USW Members Gather for Rally; Negotiations Ongoing

By KBJR News 1

September 5, 2012 Updated Nov 8, 2013 at 9:32 AM CDT

Virginia, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) - As contract negotiations between the United Steelworkers Union and ArcelorMittal continue, union workers at the company's Minorca Mine near Virginia held a rally today.

The rally was not a strike. Union spokespeople say it was intended to share information with members and show solidarity.

"We'd like to have a piece of the pie, there's enough for everybody," said USW member and ArcelorMittal worker, Glen Paavola.

According to the USW's most recent update on their website, the main issues the union is fighting for are; protection for currect and future retirees against higher health care premiums, keeping the $10,000 Pension Enhancement Payment for members who take a Steelworkers Pension Trust retirement, and continued funding for the defined benefit pension plan to a minimun of 80%.

For USW member and retired ArcelorMittal worker, Skip Dickinson, the biggest concern is over the continuation of his current healthcare plan.

"I'm really worried about it," Dickinson said, "When you get retired, your medical is the most important thing."

Other USW members say they hope for a fair contract agreement.

"A fair contract, that's all really that we're asking for," said USW member Tom Aubin.

ArcelorMittal General Manager, Bill Steers, issued the following comment: "Negotiations continue between ArecelorMittal and the United Steelworkers. We remain optimistic about reaching a fair and equitable contract with the USW."

Negotiations between the USW and Cliffs Natural Resources are still ongoing. They agreed to indefinitely extend their current contract while talks continue.

Meanwhile, U.S. Steel and its union reached a tentative agreement on Sunday. A spokesperson from U.S. Steel says details on that contract will be made available after the ratification process is complete.

Written for the web by Jennifer Austin.