NEW YORK Negotiations between the United Steelworkers union and ArcelorMittal USA Inc. will resume Tuesday following talks last week in Pittsburgh, and the union is not optimistic a quick resolution is in sight.
"As we press forward, we expect long, frustrating days aheadespecially when major economic discussions begin," the union said in a statement Monday. "Our progress has been slow and the company continues to insist that it must reduce its labor costs; we remain committed to success and sustainability by insisting on real investments in equipment and technology."
Negotiations began in May to replace a contract set to expire Sept. 1. ArcelorMittal USA opened negotiations in May with proposed reductions to wages and benefits that the union described as "unacceptable" at the time (AMM, June 12).
The company continues to stand by its view that changes are required to keep the business competitive.
"In response to a request by the USW, the parties reviewed recent business performance by ArcelorMittal USA back to 2006 ... to better understand what it takes to accomplish their mutual objectivea business which is sustainable throughout the business cycle, and not just when the wind is at our back," a spokeswoman for the Chicago-based company said in an e-mailed statement to AMM. "The dialogue considered the journeys traveled by other industrial companies and their unions to lead change and become more competitive."
"Union-represented steel is not the first to face these challenges and can learn from others, including the Detroit 3 (Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC) and (the United Auto Workers union) and a number of other companies," the company spokeswoman added.
She noted that chief operating officers from the steelmakers flat and long products divisions also joined the labor discussions last week.
The unions negotiations will also resume this week with Pittsburgh-based steelmaker U.S. Steel Corp., the union said. U.S. Steel did not respond to requests for comment.