ArcelorMittal and the United Steelworkers have been trading offers and counter-offers, but haven't made much progress so far, early on in contract negotiations.
"Our USW negotiating committee continued to meet internally and with management this week in Pittsburgh," the union said in an update to members. "On Thursday, ArcelorMittal responded to our initial contract proposal with predictable unacceptable counter offers limited to certain issues, so our work will continue as we bargain for a fair contract."
So far, the union said the most substantial discussion on a new contract to replace the one that expires in September has centered on capital expenditures, repair and maintenance.
"ArcelorMittal provided an overview of its efforts to improve the reliability of operations company-wide with a focus on 'proactive' maintenance to reduce downtime due to equipment breakdowns, including steps that management and members of the bargaining units can take to keep our facilities running smoothly and safety," USW said in an update to members. "We discussed how the company budgets for and differentiates between Repair and Maintenance and Capex projects and reviewed a list of most (if not all) of the capital investment projects ArcelorMittal USA has undertaken since 2016. While there are differences between how our union and management approach these issues, we recognize that working together to make our plants more efficient and profitable will make all of our jobs more secure."
ArcelorMittal just posted a $1.9 billion profit in the second quarter. The global steelmaker, which said it has been losing money in the United States, has asked for a number of concessions it said are necessary to become more competitive, such as cuts to health insurance, incentive pay, vacation pay, family and medical leave, pensions and supplemental unemployment. It wants union employees to pay $200 a month in health care premiums or up to $8,000 a year in out-of-pocket costs for a "consumer-driven" plan.
The union has said it will fight such concessions as it tries to secure a more favorable deal than in 2015, when workers got no raises and conceded the closure of multiple finishing lines and operations at ArcelorMittal Indiana Harbor in East Chicago.
"Your continued support and patience during this process is appreciated," the USW said in an update to members. "As these negotiations continue, it is absolutely essential for all USW members at ArcelorMittal to remain united in solidarity. Most of all, we urge everyone to stay focused on working safely and keeping each other out of harm's way on the job."