* Rallies held at 15 plants and Chicago headquarters
* Union-company talks continue
* ArcelorMittal stock closes down 1.8 percent on NYSE
By Steve James
Sept 5 Unionized steelworkers staged rallies
outside all of ArcelorMittal's plants in the
United States on Wednesday, accusing the steelmaker of dragging
its feet in talks over a new labor contract.
Tony Montana, a spokesman for the United Steelworkers union
(USW) said the "corporate-wide mobilizations" took place at 15
ArcelorMittal plants, as well as at the company's U.S.
headquarters in Chicago.
"Our members held spirited rallies to show their solidarity
with our bargaining committee as we continue negotiating for a
fair contract at ArcelorMittal," Montana told Reuters in a
He described the actions as "a variety of activities,"
including informational picketing, chanting and marching.
The Luxembourg-based company, the world's largest
steelmaker, took precautionary measures at its plants last week
in case of a strike. The union said it has not taken the strike
option off the table.
Montana said negotiations were continuing with ArcelorMittal
after the union separately reached a tentative agreement on a
new contract with U.S. Steel Corp on Sunday for more than
The USW's previous contracts with U.S. Steel and
ArcelorMittal both expired at midnight on Saturday.
"With U.S. Steel reaching a tentative agreement over the
weekend, why does ArcelorMittal continue to drag its feet?"
David McCall, chairman of the USW negotiating committee, said in
a letter to about 10,000 USW members at the company's plants in
Indiana, Ohio and other U.S. states.
The union said the main sticking points in the contract
talks were over funding for retiree health-care premiums and for
William Steers, a spokesman for ArcelorMittal USA in
Chicago, did not comment on the USW action.
"Negotiations continue between ArcelorMittal and the United
Steelworkers. We remain optimistic about reaching a fair and
equitable contract with the USW," he said in an e-mail to
The possibility of a work stoppage comes at a difficult time
for the steel industry, which is suffering from weak demand and
low prices. U.S. steelmakers have cut capacity to manage supply,
but demand has still not returned to pre-recession levels.
Last month, ArcelorMittal said tough market conditions would
continue into the second half of the year, particularly in
Europe, where it lowered its consumption forecast due to the
severity of the slowdown.
ArcelorMittal stock closed down 1.8 percent at $14.38 on the
New York Stock Exchange.