USWA to Begin Negotiations with U.S. Steel
Pittsburgh, PA - Following what the United Steelworkers
of America (USWA) characterized as "very constructive meetings,"
the Union has agreed to begin negotiations with U.S. Steel on a new labor
agreement that would cover Steelworkers at National Steel, as well as
those working in U.S. Steel's North American bargaining units.
As part of the agreement to negotiate, U.S. Steel has committed to suspend
any further actions with regard to the sale of any of its North American
According to USWA President Leo Gerard, "While we expect these negotiations
to be challenging, we are quite hopeful about the outcome. Our discussions
with U.S. Steel have indicated to us that its management recognizes the
importance of engaging our Union in the kind of innovative and constructive
bargaining called for by our Basic Steel Industry Conference.
"If that attitude continues, there is no reason that we cannot move
forward quickly to put U.S. Steel in a position to acquire National Steel
and continue the humane consolidation that the steel industry needs."
Gerard added that the Union will also continue working closely with National
Steel's management and creditors on a "stand alone" plan of
reorganization of the company.
"The new labor agreement we've negotiated with the International
Steel Group (ISG)," Gerard said, "opens up a host of possibilities.
The ISG agreement, and the likelihood of a similar agreement being reached
as part of the purchase of Bethlehem Steel, provides a template for a
new pattern agreement for the basic steel industry in the U.S."
In September 2002, the Union's Basic Steel Industry Conference (BSIC)
established a set of principles that it said were necessary to bring about
a humane consolidation of the American steel industry.
Since then, the principles laid out by the BSIC have served as guideposts
in negotiating a labor agreement with ISG that establishes reduced management
staffing, provides workers a stronger voice in productivity improvements,
secures industry-leading wages and incentives, and takes the historic
step of securing commitments to invest in North American steel making
"Using the ISG template, with adaptations appropriate to the needs
of our affected members, should lead to a good agreement for all concerned,"
The Union indicated that it remains willing to engage in discussions with
AK Steel, which has also made a bid to purchase National Steel's assets,
but said it expected that process to be more difficult, given AK's continued
unwillingness to resolve issues stemming from its three-year illegal lockout
of steelworkers at its Mansfield, Ohio plant and the long history of its
difficult relations with the USWA. Nonetheless, the Union indicated that
it planned to sit down with AK as soon as possible.