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Updated: 1 hour 44 min ago

USW-backed Workplace Violence Bill Passes U.S. House

Thu, 11/21/2019 - 12:54

CONTACT: Chelsey Engel, cengel@usw.org, 412-562-2446

After a months-long campaign bolstered by United Steelworkers (USW) activists, the Workplace Violence Prevention for Health Care and Social Service Workers Act (H.R. 1309) reached the floor of the U.S. House today and passed 251-158.

The legislation, introduced by Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), would direct the Secretary of Labor to issue an occupational safety and health standard that requires health care and social service industry employers to develop and implement comprehensive workplace violence prevention plans.

“Our members mobilized all across the country and across industries to collect more than 80,000 signatures in support of this bill because they know it affects all working people,” said USW International President Tom Conway. “This is how we make progress – by finding common ground and solidarity around issues that impact everyday Americans and making our voices heard.”

Three weeks ago, hundreds of Steelworker activists descended onto Capitol Hill for a legislative conference where they also marched to the Department of Labor to hold a rally in support of the bill. They were joined by several legislative leaders, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pa.), and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), before walking the halls of Congress to speak to their representatives about the legislation.

Workplace violence is the third-leading cause of death on the job, and health care and social service workers are among the most vulnerable. Women are disproportionately affected, with two out of every three serious workplace violence events suffered by women.

“It is past time for these workers to have the protections they need,” said Conway. “We hope Majority Leader Mitch McConnell does what’s best for them, their patients, and their families by bringing this bill to a vote in the Senate, where we believe it will see the same support as it did in the House.”

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector, health care, and service occupations.

USW Drops Lawsuit Opposing Sale of Keystone Cement Plant

Wed, 11/20/2019 - 08:18

Contact: R.J. Hufnagel, rhufnagel@usw.org, 412-562-2450

The United Steelworkers (USW) union has dropped its opposition to the proposed $151 million sale of Keystone Cement’s Bath Plant in Northampton County, Pa., to Lehigh Hanson Inc. and issued the following statement:

“Last week, the USW filed a lawsuit regarding the sale of Keystone’s facility, and the union has now filed to dismiss it. The Steelworkers and Lehigh Hanson have been involved in a good-faith effort to resolve their differences, therefore rendering the lawsuit unnecessary.

“The Steelworkers and Lehigh Hanson have a longstanding, positive bargaining relationship, and the USW believes that Lehigh Hanson’s potential acquisition of the Keystone Cement facilities in Bath, Pa., will be in the best interests of the nearly 100 USW-represented employees who work there.

“If Lehigh Hanson purchases the Keystone facility, the USW looks forward to working with the company in the future and expects to continue to build a positive, constructive relationship.”

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

Proterra Workers to Join USW

Tue, 11/19/2019 - 09:25

CONTACT: Jess Kamm, (412) 562-2444, jkamm@usw.org

The United Steelworkers (USW) announced today that it is proud to welcome into the union more than 60 Proterra employees in the city of Industry, Calif., where they manufacture battery electric buses.

After an overwhelming majority of workers requested representation, Proterra management voluntarily recognized the union on Nov. 12.

USW International President Thomas M. Conway congratulated the union’s newest members and praised Proterra management for its conduct throughout the organizing process.

“In Proterra, we have a dedicated, highly skilled, productive work force, an American company committed to manufacturing in the United States and management that respects employees,” Conway said. “This is a winning combination not only for this company and these workers, but for our country as a whole as we look at the kinds of jobs we want to have in the future.

“U.S. manufacturing and manufacturing workers are vital to the innovation and economic future of this country. It’s important that we capitalize on the technological advancements and strengths of American companies to seize the tremendous momentum happening in the domestic electric vehicle sector and promote American leadership in this next transportation revolution.”

Conway said that it is imperative that the development and production of clean technology promote good jobs and healthy communities in the United States. This includes ensuring that the materials and components in the transportation supply chain are made in America and that the workers who make them earn fair wages and good benefits.

“There is an unprecedented opportunity to solve some of the greatest challenges facing us today while creating and preserving quality American manufacturing jobs,” said Proterra CEO Ryan Popple. “Proterra and the United Steelworkers share a common vision to support American workers while building a healthier and more resilient future for all, and we look forward to a strong partnership.”

“We are building a positive, cooperative relationship with Proterra and look forward to meeting the challenges ahead with management,” Conway said. “We have every reason for optimism and expect the company, its employees and community stakeholders to enjoy the benefits of its long-term, sustainable success.”

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in health care, public sector, higher education, tech and service occupations.

Proterra is a leader in the design and manufacture of zero-emission electric transit vehicles and EV technology solutions for commercial applications. Designed for durability, safety and energy efficiency, Proterra products are proudly designed, engineered and manufactured in America.


USW Mourns Passing of District 12 Director Robert LaVenture

Wed, 11/13/2019 - 09:00

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Nov. 13, 2019

CONTACT: Jess Kamm Broomell (412) 562-2444, jkamm@usw.org 

PITTSBURGHUSW International President Tom Conway issued the following statement on the passing of USW District 12 Director Robert LaVenture:

 “It is with a heavy heart that I must announce that District 12 Director Robert LaVenture passed away today.

 “Bob was a tireless union activist who always fought on the side of working people, first in his home state of Wisconsin and later on behalf of our members in District 12.

 “Bob joined the labor movement in 1970 when he went to work at an International Harvester – now Navistar – foundry in Waukesha, Wis., as a member of Local 3740. He served many roles, including trustee, local union steward, vice president and president.

 “As local president, Bob helped develop the Navistar Education Center, the first employee education center in Wisconsin. He then went on to help develop other education centers as a state AFL-CIO coordinator.

 “Bob moved to Concord, Calif., in 1993 and then to Oklahoma in 1998 as a USW International staff rep. He became District 12 Director in 2009.

 “As director, Bob was a fierce advocate for American industry and jobs, chairing contract negotiations with EVRAZ Rocky Mountain Steel, Kaiser Aluminum, ASARCO, and Kennecott Utah Copper, as well as heading the USW Cement Council.

 “He was also profoundly dedicated to cross-border solidarity, working closely with our union brothers and sisters at Los Mineros in Mexico, fighting so that all workers could have a better life. 

 “Bob was a good friend who touched many lives. He will be sorely missed.”


The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, the service and public sectors and higher education. USW District 12 encompasses the states of Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Human Service Workers at Persad Center File for USW Representation

Thu, 11/07/2019 - 06:33

Contact: Chelsey Engel, cengel@usw.org, 412-562-2446

Workers at Persad Center, a human service organization that serves the LGBTQ+ and HIV/AIDS communities of the Pittsburgh area, have launched their organizing effort with the United Steelworkers (USW) union.

The unit of 23 workers, ranging from therapists and program coordinators to case managers and administrative staff, announced their union campaign as the Persad Staff Union last night at Spirit Hall and Lodge in Lawrenceville. Earlier in the day, they filed for an election with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The workers have been organizing for several weeks with the goal of gaining a stronger voice to advocate for themselves, their community, and their clients. They also hope for increased stability and transparency, as well as a commitment to hiring a more diverse staff.

“We care deeply about our work and the organization, which we believe will only benefit from greater input from staff,” said Diane Dahm, a clinical therapist at Persad. “We look forward to working with the board and management to make our agency stronger and better equipped to serve the vulnerable communities we work to uplift.”

The Persad Staff Union, which hopes for an election within the next few weeks, would join the growing number of white-collar professionals organizing with the USW in the Pittsburgh region. Their campaign is also in line with the recent work the Steelworkers have been doing to engage their LGBTQ+ members and improving contract language regarding issues that affect their lives.

“It’s important to organize in the communities that need it the most,” said USW Vice President Fred Redmond, who helps lead the union’s LGBTQ+ Advisory Committee. “These workers at Persad perform vital services, and they and their clients deserve to be empowered and heard.”

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

USW Local 63B Begins Strike over Carley Foundry’s Unfair Labor Practices

Fri, 11/01/2019 - 14:06

Contact: Tony Montana – (412) 562-2592; tmontana@usw.org

Blaine, Minn. – The United Steelworkers (USW) said that about 220 hourly production and maintenance workers this morning began a strike against unfair labor practices at Carley Foundry, which supplies parts for customers in the aerospace industry and others.

USW District 11 Director Emil Ramirez said that Carley management’s scheme to divide the members of Local 63B by proposing a lower wage tier for new employees and other economic and contract language changes has instead united them in solidarity.

“Carley has broken federal labor laws in its drive to force workers to accept its unfair and unnecessarily concessionary proposals, and we are standing up to demand the fair contract USW members have earned,” Ramirez said. “As one, we will deliver the message to management that our work has dignity and we deserve the company’s respect.”

Ramirez said that USW members are proud of their work and rank among the most productive and efficient manufacturing workforces in the world.

“Such loyalty and dedication should be rewarded with more secure jobs, earnings and benefits, but Carley has proposed the opposite and insists that its employees accept it,” Ramirez said. “We urge management to return to negotiations at once and bargain in good faith for a fair contract to end the labor dispute and return our brothers and sisters to work as soon as possible.”

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

 

Negotiations Set to Resume November 14 as ASARCO ULP Strike Continues

Wed, 10/30/2019 - 12:02

Contact: Tony Montana – (412) 562-2592; tmontana@usw.org

Tucson, Ariz. – The United Steelworkers (USW) today confirmed that negotiations for a new contract covering about 2,000 hourly workers at five ASARCO, LLC, locations in Arizona and Texas will resume on Nov. 14, 2019.

Members of eight international unions have been on an unfair labor practice (ULP) strike since Oct. 13, when workers rejected the Grupo México subsidiary’s so-called “last, best and final” offer, and struck in protest against ASARCO’s serious unfair labor practices and its rejected contract offer. 

USW District 12 Director Robert LaVenture urged ASARCO management to bargain in good faith for a fair contract to resolve the labor dispute so that union members can return to their jobs and resume production.

“We do not expect that ASARCO will propose anything radically different from the offer its employees overwhelmingly rejected two weeks ago,” LaVenture said. “We do expect the employer to honor its obligation under federal law to negotiate in good faith with us, and we are willing to stay at the table as long as it takes.”

LaVenture praised the union membership for delivering to management the unmistakable, unified and clear message that they will stand together and demand the respect they have earned and deserve.

“When we eventually resolve these issues and win the fair contract that ASARCO desperately wants to deny its workers, it will be thanks to the bravery and dedication of the men and women on the picket lines,” he said. “The history of organized labor teaches the same lesson in many different times and places, and we truly know that workers who are united in solidarity can accomplish great things against long odds.”

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

Maryland, America Lose a Moral Leader with Death of Elijah E. Cummings

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 13:40

CONTACT: Jess Kamm Broomell, 412-562-2444, jkamm@usw.org

United Steelworkers (USW) International President Thomas M. Conway released the following statement regarding the death of U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings:

U.S. Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, an orator of booming voice, a lawmaker of impeccable integrity and a visionary of the potential for all Americans, leaves with his passing a legacy of moral leadership.

Mr. Cummings, son of a sharecropper, served as chairman of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Reform, a group integral to investigations into alleged wrongdoing by the administration. At the same time, he never lost touch with his roots, which included two summers as a steelworker at the now defunct Bethlehem Steel plant at Sparrows Point southeast of Baltimore. He consistently supported labor rights, pay equity and increases in the minimum wage.

Just this past Labor Day, he lamented that the Senate has refused to consider House-passed measures that would raise the minimum wage and reduce pay inequities. He said then, “Unfortunately, too many Americans have been left behind in the modern economy. Every month, working families scrimp and save, only to struggle to afford childcare . . . and across the country, labor unions are being attacked and are losing their right to organize.”

In 2011, when Mr. Cummings took over as minority leader for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, he talked about how his experience working in the Bethlehem steel mill shaped his view on the role of government. He said that after just half an hour in the mill, black soot filled workers’ noses. He wondered how many who labored there eight hours a day for 40 years suffered lung disease as a result and died too early.

The government has a role, he said, to implement air quality and safety regulations to preserve the lives of such workers and protect their communities. “I think it's important for industry to do well,” he said, “but I want them to do well and do good at the same time. If I'm going to err on the side of a person’s welfare and safety, that's where I’m going to err.”

That is the kind of leader Mr. Cummings was. America’s workers will miss him.  

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, and the service and public sectors.

Thousands to Strike against ASARCO’s Unfair Labor Practices

Fri, 10/11/2019 - 13:50

Contact: Tony Montana – (412) 562-2592; tmontana@usw.org

Tucson, Ariz. – The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that about 2,000 hourly workers at five ASARCO LLC, locations in Arizona and Texas voted overwhelmingly to strike against unfair labor practices rather than to accept the Grupo México subsidiary’s so-called “last, best and final” offer.

USW District 12 Director Robert LaVenture said that workers who sacrificed to sustain the company during past downturns have earned and deserve a fair contract with better and more secure earnings, benefits and pensions, but ASARCO has proposed the precise opposite. 

ASARCO’s four-year contract proposal insulted union members at all of the facilities by including no wage increase for nearly two-thirds of workers, freezing the existing pension plan, and more than doubling the out-of-pocket contribution individual workers already pay for health care, LaVenture said.

“Working 12-hour shifts in an open-pit mine, smelter or refinery is difficult and dangerous, and ASARCO employees have not had a wage increase in 10 years,” LaVenture said. “These workers deserve a contract that reflects their contributions.”

LaVenture said that the USW is willing to resume bargaining and ready to meet as long as necessary to negotiate a fair contract, and urged his management counterparts to make resolving the labor dispute an urgent priority.

 “We cannot allow ASARCO managers – even when directed by Grupo executives in Mexico City – to pick and choose which U.S. labor laws and standards apply to them, and the company can’t expect to roll back generations of collective bargaining progress without a fight.”

 “Management has tested these employees for years, and we’ve met their challenges each step along the way,” LaVenture said. “When we march together for fairness and justice at ASARCO, we are delivering a unified message that the company’s attacks on our livelihoods must end and that we are standing up for respect and dignity from this employer.”

Late in the evening of Friday, Oct. 11, after the counting of ballots, the USW, on behalf of itself and the nine other unions representing ASARCO workers, provided 48 hours’ notice to terminate the extension agreement under which the parties have worked since December 1, 2018. 

Following the termination of the extension agreement, picketing will begin simultaneously at ASARCO’s Arizona properties at 11:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time on Sunday, Oct. 13 and at 1:00 a.m. Central Daylight Time on Monday, Oct. 14 at its Amarillo, Texas, facility.

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

USW Members Ratify New Contract at Dow Chemical Plant in Deer Park

Wed, 10/09/2019 - 07:46

CONTACT: Ben Lilienfeld: 832-373-9754,  blilienfeld@usw.org

DEER PARK, Texas (October 8) – Members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 13-1 voted today to ratify a new contract with Rohm and Haas Texas, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical, that covers about 235 workers at the company’s facility in Deer Park.

The contract, which runs through March 1, 2023, contains annual wage increases and other improvements.

“This contract is a testament to the strength and solidarity of the members of this local union, their families, and the entire community of Deer Park, who stood beside them throughout this fight,” said USW District 13 Director Ruben Garza, who oversees bargaining for the union in Texas and three neighboring states. “The members of Local 13-1 should be proud of what they have achieved.”

Bargaining on a new agreement began in February. The company imposed a seven-week lockout of the workers that began on April 22 after USW members voted overwhelmingly three times to reject unacceptable proposals.

After a series of public displays of support for the work force from other union members, residents of the community and elected officials, the company agreed to end the lockout, and workers returned to their jobs on Monday, June 10, as negotiations on a new contract continued.

“This agreement brings closure to difficult negotiations and provides our members with improvements that allow them to maintain family sustaining jobs,” said USW Sub-District Director Ben Lilienfeld, who led the union’s bargaining committee. 

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. 

 

Supreme Court Denies ASARCO’s Petition to Review Copper Bonus Case

Mon, 10/07/2019 - 10:38

Contact: Tony Montana – (412) 562-2592; tmontana@usw.org

Tucson, Ariz.– The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that the U.S. Supreme Court has denied ASARCO, LLC’s petition for a writ of certiorari to review the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s decision to enforce an arbitrator’s order for the company to pay millions of dollars to hundreds of employees hired after June 30, 2011. ASARCO has now exhausted all of its appeals, and must comply with the arbitrator’s decision.

The eight international unions which represent more than 2,000 hourly workers at five ASARCO locations in Arizona and Texas have been fighting to collect the award since December 2014, when Arbitrator Michael Rappaport originally determined that the company wrongly withheld from newer employees quarterly bonuses based on the price of copper.

Prior to the company’s request for the Supreme Court to review the case, the Ninth Circuit twice affirmed U.S. District Judge Stephen M. McNamee’s 2016 decision to enforce the arbitrator’s award, as well as his declaration that ASARCO should pay post-judgment interest, which continues to accrue. The total amount wrongly withheld from ASARCO employees exceeds $10 million.

USW District 12 Director Bob LaVenture said that the company’s attempt to divide the union membership by withholding bonus payments from newer hires backfired and has become an issue that united workers in solidarity within and between ASARCO locations.

“Although ASARCO has delayed and postponed paying the millions of dollars it owes for years, we never stopped fighting to ensure justice for these workers and their families,” LaVenture said. “The company’s constant attempts to undermine our contracts have truly united us in solidarity.”

LaVenture said that the USW is gratified with the Supreme Court’s decision, but warned that the struggle for fairness with ASARCO and its corporate parent, Grupo Mexico, will continue.He said that the union will now work to make sure the company pays what it owes to current and former employees and would provide updates when a timetable is available.

“Management has proven that they are willing to go great lengths to avoid paying employees, but the company has finally run out of room to run from this obligation,” he said. “Asarco management now has no choice but to work with the unions representing its workers to determine what is owed and to pay these workers without further delay.”

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

USW Calls On Mexican Government to Locate Disappeared Union Activist

Tue, 10/01/2019 - 04:56

CONTACT: Ben Davis, 202-550-3729, bdavis@usw.org (Pittsburgh) – The United Steelworkers (USW) union today called on the government of Mexico to take immediate action to locate Oscar Hernández Romero, a union leader and community activist from Cócula, Guerrero who has been missing since September 23. 

Hernández is a leader of opposition to Canadian mining company Torex Gold Resources, which fought an organizing campaign by the independent union Los Mineros in 2018.  Los Mineros suspended their organizing after three union supporters were murdered. No one has been arrested for these crimes.

On Friday, Los Mineros filed a lawsuit on behalf of Hernández’s family demanding that the government investigate his disappearance.

“The Mexican government must act immediately to locate Oscar Hernández Romero and to investigate the murders of the workers killed during the organizing campaign,” said USW International President Tom Conway.

“The continued lack of protections for unionists in Mexico highlights the need for enforceable labor standards in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement and additional resources in Mexico’s labor budget,” Conway said.

The USW has also demanded that the Canadian government hold Canadian mining companies accountable for human rights violations in other countries. 

“This disappearance underscores why Canada needs an independent human rights ombudsperson with real powers to investigate when there are allegations of human rights violations related to Canadian companies,” said USW Canadian National Director Ken Neumann.

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, the service and public sectors and higher education.

 

 

 

 

 

Adjunct Faculty Reaches Contract Settlement with Point Park University

Fri, 09/27/2019 - 14:08

CONTACT: R.J. Hufnagel: (412) 562-2450, rhufnagel@usw.org

Adjunct faculty members at Point Park University, who are members of the United Steelworkers (USW) union, have reached a tentative contract settlement with the downtown Pittsburgh school.

The new three-year contract, if ratified by the members of USW Local 1088, would include wage increases each semester through Spring 2022, along with a number of other contractual improvements that the faculty sought. The previous contract expired on Aug. 1.

The agreement, which covers about 340 adjunct faculty members at Point Park, came after several high-profile public events in support of the instructors, including the distribution of educational leaflets to students and family members when they arrived on campus on Aug. 19.

“The faculty owes a debt of gratitude to the wonderful students and families of Point Park, as well as the full-time faculty for their unwavering support,” said Damon Di Cicco, president of Local 1088 and an adjunct faculty member in the university’s journalism department.

Adjunct faculty members teach roughly half of the classes at the university. The university’s full-time faculty is also unionized, represented by the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

The faculty members will hold informational meetings and ratification votes over the next several weeks.

“This contract represents a victory for the faculty, but more importantly for quality education at Point Park,” said Local 1088 Vice President Sharon Brady. “Faculty working conditions have a direct impact on students’ learning conditions, so this agreement represents a step forward for everyone involved.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. 

Workers at Google Contractor HCL Vote to Join USW

Tue, 09/24/2019 - 12:56

CONTACT:  Jess Kamm Broomell, 412-562-2444, jkamm@usw.org  

The United Steelworkers (USW) union announced today that it is proud to welcome as new members approximately 80 tech workers employed by the Google contractor HCL Technologies.

The workers, who are staffed at the tech giant’s Bakery Square office alongside Google employees, voted today for union representation. They are seeking a voice on the job and the opportunity to bargain over wages and working conditions.

“I’m honored that HCL workers chose to join our union and our fight on behalf of all working people,” said USW International President Thomas M. Conway. “They deserve to have their voices heard. Together, we’ll make sure that they are.”

HCL workers voted in favor of unionization despite a company-led anti-union campaign, which included mandatory meetings and the use of a controversial management consultant.

“Over the past few months, management has implied – and in some cases outright told us – that it’s better to just be quiet than fight for what’s right,” said HCL worker Johanne Rokholt. “Today we have proved that we are not willing to do that.”

The organizing effort began earlier this year through the Pittsburgh Association of Technical Professionals (PATP), a project sponsored by the USW.

The PATP’s primary goals include helping Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania workers in high-tech fields connect and communicate with each other about their working conditions, as well as providing support in organizing and collective bargaining.

“We deserve more respect, dignity and democracy in our relationship with our employer,” said HCL worker Joshua Borden. “We fought for a seat at the table, and today we won. We look forward to bargaining a contract that reflects our important contributions to HCL’s continuing success.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining, the service and public sectors and higher education.

USW Members Ratify New 4-Year Contract with Alcoa

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 20:02

Contact: R.J. Hufnagel: (412) 562-2450, rhufnagel@usw.org

PITTSBURGH (Sept. 19) – Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) voted overwhelmingly this week to ratify a new four-year master agreement that covers about 1,600 production and maintenance workers at five Alcoa facilities in the United States.

The contract includes annual wage increases of more than 12 percent over the term of the agreement and maintains high-quality, affordable health care coverage. The contract covers USW Local 104 at Alcoa’s Warrick, Ind., facility; Local 420A at Massena, N.Y.; Local 5073 at Gum Springs, Ark.; Local 4370 at Point Comfort, Texas; and Local 310A in Wenatchee, Wash. 

“This is a challenging time for these workers, with unfair trade and declining prices taking their toll on the U.S. aluminum industry,” said USW International President Thomas M. Conway. “Thanks to their strength and solidarity, they were able to achieve a fair agreement, one that makes sure they can continue to care for their families and also positions the company for future success.”

Bargaining stretched past the previous contract’s expiration date in May. As talks continued, workers voted to authorize the USW bargaining committee to call a strike if necessary, while they stayed on the job under the terms and conditions of the expired collective bargaining agreement.

“These hard-working union members contribute a tremendous amount to the company’s success, and they stood up and demanded a contract that recognized those contributions,” said USW District 7 Director Mike Millsap, who served as the chair of the union’s Alcoa bargaining committee. “This agreement is a victory for the workers and for the company.”

The new contract, which runs through May 15, 2023, is the first since Alcoa split into two companies in November 2016. Alcoa, which dates to 1888, retained its smelting and refining operations while spinning off a downstream products division now known as Arconic. 

USW members ratified a new contract in July that covers about 3,000 workers at four Arconic facilities. 

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. For more information: www.usw.org

PLRB Officer Orders New Vote for Pitt Grad Employee Union

Wed, 09/18/2019 - 16:48
Contact: R.J. Hufnagel, (412) 562-2450, rhufnagel@usw.org   PITTSBURGH (Sept. 18) – A Pennsylvania Labor Relations Board (PLRB) official has ordered a new union election for graduate student employees at the University of Pittsburgh, ruling that the university committed unfair labor practices in its effort to affect the outcome of the graduate students’ vote in April to join the Academic Workers Association of the United Steelworkers (USW).   In his ruling, Hearing Examiner Stephen Helmerich said that Pitt committed “coercive acts” in order to convince graduates to vote against the union, and that those acts “potentially affected a large enough pool of eligible voters for the affect on the election to be manifest due to the extreme narrowness of the result.”   The ruling stated that Pitt’s anti-union actions included intimidation and misinformation, including creating the impression through emails that it was keeping specific track of who voted, and spreading false information about the subjects over which a potential union could bargain. In addition to ordering a new election, Helmerich ruled that the university must publicly share the decision regarding its violations.    “Sadly, the university has done everything it could since day one to stand in the way of its own graduate students having a voice, including engaging in unlawful conduct,” said USW International President Thomas M. Conway.   “This time around, Pitt must allow these workers to exercise their rights under the law and allow the democratic process to proceed without obstruction,” he said. Pitt grad employees filed for a union election in December 2017, seeking a voice in decisions that affect their working conditions, as well as greater transparency and increased protections against discrimination and harassment. The April 2019 election followed an extensive anti-union campaign by the university, which included paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to Ballard Spahr, a Philadelphia-based law firm that specializes in “union avoidance.” The final tally showed 675 workers voting for the union and 712 no votes.    “Graduate students have known for a long time that we needed to join together in a union,” said Olivia Enders, a graduate student employee in the Department of Instruction and Learning in Pitt’s School of Education. “The recent unexpected increase in the already steep health care costs for our families is just one more example of our need for a collective voice. We hope Pitt learns from this situation and lets us exercise that voice without more illegal interference.”   The Academic Workers Association is part of the USW, which represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil, the service and public sectors and higher education.

USW Stands in Solidarity with Striking Auto Workers

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 11:45

Jess Kamm Broomell, 412-562-2444, jkamm@usw.org   

(Pittsburgh) –United Steelworkers union (USW) International President Tom Conway issued the following statement in support of United Automobile Workers (UAW) members who are on strike with General Motors: 

“The USW stands in total solidarity with striking UAW members, as they undertake this fight with GM. It inevitably falls to workers themselves to protect and advance their interests from runaway corporate greed and the continued abandonment of working-class communities. 

“When it comes to corporate self-interest, management at General Motors has displayed the worst possible behavior, including plant closings and a complete failure to share the rewards UAW members made possible. 

“UAW members had no choice but to stand up for themselves and their families. The USW, at every level of our organization, is prepared to offer assistance and support as they begin this struggle. They have our complete backing and commitment.”

To see Conway’s letter of support to the UAW, click here

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.

USW Condemns HCL Technologies for Anti-Union Tactics as NLRB Election Nears

Mon, 09/16/2019 - 11:25

Contact: Tony Montana – (412) 562-2592 or tmontana@usw.org

PITTSBURGH–The United Steelworkers (USW) today condemned HCL Technologies, Ltd., for coercing employees into mandatory meetings aimed at defeating the workers’ campaign to organize a union and bargain collectively for better, more secure jobs at Google’s Bakery Square offices.

Last month, more than 66 percent of roughly 80 eligible HCL employeessigned cards indicating their desire to be represented by a union, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) scheduled a representation electionfor Sept. 24, 2019.

Since then, HCL has enlisted Eric Vanetti of “Vantage Point Alliance,” a controversial management consultant who gained notoriety in March 2018 for playing a role when Fuyao Glass defeated a union organizing campaign at its facility in Moraine, Ohio, as documented in the filmAmerican Factory.

“We have vast experience after decades of negotiating fair contracts for many thousands of members who work for multinational corporations,” said USW International President Thomas M. Conway, “but in its drive to avoid bargaining in good faith with its employees in America, HCL, like Fuyao, is resorting to the same tactics employers have used for 100 years.”

Conway said “captive audience” meetings like those HCL coerced employees into attending typically begin with managers talking about how they prefer resolving conflicts “within the family” and without a union to advocate on the workers’ behalf. Generally, the company’s behavior evolves into bullying individuals or groups of workers if support for the union persists.

“We are a modern, international union with strategic partnerships around the world and members in every sector of the economy, including a variety of professional workers, from pharmacy technicians to university professors,” he said. “We are proud of the respectful and productive relationships the USW has established with employers and various industry groups through almost 80 years.”

HCL employees will cast secret ballots at the East Liberty branch of the Carnegie Library between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sept. 24, 2019. The votes will be counted and results available immediately, but the NLRB has its own process for certifying the election.

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector, health care, academic, tech and service occupations.

USW: Dem Debate Should Offer Meaningful Discussion of Trade

Thu, 09/12/2019 - 13:38

CONTACT: Holly Hart, 202-778-4384, hhart@usw.org   

(Pittsburgh) –United Steelworkers (USW) International President Thomas M. Conway issued the following statement in advance of the Democratic debate, calling on the 2020 presidential candidates to discuss the details of their proposed trade policies. 

“Each of the Democratic presidential candidates who will debate tonight offers a vision dramatically different from the current president who has only made America less secure and more divided and has left U.S. workers and communities less safe due to deregulation. On so many issues, the president is taking America in the wrong direction.

“On the issue of trade policy, the candidates tonight must provide more specific answers and identify a clear path forward for America’s manufacturing workers.

“American workers and their employers have faced barriers and predatory practices from bad actors across the globe. More than 3.4 million U.S. workers have lost their jobs as a result of China’s illegal trade. Democratic candidates must offer a realistic plan for containing the Chinese dumping and overcapacity that have devastated so many American industries as well as for ending theft of intellectual property.

“Democratic presidential hopefuls must also detail their plans for reforming NAFTA and fashioning any future trade agreements to include better affordable medicine provisions, while incorporating enforceable labor and environmental standards.

“The candidates owe it to all American workers to identify what they will do to ensure that those who work hard and play by the rules have a chance to succeed in the global economy.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.

 

 

 

 

 

Georgia Kumho Tire Workers Vote for USW Representation

Sat, 09/07/2019 - 11:48

CONTACT:   R.J. Hufnagel: (412) 562-2450, rhufnagel@usw.org

MACON, Ga. (Sept. 7) – Workers at the Kumho Tire factory in Macon, Ga., voted this week to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union nearly two years after the initial vote was marred by the company’s numerous violations of workers’ rights.

While some legal challenges remain before the election results are official, the initial vote count showed 141 votes for the union and 137 against, with 13 challenged ballots still to be resolved at an upcoming hearing.

About 325 workers would be in the USW bargaining unit at Kumho.

 “Kumho spent thousands upon thousands of dollars and used every trick in the book to fight its own workers, including suspending a union activist who was eight months pregnant. Still, solidarity prevailed,” said USW District 9 Director Daniel Flippo. “We look forward to resolving these challenges as quickly as possible so that these workers can finally have the chance to sit down with the company and bargaining a fair contract.”

An administrative law judge issued an order in May for a new vote at the Kumho factory after finding that company officials violated workers’ rights during the first election in October 2017.

Following that initial vote, which resulted in a narrow defeat for the union, the USW filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accusing the company of illegal conduct in its effort to suppress the union.

In his ruling, Administrative Law Judge Arthur J. Amchan wrote that the company’s illegal conduct was “pervasive” and that it warranted not only a new election, but the “extraordinary” remedy of requiring company officials to read a notice to employees outlining all of the violations.

Kumho’s violations, Amchan said, included illegally interrogating employees, threatening to fire union supporters, threatening plant closure, and creating an impression of surveillance, among other threats to workers.

“Too often companies try to bully and intimidate workers who simply want to exercise their right to bargain collectively,” said USW International President Thomas M. Conway. “That is simply a losing strategy. Rather than fighting their own workers, employers should work with them to build a better future for everyone.”

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors. 

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