September 9, 2008
Steelworkers Improve Wages, Pensions and Job Security in 4-Year Contract With U.S. Steel
To: NATIONAL EDITORS
Contact: Gerald Dickey of United Steelworkers, +1-412-562-2281PITTSBURGH, Sept. 9 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/--A new 4-year labor agreement between the United Steelworkers (USW) and U.S. Steel covering some 16,000 union members at 14 locations has been ratified by the membership in a mail-in secret ballot vote of 10571 to 2670, concluded here today at the unions headquarters.
"This is an historic agreement that completes the restructuring of the steel industry following its near collapse five years ago when a global financial crisis plunged company after company into bankruptcy," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "The hard work of our members was instrumental in rescuing the industry and putting it back onto the road of profit that it rides today."
"Weve won good wage and pension increases in this contract and our members are well deserving of it," he said. "Our union has always negotiated a pattern in basic steel and this contract sets the standard for agreements that come next."
Highlights of the Agreement:
Wages - Workers will receive a $6,000 cash payment before Oct.1, and $1 an hour increase retroactive to Sept.1. Four percent wage increases will come in years two, three and four.
Profit sharing - Beginning in 2009, if profit sharing payments for any quarter that are more than $10 per hour due to the companys European operations, the excess money will be banked and if profit sharing exceeds $20,000 a year per member, the excess will be contributed to the trust account designed to help offset our future health care costs.
Pensions -- Current U.S. Steel Employees who are covered under the U.S. Steel Carnegie Pension Fund, the minimum pension formula multipliers will be increased as follows:
-- Up to 30 years, accrued prior to Jan. 1, 2009 -- $65
-- Years of service over 30 years, accrued prior to Jan. 1, 2009 - - $85
-- All years of service, going forward from Jan. 1, 2009 -- $100
For U.S. Steel Employees covered by the Steelworkers Pension Trust (SPT), the contribution rate will be increased from $1.80 to $2.65 per hour, resulting in a $100 monthly pension multiplier.
Benefits -The Agreement improves the existing medical, prescription drug, dental, vision, life insurance and Sick and Accident (S&A) benefits for all eligible employees. Prescription drug co-pays are unchanged.
Retiree health care funding - USS will establish a separate "restricted" account within our VEBA that will be funded with a minimum of $350 million over the term of the proposed Agreement. This money will be set aside for use in future rounds of bargaining and can only be used at the discretion of the USW.
Retiree Benefits-The new plan is designed to mirror the health care plan for active Employees. Retiree premiums are reduced to $150 for pre-Medicare retirees and $75 for Medicare eligible retirees; these amounts are fixed for the term of the Agreement. Similarly, premiums for surviving spouses are reduced to $125 for pre-Medicare surviving spouses and $50 for Medicare eligible surviving spouses; these amounts are also fixed for the term of the Agreement.
Surviving Spouse Payments -Annual payments will continue and have been increased. Retirements prior to 1974 will receive $1,100 annual payments and retirements 1974 and later will receive $800 annual payments.
In addition to economic gains, the agreement requires the company to make significant capital investment in its domestic plants to keep our mills state of the art in order to compete in a global steel market.
The agreement also provides for an "Energy Efficiency and Carbon Emissions Task Force" where the union and company will work together to protect and benefit the industry and the environment.
In addition to economic issues, many problems dealing with local working conditions, including seniority and outsourcing of work were resolved.
"Its the best basic steel contract that weve had in the last 30 years," said USW Vice President Tom Conway, who served as the unions chief negotiator. "The industrys restructuring is over. Weve protected our plants in the past and now, in the future, with the companys commitment for capital investment."
"Weve looked after our retirees and those who will retire in the future," he said. "Weve been very responsive to our membership and very responsible in the best business sense. Our membership is looking forward to the next few years with enthusiasm."
The is retroactive to September 1, covering USW members employed at U.S. Steel plants in Granite City, Ill.; Gary, East Chicago, Portage, Ind.; Ecorse, Mich.; Braddock, Clairton, West Mifflin and Fairless Hills, Pa.; Fairfield, Ala.; Lorain, Ohio; Keewatin and Mt. Iron, Minn.; and Lone Star, Texas.
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
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