NEW YORK ArcelorMittal
USA Inc. remains "optimistic" about reaching a new contract
with unionized workers by the end of the week, even as it has
begun to take "precautionary" steps ahead of a possible labor
disruption at its mills.
"As a precautionary measure and
consistent with measures taken during past labor negotiations,
ArcelorMittal has recently begun the process of taking asset
preservation steps at its facilities should a work stoppage
occur," a company spokesman told AMM in an e-mail.
"remains optimistic about reaching a fair and equitable
contract with the USW without a work stoppage," he said, but
added that it is making preparations regardless ahead of the
Sept. 1 contract expiration.
Prior to the start of
negotiations this spring, the steelmaker began highlighting
changes in the industrynamely the rise of the
mini-millthat have made it difficult for the integrated
producer to remain competitive at its current cost structure.
As a result, ArcelorMittal arrived at the bargaining table
requesting a number of contract revisions, including reductions
to wages and benefits (
amm.com, June 11).
The company on Friday declined
to comment on the negotiations themselves, citing
"sensitivities of the negotiation process."
Meanwhile, the USW negotiating
committee maintains that "little progress" was made in talks
over the weekend.
"We still have a lot of ground
to cover, but we believe that as long as you continue to stand
united we can accomplish anythingincluding reaching a
fair contract with this companydespite managements
ongoing attempts to undermine our past progress and the future
of our standard of living and working conditions," the union
wrote Monday in an update to its members.