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U.S. Steel, United Steelworkers reach tentative contract agreement

Natasha Lindstrom
| Monday, Oct. 15, 2018, 3:12 p.m.
Keith Srakocic/AP

The United Steelworkers union announced Monday it has reached a compromise with U.S. Steel that looks to halt the threat of its first strike in three decades.

After six weeks of heated contract negotiations, the Downtown Pittsburgh-headquartered Fortune 250 company appears to have appeased union leaders representing steelworkers around the country.

“Every member of this union should be proud of what we’ve accomplished,” said USW International Vice President Tom Conway, chairman of the union’s bargaining committee, in a statement. “This group of workers stood up to a hugely profitable company and demanded a piece of the success they helped to create.”

The tentative four-year contract proposal — which still must be voted on by members at local chapters in coming weeks — would apply to about 14,000 steelworkers the union represents across eight states.

U.S Steel President and CEO David B. Burritt said in a statement the compromise is “fair and in the best long-term interests” of employees, customers and stockholders.

“Together, we’ve agreed on terms that will create certainty and stability for our many stakeholders; enable our company to implement our long-term business strategy, which includes continued responsible investments in our people and plants; and position U.S. Steel to remain a leader in the highly competitive global steel industry,” Burritt said.

United Steelworkers spokesman R.J. Hufnagel said union leaders representing 24 chapters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota and Texas extended their stays in Downtown Pittsburgh this past week as negotiators closed in on a deal.

The union sent out a text alert to members shortly before 3 p.m. Monday announcing the tentative agreement with U.S. Steel and the bargaining committee’s unanimous recommendation of it.

Hufnagel said the revised contract proposal would extend through Sept. 1, 2022. U.S. Steel initially proposed a six-year contract, while the union sought to shorten the length of the contract.

“U.S. Steel began this process insisting upon deep concessions from a group of workers who had already made major sacrifices to help the company through a very difficult time,” USW International President Leo W. Gerard said in a statement. “It’s a testament to the power of solidarity that these workers were able to stand up with one voice and demand fair treatment.”

About 2,500 union members work at three U.S. Steel mills in Western Pennsylvania — Clairton Coke Works, Edgar Thomson Works in Braddock and Irvin Works in West Mifflin.

They had asked for better pay and benefits packages than U.S. Steel initially proposed after three years of wage freezes.

Their last contracts expired Sept. 1. Both sides agreed to extend talks.

Local union chapters unanimously gave national negotiators the authority to strike on 48 hours’ notice if negotiations had continued to falter.

Officials said they would not disclose further details about the latest contract proposal until local members review and vote on it.

RELATED : Union workers at all 3 U.S. Steel mills in Western Pa. ready to strike

Natasha Lindstrom is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Natasha at 412-380-8514, nlindstrom@tribweb.com or via Twitter @NewsNatasha.

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