September 22, 2008

ArcelorMittal and USWA Talks Continue

By Harris, Linda

Contract talks between the United Steelworkers union and steel giant ArcelorMittal continue.

With their current agreement set to expire Sept. 1, Local 2911 President Mark Glyptis said the groups have already been at the table for 13 weeks. He said the union's position is one of solidarity,

"Our cornerstone issues have been economic security, retirement security and investment back into the company," said Glyptis, who represents workers at ArcelorMittal's Weirton plant. "We're negotiating what we believe will be a competitive contract. We've been there quite a while."

Glyptis said District 6 Director Dave McCall and other members of the negotiating team conducted a "road show" to get a first-hand account of the concerns of workers at each ArcelorMittal plant, then used that information to formulate their bargaining position.

While economics and retirement security are always high priority, he said the union realizes the implications of being part of a global market.

"Investment back into facilities is paramount to remaining competitive," he said. "The steel crisis resulted in many companies going bankrupt, shutting down, and with the global philosophy of the leaders in Washington, not only are we competing against domestic companies but we're competing against steel companies worldwide. Many of them have different standards, not only with regard to human rights, but also compensation. That's our competition now."

He said Weirton workers would like to see the roughly 40 workers who have been laid off returned to work.

"One of our issues is finding a way to return them to work," he said. "We believe we have a long-term future. The mill is running exceptionally well at the moment. Right now, our yields are the highest they've been in some time. We're seeing a good, steady performance - but we need those 40-plus people back on the job."

Copyright State Journal Corporation Aug 22, 2008

(c) 2008 State Journal, The. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.