Thousands Rally in Support of United Steelworkers’ Union
Marching for Fair Worker Contracts in Mining Industry
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The current employee contracts at U.S Steel and ArcelorMittal expire August 31.
Right now, the biggest discrepancy between the company and the union workers is healthcare.
“Are we for a bunch of big national corporations who care only about profits and not workers? I guess not, I hope not,” shouted U.S. Representative Rick Nolan.
Thousands took to the streets of Virginia Thursday evening.
“For a fair contract,” explained John Arbogast, Vice President of Local 1938. “We’re not going to agree to concessions, we’re not going to jeopardize our future.”
Fighting for fairness in a community defined by the mining industry.
U.S. Steel is trying to take us back 60, 80 years and that’s unacceptable when we’re in a cyclical downturn,” Arbogast said.
After 39 years of working as a mine electrician, Dave Paakkonen is ready for the next step.
“I could have retired nine years ago, I keep waiting for the right contract,” said Paakkonen.
But with a contract negotiation deadline of August 31, he along with 33,000 other employees at U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal, are concerned about reaching a fair deal.
“The biggest thing is the healthcare, that’s the big elephant in the room,” Arbogast said.
United Steelworkers union leaders have been at U.S. Steel headquarters in Pittsburgh since July 5 bargaining a new master agreement.
“We will not stand for the cuts in the benefits that these companies are proposing right now,” Arbogast declared.
And while they’re optimistic a deal will be made…
“We have a long ways to go,” admitted Dan Pierce, Vice President of Local 2660.
At the same time, Minnesota lawmakers are taking matters to the nation’s capital.
“We’re going to stand shoulder to shoulder to say ‘We need to put an end to illegal steel dumping’” shouted U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar.
But close to home is where the push for change matters most.
“There’s 30,000 steelworkers all across this country that are dependent upon our success here,” Nolan said.
And the packed streets of Virginia say it all.
“There’s a lot depending on getting this contract done and making sure it’s fair,” said Pierce.
U.S. Steel declined to comment, saying the company doesn’t offer comments on contract issues.
Contract negotiations at Cliffs Natural Resources will begin September 9 with current contracts there expiring October 1.