Union, USX Open Contract Talks
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ The United Steelworkers of America and USX Corp. opened talks Monday on a new contract for 18,000 workers in seven states.
The union has said it wants USX - the nation’s largest steel maker - to fall in line with other steel makers that have restored pay cuts taken by workers during the industry’s decline in the early 1980s.
″We’re optimistic we can get an agreement in this early bargaining process that will be in the interest of all concerned - the company and its employees,″ said Thomas W. Sterling, USX’s chief negotiator.
However, USX Chairman Charles A. Corry and Thomas J. Usher, president of the company’s steel division, have said the company will stand alone in talks and ignore agreements struck with competing steel makers.
The union will ask USX to raise pay $1.25 an hour, said Andrew ″Lefty″ Palm, USW District 15 director and chairman of the committe negotiating with USX. Union members at USX make an average of $10.82 to $10.87 an hour, excluding benefits, the union said.
Bethlehem Steel Corp., National Steel Corp., Armco Inc., LTV Steel Co. and the financially ailing Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. all agreed to restore the pay concessions.
The union also will ask USX to pay a penalty into an industrywide job training fund if the company schedules excessive overtime, Palm has said. The other steelmakers have accepted the penalty p rovision, he said.
USX hasn’t revealed the terms it will seek.
The talks between USX and the steelworkers union are beginning 3 months before the four-year contract expires Feb. 1. Negotiations usually start a month or two before contracts expire.
USX makes steel in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana and Alabama, and mines iron ore in Minnesota.
The company operates several joint ventures, including a partnership with Japan’s Kobe Steel in Lorain, Ohio. Workers at those plants are being included in the talks for the first time.