Steelworkers Approve Wheeling-Pitt Deal

October 1, 2001 ( - The United Steelworkers of America (USWA) have approved a modified labor agreement with Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel that will maintain health benefits for current and future retirees, among other items.

The agreement also reportedly includes a special bonus program, an employee stock ownership program that would provide workers with 20% ownership in the company when it emerges from bankruptcy, a “30-and-out” provision that will allow workers with 30 years of service to retire with full pensions and a new profit sharing plan (see also Wheeling-Pittsburgh Labor Agreement Will Impact Pensions ).

The agreement covers some 3,200 workers in the Ohio and Monongahela valleys who work for the steel company, which has been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the past ten months.

According to the USWA, with 91.5% of all eligible voters casting their ballots, the agreement was ratified by a vote of 1,967 to 988.

Benefits Loom Large

Benefits issues have continued to loom large in other recent settlements (see Benefit Programs Play A Role in LTV, Union Agreement ).

In addition to the benefits provisions, the Steelworkers also say the agreement:

  • preserves all current steel operations
  • improves contracting-out language
  • includes “fairness in sacrifice” language that assures that any reductions faced by hourly workers would also be experienced by salaried and non-represented employees

In order for the Wheeling-Pitt settlement to be fully implemented, an agreement must first be finalized among the company’s stakeholders on a program of interim relief for the ailing steelmaker.