One of the most consequential provisions in a new four-year labor contract negotiated between U.S. Steel and the United Steelworkers (USW) union is a commitment from the company to pump $1 billion in capital investment into its plants over those four years. The investment will spur job creation at the company’s plants (including three at the Mon Valley Works near Pittsburgh, where the company is based) far into the future and is especially welcome in an economy racked first by the pandemic, and now by unrelenting inflation.
PMA President & CEO David N. Taylor applauded the agreement, which is expected to be ratified under a unanimous recommendation from the union’s bargaining team.
“U.S. Steel’s commitment to increased production is welcome news for the company’s outstanding workforce and their families. It couldn’t come at a better time for Pennsylvania’s economy,” Taylor said.
The new contract covers approximately 11,000 USW workers, 2,700 in the Pittsburgh region, and it includes the company’s domestic flat-rolled facilities, iron ore mining facilities, and applicable tubular operations.
Beyond the commitment to capital investment, the tentative deal includes a five percent base pay increase each year, with more than 21% guaranteed base wage increases over the life of the four-year contract.
The agreements also come on the heels of the company’s “Inflation Recognition Payments;” workers have received on average more than $1200 each in 2022 under the program.
“I appreciate the efforts of both sides to work towards a fair and mutually beneficial agreement,” Dave Burritt, U.S. Steel CEO, said in a statement announcing the agreement. “The agreement includes sustainable and substantial base wage increases, an appreciation bonus, a new floating holiday, and increased contributions to the Steelworkers Pension Trust. It also includes active healthcare that allows you to keep the same providers.”
The $1 billion capital investment commitment is something that USW spokesman Tony Montana said the workers negotiate for in every new contract with US Steel and other steel manufacturers.
“What we’re looking for is a commitment to grow jobs,” Montana said. “This means going beyond an investment into maintenance and repair. We want an investment that grows the business.”
Job opportunities are filled with the help of the Institute for Career Development (ICD), a negotiated benefit for eligible members of the United Steelworkers and the companies that employ them, according to the ICD website.
ICD members can choose from a wide range of course offerings to learn new skills or update old ones. The Institute has 65 locations in the steel, tire & rubber, glass, container and utility sectors and it includes 16 participating companies.
Montana said that the USW is also looking to Congress to renew the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program, that for 60 years has funded training for workers whose jobs have been disrupted by foreign competition, some of it unfair. More than five million workers have participated in the program.
But the program terminated on July 1, though it continues to temporarily serve current enrollees. Unless Congress approves new funding, the program will phase out entirely.
The tentative contract agreement not only supports local workers and their families, but supports thousands of downstream jobs. And the agreement is a tribute to the legacy of the partnership between the steel industry and union workers in Pittsburgh.
Overall, the American steel industry accounts for more than $520 billion in economic output. The Pennsylvania output adds $20 billion to our economy in direct steel industry impacts. Finally, with U.S. Steel being the leading steel producer in the country, this agreement is crucial to reinforcing Pittsburgh’s domestic leadership role in the industry.
In October, U.S. Steel was featured in Newsweek’s Most Loved Workplaces list for the second year in a row – the company ranked 71st among the top 100 companies recognized for employee happiness and satisfaction at work in 2022.
The steelmaker has also been recognized for providing an inclusive, diverse workplace. For three years in a row, U. S. Steel has received a 100% score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index. U. S. Steel has also earned Disability: IN’s “Best Places to Work for Disability Inclusion” designation. And the company was recognized as “Leading on Leave” for its enhanced bereavement policy by the National Partnership for Women and Families.
With a renewed focus on skilled trade jobs in the United States, companies like U.S. Steel are setting the standard for what those opportunities mean for the next generational American workforce.