Nearly 2,000 local United Steelworkers and their families anxiously wait as our contract with U.S. Steel will expire in less than two weeks.
Those of us who are employed by USS in Granite City are appreciative of our family supporting jobs but we are experiencing personal conflict: complexities that contribute to the current external challenges for domestic steel while standing strong against our employer’s unreasonable proposals. Instead of respecting these talks in a collaborative effort to become more competitive while mindful of value for their employees, the company is proposing to gut our current contract.
Although the U.S. steel market has been favorable in 2015, a record level of subsidized steel from numerous countries has caused injury to the domestic steelmaker’s market. China, the serial trade cheat, devalued their currency last week and is dumping (selling below their cost to produce) even more steel into our home market to avoid civil unrest back home.
I had great hope that our shared interests and continual efforts as foot soldiers for our employer, pressing Congress to pass stronger trade laws, would have a carryover effect as partners during these talks. Instead, USS has presented a proposal that asks for deep cuts for active employees and retirees.
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The substantial concessions proposed would take decades to win back and undermine the next generation of workers. We hope to find solutions of common interests to keep our industry vital without radically turning back the clock.
USW Local 1899, Collinsville