Steelworkers plan fair contract rally in Virginia

VIRGINIA — With contracts set to expire on Sept. 1, local United Steelworkers unions are planning a large-scale rally Thursday to show support for a fair labor contract.

The event, which will include workers at U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal plants on the Iron Range, coincides with a nationwide fair contract rally. Steelworkers held a similar rally in 2015 as the companies and union negotiated a three-year deal, which wrapped up in December of that year.

It begins at 3:30 p.m. at the Miners Memorial Building in Virginia.

“We are asking the entire community to join us at the Miners Memorial Building and stand with members of USW Local 1938,” said John Arbogast, president of USW Local 1938 at Minntac in Mountain Iron.

Unlike 2015, when an industry downturn was pinching Range mines, this round of talks comes as the U.S. steel industry is thriving in light of tariffs implemented by the Trump administration.

Early tension has highlighted the talks to date. U.S. Steel’s latest proposal included signing bonuses of $1,500 and raises of 3.25 percent, 2 percent and 1 percent over the next three years. It would also replace raises with profit-sharing after that time.

“U.S. Steel has given us several concessionary proposals while the company is set to make to billions of dollars,” Arbogast said. “This not only affects the members of 1938 — it will affect every business, spin-off job and building trades contractor on the Range.”

The contract talks impact 18,000 U.S. Steel workers nationwide, and locally Minntac workers in Mountain Iron and Keetac workers in the Keewatin. At ArcelorMittal, negotiations cover 12,000 USW-represented employees in Indiana, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Contracts between USW and Cleveland-Cliffs will expire on Oct. 1.

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