Steelworkers are returning to work at 12 Allegheny Technologies Inc. (ATI) mills following the overwhelming ratification of a four-year contract that ended a six-month lockout.
A breakthrough in the fight came just days after the Maritime Trades Department, AFL-CIO Executive Board approved a statement of solidarity with the members of the MTD-affiliated union.
“The strength and solidarity of our union paid off with a fair contract that contains virtually none of the drastic concessions ATI sought to arbitrarily impose,” declared USW International President Leo Gerard.
According to a Steelworkers release, “The contract protects retirement benefits and maintains affordable, quality health care for active workers and retirees. It protects union jobs against outside contractors, maintains the grievance procedure and other important contract language, and introduces a new profit sharing system that allows USW members a bigger share in ATI’s future success.”
A tentative agreement between the union and the company was reached February 22, 10 days after the National Labor Relations Board filed a lengthy unfair labor practice complaint against ATI alleging the lockout was illegal and the company had bargained in bad faith. Union members voted 5-1 in favor of the new pact. The 2,200 Steelworkers locked out of their jobs since August 15 in six states started going back to work on March 14.
On February 18, Executive Board Member Bernie Hostein of the Steelworkers updated the MTD gathering about the fight being waged to return the union members to their jobs. Hostein pointed out that the Steelworkers had presented proposals that could save ATI money, but the company was determined to force the union back to work on its terms.
Hostein announced not one of the Steelworkers crossed the picket line during the lockout.
Besides affirming the department’s support for the workers, the MTD statement also called “upon the federal governments of the United States and Canada to take immediate, decisive and long-term action to address the problems of illegal dumping and other illegal trading practices which continue to destroy good jobs in manufacturing across these two nations.”