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USW, Cleveland-Cliffs reach tentative labor agreement that includes 20% hike in base pay | Northwest Indiana Business Headlines

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The United Steelworkers union and Cleveland-Cliffs reached a tentative labor agreement after months of negotiation.

The two sides tentatively agreed to a four-year deal that must be ratified by steelworkers. It would cover 12,000 USW-represented steelworkers at Cleveland-Cliffs mills and mines like Burns Harbor Works, Indiana Harbor Works—East, Indiana Harbor Works—West, Riverdale, New Carlisle, Coatesville, Steelton, Conshohocken, Cleveland Works, Warren, Columbus, Weirton and Minorca.

“Our employees are the heart and soul of Cleveland-Cliffs,” Chairman, President and CEO Lourenco Goncalves said. “The USW is a partner and an ally, and we look forward to sharing in our future success together. This agreement allows us to do just that, while keeping our cost structure highly competitive.”

The USW said it improves base wages by 20% over current levels. The contract also requires no employee health care premiums and no changes to any cost sharing. It removes the requirement for spouses to elect other employer coverage, includes coverage for disposable insulin pumps for diabetics and provides coverage for eye exams and frames or lenses every 12 months regardless of whether there’s a change in vision.

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USW had just reported significant progress on a new contract to its members Friday night.

“Our bargaining over local issues, health care benefits and capital expenditure has resulted in important progress for our members in terms of working conditions and job security,” USW said in an update to members shortly before the tentative pact was announced Saturday. “We remain engaged with Cliffs at the table over major economics. The company needs to limit its exposure to certain future costs associated with retiree benefits but recognizes that steelworkers deserve to retire with dignity.”

The current contract expires in September. Steelworkers will get a chance to vote on the new collective bargaining agreement, the details of which should be mailed to them soon.

Cleveland-Cliffs is the largest flat-rolled steel producer in North America, employing more than 7,500 workers at its mills in East Chicago and Burns Harbor. It has been a mine operator since 1847 and then bought out two of its biggest customers, ArcelorMittal USA and AK Steel, at the end of 2020. It’s now a vertically integrated steelmaker that mines raw materials, produces steel and handles downstream finishing, stamping, tooling and tubing. 

It’s the largest supplier to the American automotive industry with more than 27,000 total employees in North America.

Contract talks remain underway with U.S. Steel, which offered an 11% increase in pay over four years.

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