The United Steelworkers union said progress is being made at the bargaining table with ArcelorMittal, but that more work is needed to attain a fair contract.

"Although there remains significant ground to cover on differences that remain between our committee and ArcelorMittal management, we are nonetheless gratified to report that the unity and solidarity demonstrated by USW members over the past months at each and every location represented in these negotiations finally appears to have made a positive impression on the company," USW said in an update to members. "ArcelorMittal has returned to Pittsburgh to resume bargaining with proposals that represent significant progress in some important areas, but the company still needs to make more movement on other issues — among the most vital to our members and our committee — to reach a fair contract settlement."

ArcelorMittal said last week it proposed a cumulative pay increase of 9.8 percent over three years, a signing bonus of $3,000, and a $0.55 per hour increase in the pension trust by year three. The steelmaker last week proposed removing the hot roll steel bonus, no changes to the profit-sharing formula or plant incentive plans, and to force steelworkers to choose between a "Consumer Driven Healthcare Plan with no premiums or a PPO plan with modest design changes and modest premiums."

"ArcelorMittal is committed to continuing to negotiate in good faith with the USW to reach a mutually beneficial agreement for both parties. Our proposal increases both wages and pensions while addressing our competitive disadvantage in healthcare costs relative to other steel and competing material producers," ArcelorMittal President and CEO John Brett said. "Our focus has been, and continues to be, ensuring both the short-term and long-term prosperity of our operations, our people and our communities during both the good and bad times."

USW leadership said more work was needed on several issues before it could present a potential agreement to members for a ratification vote. But the union said it was getting closer to mutually satisfactory terms after steelworkers voted to authorize a strike.

"There should be no doubt now that management has heard the messages delivered by our membership loudly and clearly as we have stood together and spoken with one united voice throughout this long process," the USW said in its update to members.


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.