U.S. Steel, union reach tentative agreement

750 workers could return to work after 11-month lockout
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 10/17/2011

The union representing workers at U.S. Steel in Hamilton has reached a tentative agreement with the company. The deal reached on Oct. 10 caps an 11-month lock-out of 750 of the plant’s staff.

Details of the deal are not immediately available, but are expected to be made public after members of the United Steelworkers, Local 1005 hold a meeting on Oct. 12 to review the agreement. A vote date has not been set.

“If this entire experience has given us anything at all, it is the confidence that today Hamilton steelworkers can proudly and confidently exercise an informed vote, fully aware of the situation they face,” a notice on the union’s website reads.

The U.S. Steel workers have been locked out of the facility since November 2010. The employee pension plan is the central issue of the labour dispute. U.S. Steel has been demanding the current defined-benefit (DB) pension plan be converted to a defined-contribution (DC) plan for new employees. The company would also like to see the termination of pension indexing for current retirees.

U.S. Steel warned the workers last month that the future of the plant was at stake due to financial losses and that it will not use subsidies from profitable mills to keep the facility open.

In what it was calling its absolute final offer, the company remained firm about its pension demands, but also offered a $3,000 signing bonus, a profit-sharing plan with the potential to pay up to $3,500 per employee every quarter, and a guarantee of a minimum 26 weeks’ work at 32 hours a week. The company also offered a credit for the time spent on lockout for workers who would have gained the 30 years’ service needed to retire.

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