November 22, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
47°F
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Layoffs may be topic at union, U.S. Steel meeting

The head of the steelworkers union in Lorain said Thursday a meeting was set for today for workers at the U.S. Steel Corp. No. 3 seamless mill — a meeting that could include word on possible layoffs.

Tom McDermott, president pro-tem of Local 1104 of the U.S. Steelworkers Union, said a meeting was set but he could not verify the subjects to be discussed. Company officials also would not discuss the meeting.

“I’ll know more Friday morning,” McDermott said.

McDermott did verify pending layoffs of employees at the company’s No. 4 seamless mill for about three months so upgrades can be made inside the mill. McDermott indicated there is a chance that an unknown number of workers in the No. 4 mill might be temporarily re-assigned to other jobs.

McDermott said a ruling Wednesday has steelworkers worried.

A Department of Commerce preliminary ruling Wednesday that imposed import tariffs on eight steel-importing countries except South Korea, the single largest exporter of steel tubing into the U.S.

“Dumping” is the term used when a foreign nation sells products in the U.S. at below fair value costs, according to the Commerce Department.

Tariffs were levied on Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines.

U.S. Steel Corp. — the biggest producer of domestic steel — and other American steel-makers filed a trade complaint in 2012 alleging South Korea was selling steel tubing in the U.S. below cost.

The ruling potentially could lead to the loss of “thousands of jobs,” according to McDermott, who said such a development would be a major blow to the Lorain County area, which is seeing a turnaround with the investment of nearly $200 million between U.S. Steel and Republic Steel — which have a developmental partnership and operate alongside one another on East 28th Street.

The U.S. Steel Tubular Plant has seen a $100 million finishing line commissioned as part of its seamless steel pipe operations.

Republic Steel is expected to add 450 new employees for its $87 million electric arc furnace, which has experienced problems including a multi-million fire last November that set the project back.

“The Koreans make the same tubeless pipe we make here in Lorain,” McDermott said.

A final ruling on the anti-dumping issue is expected in August by the U.S. International Trade Commission.

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.


  • disqus_F2b1BGK10B

    They have 18 union members on layoff since Xmas eve and just put a bunch more on
    Layoff today. It is amazing that it was all done with out the union knowing?

    • concerned union member

      The union did know. But like always they don’t do their elected jobs especially the so called rep for 3 .why didn’t they tell the guys laid off at Christmas to file unemployment? Why are the union officials treating people with less than 3 years like they don’t even have their 1040 hrs in? Quote the #3 rep If you have less than 2 years in, why are you bothering me”
      Why did they let the company stop insurance in Dec when their affected layoff day was Jan 4th but by rule should have had insurance till the end of January??

      if the rumors are true.. they are letting workers from #4 replace workers from#3 but won’t let guys with more time to go to #6 …. ???

    • Stay United

      I was just made aware of this discussion thread. Allow me to address some of the concerns made here.

      For those of you who have contract books, please refer to Article 8,
      Section A. Employment Security. Paragraph 2 states in part, “The Company agrees that, prior to implementing any layoffs of Employees with more than three (3) years of Continuous Service, it shall review and discuss with the Union:

      Those who were placed on layoff did not yet have three (3) years of Continuous Service. The Company is not obligated under the above language to notify the Union in this situation. When rumors start about the possibility of layoffs, the Union contacts the Company for a response. The Company would not confirm layoffs. It would be great if the Company would be forthcoming with information but the reality is that they are not.

      The #3 rep found out about the layoffs through an Employee in 3 Seamless who was presented with layoff paperwork on Friday, 12/27/13. Prior to that Friday, layoffs were an unsubstantiated rumor.

      If concerned union member would like to quote somebody, they should not use hearsay as a quote. I know the quote to be hearsay because I am the person being accused of making it. In text records with multiple people on the subject, Article 8, Section A was explained. There are people who think that just because certain language is not ideal, that it needs to be changed. While there is plenty of room in the Basic Labor Agreement (BLA) to solidify language, it is not an easy process to do so. The Company is not usually receptive of changes to the BLA that gives us more rights while hindering their ability to do what they want. Language changes that do not take place are not due to a lack of trying on the Unions part during Contract negotiations.

      On the subject of insurance benefits being cancelled at the end of December, the Union did not let the Company do this. This is something we are actively looking into. The Company took a unique position on the status of Employee benefits as it relates to those placed on layoff January 5th (not January 4th as mentioned by concerned union member). My interpretation of the Program of Insurance Benefits (PIB) language in Section 8 (8.13(d)and (e)) should have allowed for health care benefits through at least January. As stated before, this is something that we are actively looking into. Speaking on the rumors of Employees replacing others in other departments, this is not something that can contractually take place. Each department has a separate Lines Of Progression (LOP) that would prevent this from happening unless a very specific series of events come to be. The current events do not lend themselves to support that rumor.

      To address displaced steel worker’s concerns, you are partially correct. It is my firm belief supported by personal knowledge obtained through years of working both in the plant, and in meetings as an active Union member, the Company does not care. To say the Union doesn’t care is very short sighted. The Union is working to address these injustices and hardships being placed everybody. We are also constantly preparing for Contract negotiations.

      Joe Sandor explains the Company mindset accurately. The Company is well aware of what they are doing. There are 18 Employees who would have received 3 years of Continuous Service on 02/28/14. Had those Employees obtained 3 years a number of things would have had to happen. The Company would have had to review and discuss with the Union prior to placing them on layoff. The Company would have had to make Supplemental Unemployment Benefits (Article 8, Section B) available to all 18. This would have cost the Company a minimum of $18,000 per month. The Company is not interested in incurring that cost. The Company actions were calculated and deliberate. If you look at how they scheduled vacations, they did so to prevent people from being eligible for Vacation Bonus (Article 10, Section C).

      All of this has been explained to everybody I have spoken with. I am bound by the BLA regardless of personal beliefs on certain language within. The BLA was proposed to the membership and was ratified for better or worse. This is our legal document until September 1, 2015.

  • displaced steel worker

    The whole situation is a joke. Currently 7 days away from my 3 year anniversary. The company won’t allow us to perform janitorial duties like the group in Dec. The company doesn’t care and neither does our union.

    • Joe Sandor

      Why should the company let you work, just so they can pay out insurance costs? It is an unnecessary expense. Of course, you can ask YOUR union to cover the insurance premium.

  • SniperFire

    The Farm Bill is agricultural dumping. Some dumping we like, others, not so much.

  • Stay United

    I was just made aware of this discussion thread. Allow me to address some of the concerns made here.

    For those of you who have contract books, please refer to Article 8,
    Section
    A. Employment Security. Paragraph 2 states in part, “The Company agrees
    that, prior to implementing any layoffs of Employees with more than
    three (3) years of Continuous Service, it shall review and discuss with
    the Union:

    Those who were placed on layoff did not yet have three (3) years of
    Continuous Service. The Company is not obligated under the above
    language to notify the Union in this situation. When rumors start about
    the possibility of layoffs, the Union contacts the Company for a
    response. The Company would not confirm layoffs. It would be great if
    the Company would be forthcoming with information but the reality is
    that they are not.

    The #3 rep found out about the layoffs through an Employee in 3
    Seamless who was presented with layoff paperwork on Friday, 12/27/13.
    Prior to that Friday, layoffs were an unsubstantiated rumor.

    If concerned union member would like to quote somebody, they should
    not use hearsay as a quote. I know the quote to be hearsay because I am
    the person being accused of making it. In text records with multiple
    people on the subject, Article 8, Section A was explained. There are
    people who think that just because certain language is not ideal, that
    it needs to be changed. While there is plenty of room in the Basic Labor
    Agreement (BLA) to solidify language, it is not an easy process to do
    so. The Company is not usually receptive of changes to the BLA that
    gives us more rights while hindering their ability to do what they want.
    Language changes that do not take place are not due to a lack of trying
    on the Unions part during Contract negotiations.

    On the subject of insurance benefits being cancelled at the end of
    December, the Union did not let the Company do this. This is something
    we are actively looking into. The Company took a unique position on the
    status of Employee benefits as it relates to those placed on layoff
    January 5th (not January 4th as mentioned by concerned union member). My
    interpretation of the Program of Insurance Benefits (PIB) language in
    Section 8 (8.13(d)and (e)) should have allowed for health care benefits
    through at least January. As stated before, this is something that we
    are actively looking into. Speaking on the rumors of Employees replacing
    others in other departments, this is not something that can
    contractually take place. Each department has a separate Lines Of
    Progression (LOP) that would prevent this from happening unless a very
    specific series of events come to be. The current events do not lend
    themselves to support that rumor.

    To address displaced steel worker’s concerns, you are partially
    correct. It is my firm belief supported by personal knowledge obtained
    through years of working both in the plant, and in meetings as an active
    Union member, the Company does not care. To say the Union doesn’t care
    is very short sighted. The Union is working to address these injustices
    and hardships being placed everybody. We are also constantly preparing
    for Contract negotiations.

    Joe Sandor explains the Company mindset accurately. The Company is
    well aware of what they are doing. There are 18 Employees who would have
    received 3 years of Continuous Service on 02/28/14. Had those Employees
    obtained 3 years a number of things would have had to happen. The
    Company would have had to review and discuss with the Union prior to
    placing them on layoff. The Company would have had to make Supplemental
    Unemployment Benefits (Article 8, Section B) available to all 18. This
    would have cost the Company a minimum of $18,000 per month. The Company
    is not interested in incurring that cost. The Company actions were
    calculated and deliberate. If you look at how they scheduled vacations,
    they did so to prevent people from being eligible for Vacation Bonus
    (Article 10, Section C).

    All of this has been explained to everybody I have spoken with. I am
    bound by the BLA regardless of personal beliefs on certain language
    within. The BLA was proposed to the membership and was ratified for
    better or worse. This is our legal document until September 1, 2015.