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Independent Steelworkers Union formally merges with USW

| Friday, April 13, 2007

One of the nation's last independent steel unions formally merged with the United Steelworkers today, adding to the ranks of North America's largest industrial labor union.

Members of the Independent Steelworkers Union, which represents about 1,150 workers at Mittal Steel Co.'s mill in Weirton, W.Va., voted overwhelmingly last month to join the Pittsburgh-based union.

"We thought long and hard about the USW for a number of years," said ISU President Mark Glyptis. "We certainly believe that being a USW member ... is going to be in the best interest of our employees and our retirees, and it's going to make the union movement stronger across this country."

Dave McCall, director of USW District 1 in Columbus, Ohio, said the agreement "makes us a stronger, better union able to represent our members at all our facilities and in all our jurisdictions."

"It's about bargaining leverage, it's about making sure our members get what they deserve for their sacrifices and their blood, sweat and tears," he told reporters and union representatives.

Members of the 56-year-old ISU have been told their dues will increase to 1.3 percent of their annual salaries plus 2 cents per working hour for an organizing fund. But, proponents said, they will gain greater strength in organizing, bargaining and lobbying.

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, with 850,000 members in the United States and Canada. The union employs lobbyists in Washington, pension and benefits analysts, corporate researchers and collective bargaining teams.

Weirton workers also gain access to the Steelworkers' $140 million strike fund, which gives workers on the picket line at least $100 per week.

The USW also represents most of the 3,100 workers at West Virginia's other large producer, Wheeling Pittsburgh Steel, which has plants in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania.

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