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Steelworkers ratify contract with U.S. Steel

Brian C. Rittmeyer
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Nate Smallwood | Tribune-Review
Unionized steelworkers and allies rally outside of Clairton Coke Works in Clairton, Pa., on Aug. 30, 2018.

Thousands of the United Steelworkers members voted by “an overwhelming margin” Tuesday to approve a new contract with U.S. Steel, the union said.

The union said the four-year agreement includes a 14 percent wage increase over the life of the contract, maintains the union’s health care coverage and strengthens retirement benefits for its 16,000 members at 14 U.S. Steel locations.

It takes effect immediately and runs through Sept. 1, 2022.

The union announced in mid-October that a tentative agreement had been reached .

Talks for the new contract started in July. The previous three-year agreement, negotiated in 2015 and expired on Sept. 1, contained a wage freeze and other concessions.

“In 2015, workers recognized that the steel industry was struggling and agreed to make sacrifices so that U.S. Steel could get through some tough times,” USW International President Leo W. Gerard said. “Now that the company has recovered and is projected to earn nearly $2 billion this year, workers rightly wanted a share of that success.”

Despite its improved financial position, U.S. Steel’s initial proposals demanded more concessions. In early September, USW members responded by voting unanimously to authorize a strike .

“The strength and solidarity of the USW membership were the keys to achieving a fair agreement,” USW International Vice President Tom Conway, chair of the union’s U.S. Steel bargaining committee, said.

“This contract puts the company in a position to succeed and ensures that the work force will be able to share in that success. It’s a win-win,” said Mike Millsap, USW District 7 director and secretary of the bargaining committee.

The contract covers members of 24 local unions who work at Clairton Works, East Chicago Tin, Fairfield, Fairfield Southern, Fairless Hills, Gary Works, Granite City Works, Great Lakes Works, Keetac, Lone Star Tubular, Lorain Tubular, Midwest Plant, Minntac and Mon Valley Works.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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