Protest held at steel mill as contract talks continue
Members of the state AFL-CIO, who are in Georgetown for the organization’s annual conference, took time to show support for the United Steelworkers who are in the midst of tense contract negotiations with ArcelorMittal.
Dozens of members of the organization spent part of Wednesday afternoon picketing outside the two gates of the company’s Georgetown plant.
“This is not a strike,” said Sam Wragg, local USW member who was with a group of picketers at the Front Street gate. “This is to show solidarity. To show the union is together and what happens to one union happens to all unions.”
Kenneth Riley, president of the AFL-CIO, said since the annual conference was in Georgetown this week, they felt it was important to join with fellow union members.
“This is all about trying to help them get a fair contract,” Riley said.
The contract for ArcelorMittal’s 14,000 workers expired Saturday night. The contract has not officially been extended although the company has agreed to honor it, at least for now, as the negotiations are ongoing.
USW spokesman Tony Montana says the three biggest hangups in the negotiations are:
n Protection for current and future retirees against higher health care premiums.
n Keeping the pension enhancement payment for those who take a Steelworkers Pension Trust retirement.
n Continue to fund the defined benefit pension plan to a minimum of 80 percent.
Montana said union officials presented company representatives with “a comprehensive proposal to resolve all outstanding issues” on Wednesday.
As of press time Thursday, Montana had not reported the union had received any additional communication from the company.
By Scott Harper
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