August 31, 2008

USW, ArcelorMittal Reach Tentative Four-Year Deal

By Bobby Kerlik

The United Steelworkers union reached a tentative four-year agreement Saturday in Downtown with ArcelorMittal, the world's largest steel producer.

The union members will review and discuss the proposed contract over the next several weeks before taking a final vote on the deal, union spokesman Tony Montana said.

The union represents 14,000 production, maintenance and clerical employees at 14 ArcelorMittal USA plants in eight states.

Montana declined to discuss specifics of the contract, which was negotiated at the William Penn Hotel.

The union voted Thursday to authorize a strike if a contract wasn't reached by Sept. 1, the day the old contract expired. The two sides had been negotiating since April.

Some of the sticking points were premiums for retiree health care, company contributions to a trust fund for health care, employee incentives, a profit-sharing agreement and capital investments, the union has said.

"We believe that ratification of the proposed agreement is a major step toward raising the industry standard in wages, benefits and other contractual protections without sacrificing the long term viability of ArcelorMittal in a competitive market," Steelworkers District 1 Director David McCall said in a statement.

Montana said much of the contract would be retroactive if it's approved.

The company could not be reached for comment.

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