NEW YORK The labor dispute between U.S. Steel Corp. and the United Steelworkers union at the companys Lake Erie Works in Nanticoke, Ontario, heated up July 15, when the steelmaker asked the provincial government to intervene and order a vote on its final contract offer, according to documents obtained by AMM.
"The union rejected our offer and refused to submit it to the membership for a vote. We feel strongly that our employees deserve the opportunity to end the work stoppage now and avoid further financial hardship," Jodi Koch, director of human resources at U.S. Steel Canada, wrote in a letter to workers. "For that reason, we have asked the Minister of Labour to conduct a final offer vote pursuant to Ontario law. Under Ontario law, the company has only one opportunity to request a ministry-supervised vote, and we believe the timing is right for you to end the labour dispute."
The Pittsburgh-based steelmaker last week offered a new labor deal to USW Local 8782 to end the lockout, which affects some 1,000 hourly workers at the facility, a move that seemed to signal progress on negotiations (amm.com, July 10). However, U.S. Steel has alleged that the union refused to submit the new offer to its membership for a vote.
The union denied the allegations, saying it was preparing a formal response to the company and still trying to negotiate. "It is untrue that the union refused to take this proposal back," the union said on its website. "After making an attempt to negotiate and the company refusing, the response from the union was draft it all up and we will present it for a vote."
Under the companys new offer, employees would receive a $2,000 ratification bonus, continuation of the existing wage scale, enhanced contributions to retirement funds and an immediate roll-in of $1.01 per hour of accumulated cost-of-living adjustment payments into base wage rates, the company said.
The company added that it would conduct information meetings on July 23 and 24, and a supervised ballot could be scheduled shortly after.
"We should also be clear that if this offer is rejected, it will be withdrawn and these terms will not be offered again," the company said.