United Steelworkers, U.S. Steel reach tentative agreement

2012-09-02T18:30:00Z 2012-09-08T10:01:06Z United Steelworkers, U.S. Steel reach tentative agreementChelsea Schneider Kirk chelsea.schneider@nwi.com, (219) 933-3241 nwitimes.com

The United Steelworkers announced Sunday that the union reached a tentative agreement with U.S. Steel.

However, the union was still in negotiations with ArcelorMittal as of Sunday night.

“We have been exchanging proposals with the company and remain engaged in negotiations,” USW International President Leo W. Gerard said in a statement. “Our members continue to work under the terms and conditions of our 2008 agreements with ArcelorMittal while this long, frustrating process continues.”

The union's contracts with U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal expired at midnight Saturday.

The union said its members will continue to operate the ArcelorMittal plants as talks carry on. The union said its contract had not been formally extended, but the company had advised it would continue to abide by the terms of the previous contract.

A representative from ArcelorMittal did not return a request for comment Sunday night.

On Friday, the union told members that it was not calling for a strike at the time.

Gerard said ArcelorMittal had begun to restart blast furnaces that the company idled before the contract expired.

As for U.S. Steel, union members will vote on the three-year contract after reviewing its details. The agreement is the culmination of talks that began in June.

“Both sides worked hard to come up with a solution that continues to provide our current and future retirees with access to high-quality, low-cost medical care,” USW International Vice President Tom Conway said in a statement.

John P. Surma, U.S. Steel chairman and chief executive officer, said in a separate statement that he was pleased a tentative agreement was reached.

The agreement “is in the best interests of our company, our employees and all of our stakeholders," Surma said.

The union said a significant issue in talks with U.S. Steel was health care costs for retirees.

In negotiations with ArcelorMittal, the union's top issues remain the two-tier wage system proposed by the company, health care and the undermining of seniority rights, Jim Robinson, USW District 7 director, previously told The Times.

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