PITTSBURGH, Aug. 26, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today said that the union reached tentative agreement on a new contract with Cliffs Natural Resources on behalf of about 2,000 members of four local unions at the company's U.S. iron ore mines. Subject to a vote by the membership, the proposed agreement would be retroactive to Oct. 1, 2015 and expire on Oct. 1, 2018.
"After more than a year of difficult negotiations, our committee's hard work and dedication have resulted in a tentative agreement," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "Our members' and retirees' strength and solidarity throughout the bargaining process have been rewarded."
USW District 11 Director Emil Ramirez, who chairs the union's negotiations with Cliffs, praised the members of the bargaining committee from all four of the facilities for standing together and resisting management's attempts to divide them with concessionary proposals.
"We are proud to bring this tentative agreement to the membership for ratification and put the past year of uncertainty behind us," Ramirez said. "Thanks to the solidarity of USW members and retirees within and between our locals, we have negotiated a fair agreement that preserves our wages, benefits and other longstanding rights and protections without lowering the standards of living of current workers or retirees."
USW District 11 Assistant Director John Rebrovich said resolving the contract should allow Cliffs management and hourly union workers to focus on building a more secure future by working together.
"The steel industry has been plagued with unfairly traded imports for too long," Rebrovich said. "Our best hope to solve this problem and to ensure the long term sustainability and viability of our jobs rests with our ability to work jointly with management at Cliffs and throughout the industry."
The USW will now schedule meetings to discuss the proposed new contract with members at each location and begin the ratification process.
The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.
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SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)