United Steelworkers Rally Over Contract Negotiations with U.S. Steel
VIRGINIA, Minn. – Union workers at U.S. Steel have been busy trying to get the word out that they are in what they call a “bitter contract war” since their most recent contract ended back on September 1st.
On Saturday they and others from across the iron range held a rally in hopes to pressure the company into reaching a new one.
“We’re here to send a message to David Burritt, the CEO of the United States Steel,” says District 11 Staff Representative John Arbogast. “We’re not going to take his self-centered deal. And if we have to, we will walk the streets again.”
Several hundred people gathered in Virginia to walk down Chestnut Street East, ending up at Veterans’ Memorial Park. Joining the steel workers were family members, people from the community, and even other local unions…all to show solidarity.
“You know, it’s the community it’s just not the mines,” says President of United Taconite Jamie Winger. “It shows you that this is a union community and that everyone supports. The two presidents of U.S. Steel are now back in Pittsburg. So no one is striking as of now. There’s no strike vote. But hopefully they keep working on and come to a fair deal.”
Mining is a significant part of the iron range’s economy, along with the tourism and logging industries. With logging operations slowing down this pass year, iron has seen a bigger role…with 150,000 miners bringing in more than 500 million tons of iron in a year from just Minntac alone.
“We worked through a global pandemic that we haven’t seen in a hundred years,” says Arbogast. “And our workers went to work every day and made these companies record profits.”
U-s steel workers are hoping the new contracts include higher wages, better pensions, healthcare coverage, vacation time, and paid family and medical leave.
“We hurt our bodies, half of our healthcare is because of what we do out in the plant… We need to be taken care of,” says Tawnya Gustafson, Vice President of USW Local 2660. “The reason why we go to the doctor is because of how hard we work.”
This rally comes days after workers at Cleveland Cliffs reached a new deal, with a pay raise workers claim is higher than what is currently being offered by U.S. Steel.
Workers say that they don’t want to strike, but are prepared to take drastic measures.