United Steelworkers deem ASARCO’s proposal ‘insulting’

“Insulting” is how the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 866, in Hayden, described ASARCO’s first economic proposal last month.

“Today, ASARCO gave us an insulting economic proposal. No wage increases and significant changes to healthcare,” the union said in its Feb. 27 Facebook post. “We meet again tomorrow.”

In a follow-up post March 1, the United Steelworkers said, “This initial proposal had no wage increases and significant changes to the healthcare and benefit plans. Instead of including a proposal on the copper price bonus, they left it simply as ‘TBD’ (to be determined).”

ASARCO had also proposed that the union withdraw all of its proposals, except for some that had already been agreed upon, and that it accept all of the company’s open proposals, the March 1 post stated.

“We made it clear to the company that this initial proposal is insulting and far from what our members deserve,” the union said. “We know that without appropriate wage increases and protections, it will be difficult for the company to retain a skilled and talented workforce that can operate efficiently and safely.”

The United Steelworkers had requested “key information” from the company, the March 1 post stated.

“Getting this information is an important part of the negotiation process.”

The union instructed its members to keep working and stay safe in the meantime.

Phone messages left by the Silver Belt for ASARCO officials were not returned as of press time.

The new year began with the possibility of a strike against ASARCO still looming, especially in light of ongoing contract issues including withholding of copper price bonuses since 2011.

On Jan. 8, the United Steelworkers had posted on its Facebook page that the union and the company had not met since Dec. 13, 2018.

While the union requested dates from ASARCO to continue negotiations, the company had yet to respond, it said.

“We are still working under the current agreement on a day-to-day basis with 48 hours’ notice to terminate,” the Jan. 8 post stated. “The company has an obligation to meet with the union and should do so immediately.”

On Dec. 3, 2018, strike authorization meetings were held in Amarillo, Texas, as well as Kearny/Hayden and Tucson.

In its Facebook post, the union told its members they had spoken “loud and clear” at the meetings to authorize its bargaining committee to call a strike when necessary.

The union instructed its members to continue to report to work until told otherwise.

“We will stand together until we get a fair contract,” the Dec. 3 post stated.

With a contract set to expire at midnight Nov. 30, 2018, the bargaining committee had made “excellent progress” in prior weeks, negotiating updates to local supplemental agreements.

Unfortunately, ASARCO repeatedly said it was not ready to make a full proposal on the basic labor agreement until that week, according to the union’s Nov. 28 post.

On Nov. 27, the company gave the union a non-economic proposal, even though it had promised an economic one, as well.

After not receiving the economic proposal, the union held its three Dec. 3 strike meetings.

“Clearly, the company isn’t taking us seriously,” the union’s Nov. 28 post stated.


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