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USW workers to march on ATI headquarters

| Wednesday, July 29, 2015, 12:57 p.m.

Negotiators for ATI Flat-rolled Products have submitted another contract proposal to the United Steelworkers Union that shows some movement on health care issues.

The USW, which represents ATI's 11 flat-rolled products plants and its 2,200 workers, said the proposal, which apparently was made last weekend, “falls far short” on the issues including health care, retirement security and scheduling.

Three of the plants operated by ATI, formerly Allegheny Ludlum Steel, are in the Alle-Kiski Valley, in Harrison, Vandergrift and Gilpin. They employ about 1,000 workers.

Regarding the latest ATI proposal, Fran Arabia, president of USW Local 1196, which represents the Harrison steel mill workers, said, “There's really nothing to talk about. It's a process. They are waiting to see how far they can push. We are waiting for a fair proposal.”

The USW issued a statement saying: “Because this proposal still contains so many dramatic and unnecessary cuts and because we believe that there is still work to be done at the bargaining table, your bargaining committee has decided that we will not be asking you to vote on this offer.

“Instead we will continue to work safely every day under the terms of the old agreement while we continue the fight for a fair contract at the bargaining table, in our facilities, and in our communities.”

ATI spokesman Dan Greenfield had no comment on the USW's statements about the latest proposal.

The company's initial proposal at the beginning of June contained more than 140 items seeking cuts or changes in virtually every aspect of the union contract.

The previous contract expired July 1 and ATI employees are working on a day-to-day basis through an extension of that contract.

On the matter of health care for employees, the company proposed raising the deductible from the current levels of $300 for an individual and $600 for a family to $1,500 per individual and $3,000 for a family. After meeting the deductible, employees would pay 20 percent of medical costs with an out-of-pocket maximum of $4,000 per individual and $8,000 per family.

According to information released by the USW International Union on its website, in its recent proposal, ATI proposed that current employees pay monthly premiums of $215 or just under $2,600 for the year, for family health care coverage by the end of the contract.

That coverage would include a deductible of $1,000 per year and employees would pay 15 percent of health care costs, up to a $6,000 per year out-of-pocket maximum.

Employees hired after July 1, 2015 would be moved into the company's “Consumer Driven Healthcare Plan.” By the end of the contract, family coverage under that plan would include a $3,000 deductible and employees would pay 20 percent of health care costs up to a $6,850 out-of-pocket maximum.

Under the initial proposal, ATI wanted to eliminate retiree health care benefits for workers hired after July 1.

There was no mention of whether that item remains on the table.

Retirees are concerned about what they might end up paying, as they claimed the company continues to increase their monthly health care premiums.

Prior to the 2007 contract, retirees did not pay for medical insurance. The 2007 contract, which only current workers voted on, imposed an $80 per month premium for family coverage. In the 2011 contract, that was increased to $260 per month.

“We understand health care, and we are willing to work with that issue. But again, what is a fair proposal?” Arabia said.

According to the USW, other items in the latest proposal would allow management to run “non-normal schedules” with partial and non-consecutive days on the work schedule.

The union said ATI management would have the right to hire more outside contractors to do maintenance work that USW members perform on ATI facilities and equipment.

Tom Yerace is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4675 or tyerace@tribweb.com.

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