Steelworkers Say Yes To U.S. Steel Contract With 14% Wage Increase

Steelworkers finally secured their pay increase.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports:

“After about four months of contentious negotiations, the United Steelworkers announced on Tuesday a new four-year labor contract covering about 16,000 U.S. Steel workers.

The contract, which takes effect immediately, includes a 14 percent wage boost over four years and maintains the union’s health care coverage — a reflection of the American steel industry’s rebound over the last year.

In the last two weeks, the United Steelworkers membership voted by “an overwhelming margin” to approve the union’s tentative agreement with the Pittsburgh steelmaker, the union said in a press release. The union did not disclose the exact vote total.

The deal stands in stark contrast to the previous contract, which was negotiated in 2015 during an industry downturn.

U.S. Steel lost $1.6 billion that year, hit by stiff competition from cheaper imports and depressed steel prices. It took more than six months of negotiations before USW members ratified a contract in February 2016 that froze wages but avoided major changes to health care benefits.

This time, several rounds of tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on steel and aluminum imports have made domestically produced steel more competitive. Manufacturers have turned to U.S. Steel and other domestic plants, boosting prices to more than double what they were in 2015.

Hot-rolled steel made in the United States bottomed out in late 2015 close to $400 a ton. In October, those prices have had risen to about $940 a ton, according to data on SteelBenchmarker pricing website.

‘In 2015, workers recognized that the steel industry was struggling and agreed to make sacrifices so that U.S. Steel could get through some tough times,’ said Leo W. Gerard, USW international president, in a press release.

‘Now that the company has recovered and is projected to earn nearly $2 billion this year, workers rightly wanted a share of that success,’ Mr. Gerard said.

The wage increases from 2018 to 2021 — 4 percent, 3.5 percent, 3.5 percent and 3 percent, respectively — rank favorably compared to the broader manufacturing sector.”

For the rest of the story, visit the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette here.

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