Steelwork, despite all the advances in safety and technology, remains a dangerous occupation. Steelwork is a unionized endeavor, which means that, if you are a steelworker, most of your benefits come from your union contract and not from government guarantees. Any renegotiated contract is extremely important for new and old steelworkers. The negotiating committee, this past week, decided to allow a union wide up or down vote on the contract.
The contract addresses many standard issues such as wages, raises, signing bonuses and 401(k) contributions. The issue for U.S. Steel and the industry in general, is that steelwork has been declining for the past decade or so. It has resulted in a general decline across the entire steel industry.
More importantly, the contract deals with health benefits for workers hired after Jan. 1, 2016. It essentially eliminates retiree benefits for these new workers. Steelwork is a difficult and dangerous job, so health benefits should be an overwhelming concern for steelworkers. Medical issues are likely to crop up sooner in this industry and to cause long-lasting effects after retirement.
Steelwork, like many other industrial jobs, is regulated by the union and the government. Both of these entities provide protections, so it is important that you be familiar with both of these bodies of law. Unfortunately, injuries that occur in the steelwork and other industrial environments can be quite serious in nature. Medical coverage and protections are extremely important for those who engage in these forms of heavy labor.
If you or a loved one was injured while on the job in a union-based job, then you may want to speak to an attorney. As a unionized worker, you have both government and contract rights. It is important that you review both of these sources before deciding the best course of action.
Source: Pittsburg Post-Gazette, “Steelworkers receive contract offer,” Len Boselovic, Jan. 9, 2016