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U.S. Steel, USW reach tentative agreement

Steelworkers rally in downtown Gary and prepare to march to U.S. Steel Gary Works in late August.

A month and a half after the current labor contract expired, U.S. Steel and the United Steelworkers bargaining committee have reached a tentative pact.

The proposal will be brought to steelworkers, who must vote to approve any new contract. It would cover 14,000 USW-represented steelworkers nationwide, including thousands in Northwest Indiana.

"We have a tentative agreement with USS and unanimous recommendation from the bargaining committee," the USW said in an update to members. "Thank you for support and solidarity."

A union message to steelworkers said the four-year contract would include a 4 percent raise the first year, 3.5 percent raises in 2019 and 2020, and a 3 percent raise in 2021 for a total increase of 14 percent in pay, plus a $4,000 signing bonus. The proposed deal would preserve existing health care benefits and incentives formulas, and include a second health care option and no premium increases for retirees, according to the email.

Union representatives will explain the proposal in detail at upcoming meetings at union locals.

“We are pleased to have reached a tentative agreement with the USW we believe is fair and in the best long-term interests of our employees and their families, as well as U.S. Steel’s customers, stockholders and other stakeholders,” U.S. Steel President and CEO David Burritt said. “Together, we’ve agreed on terms that will create certainty and stability for our many stakeholders, enable our company to implement our long-term business strategy, which includes continued, responsible investments in our people and plants, and position U.S. Steel to remain a leader in the highly competitive global steel industry.”

Last month, U.S. Steel workers overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike because of concerns about the company taking away health care and retiree benefits and saddling steelworkers with thousands of dollars a year in out-of-pocket health care costs. The union and steelmaker returned to the bargaining table in Pittsburgh, and the two sides were finally able to hammer out an agreement months after negotiations started this summer.

"We are relieved that the company came to their senses," said Michael Young, president of USW Local 6103, which represents steelworkers at the Midwest Plant in Portage. "I think this agreement is an agreement the members deserve and we are proud to bring it home to the membership for ratification."

Negotiations between USW and ArcelorMittal continue.

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Business Reporter

Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.