NEW YORK U.S. Steel Corp.
reportedly is training salaried, non-union workers to operate
its Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke, Ontario, raising speculation
that a lockout may be possible if a new labor agreement cannot
be reached with the United Steelworkers union before the
current contract expires at midnight April 15.
The move is a reminder of the
last set of contract negotiations in 2009, when workers were
locked out for eight months before the two sides struck a
three-year deal (
amm.com, April 16, 2010).
According to a news bulletin on
the USW Local 8782 website, the mill notified the union that
effective March 18 it would start training salaried, non-union
workers to operate the hot-strip mill, including rolling slabs.
"The bargaining committee would prefer the company put their
efforts into reaching a collective agreement rather than
resorting to scare tactics," the USW bulletin said. "It could
lead one to question whether they are serious about reaching an
A source close to the
negotiations, however, said he was optimistic the integrated
steelmaker and the union would work things out.
U.S. Steel employs some 1,350
people at its Lake Erie production complex, which has an annual
capacity of some 2.8 million tonnes of hot-rolled coil,
according to the companys website. It sells to the
automotive, pipe and tube, and service center sectors, as well
as supplies coil to a sister company in Hamilton, Ontario. The
steelmaker has approximately 1,000 union workers at its plant,
according to local media.
One of the blast furnaces at
Lake Erie Works is down this month for a scheduled reline,
Union representatives and
spokesmen for U.S. Steels operations in Canada and U.S.
Steels headquarters in Pittsburgh could not be reached
Lisa Gordon, Pittsburgh,
contributed to this story.