Local 2911 schedules voting to authorize strike

WEIRTON — Members of United Steelworkers Local 2911 at ArcelorMittal Weirton are being asked to attend one of two meetings Monday to take a strike authorization vote.

Local 2911 President Mark Glyptis said the vote, which will be taken at meetings at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the union hall, 2971 West St., is not to call a strike. Rather, he said, it is a tool that can move the stalled negotiations with the company.

Negotiations started in early July. Three years ago, the union and ArcelorMittal did not reach a contract until March, about six months after the expiration of the previous deal.

“I want to emphasize we are not seeking a strike. We are seeking to have meaningful dialogue in negotiations to reach an agreement that is fair. That is what the purpose of the strike authorization is,” he said. “This is not a call for a strike. It is a call to sit down and get this thing done.”

“At this point, we have stalled as far as our discussions that have taken place,” he said.

Union bylaws require a favorable response on a strike authorization, and Glyptis anticipates a favorable response.

Glyptis said the 2015 contract was negotiated in much less favorable economic conditions than the steel industry is facing today.

“The company finds itself in a very favorable economic position and making a significant amount of money,” he said. “Our contract demands have been fair. We understand that we need a viable company, and we certainly were able to negotiate a contract that was very beneficial to the company three years ago.”

He said the company is being difficult on two major points: Health care costs and pensions.

“Those are two major benefits that we believe our members and retiree base deserve,” Glyptis continued.

He said the union’s economic advisers spent time with the USW local presidents and the negotiating team going over the points in negotiations. He said the negotiating team is very experienced.

“We believe all of our demands are well within reason. All we are asking for is a fair contract,” he said. “We do not believe we are overreaching at all.”

He noted a strike authorization vote was used a couple of contracts ago, and negotiations moved forward after that.

The ArcelorMittal contract with the Steelworkers expired Sept. 1, but both sides agreed to extend it while talks continued, with a 48-hour notice to be given by either side if the contract was to come to an end.

The USW took a strike authorization vote last week as negotiations continue at U.S. Steel.

There are 13 USW locals throughout ArcelorMittal representing about 15,000 workers. There are about 800 active workers in Local 2911.