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USW mails out U.S. Steel ballots, still has issues with ArcelorMittal

Steelworkers rally in downtown Gary for a fair contract in late August.

The United Steelworkers union has mailed informational packets and ballots on U.S. Steel's proposed contract to members, but the union continues to have issues with ArcelorMittal.

Steelworkers will vote whether to accept U.S. Steel's proposed four-year deal, which includes annual raises of 4 percent, 3.5 percent, 3.5 percent, and 3 percent, a $4,000 signing bonus, and no increased premiums for health care.

ArcelorMittal made a similar proposal, modeled after what it knew about U.S. Steel's proposal, after U.S. Steel struck a tentative pact with the USW's bargaining committee. But the union said it remains at odds with ArcelorMittal on a number of issues, most notably profit-sharing and pensions.

"Our committee has no doubt made progress toward new labor agreements with ArcelorMittal over the last few weeks, but we are not going to allow management to force us into accepting anything less than what we have earned and deserve," the USW said in an update to members.

The union agreed to go three years without raises during the last bargaining session in 2015, when the industry was in a deep downturn. But tariffs on imported steel and improved market conditions have since made the steelmakers highly profitable, with ArcelorMittal pulling in $3.1 billion in profit during the first half of the year.

USW-represented steelworkers have resisted proposed concessions, including higher out-of-pocket costs for health care that the companies said they need to be competitive on costs, and to make their operations sustainable in the long run.

Like U.S. Steel, ArcelorMittal is offering $4,000 signing bonuses and annual raises of 4 percent, 3.5 percent, 3.5 percent, and 3 percent.

New York City-based steel analyst Charles Bradford of Bradford Research Inc. said he expected ArcelorMittal and U.S. Steel to ultimately strike substantively similar deals with the union.

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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.