SEPT-ÎLES, Que.—The 2,000 United Steelworkers (USW) members at ArcelorMittal operations in Fermont and Port-Cartier, Quebec, have ratified a four‑year collective agreement.
Late last week, the workers voted almost unanimously to reject a contract offer, which included a two-tier pension concession, and to issue a 72-hour notice of a strike.
USW says that during negotiations over the weekend, ArcelorMittal dropped its two-tier pension demand and a tentative agreement was reached.
The Canadian divisions of ArcelorMittal, the international steel and mining firm headquartered in Luxembourg, released a statement saying the weekend negotiations were “intensive” on May 8.
The agreement was ratified by union members May 11.
In addition to pension improvements, the deal provides workers at ArcelorMittal’s Fire Lake Mine with contract parity with their colleagues at the company’s Mont‑Wright mine. USW says the wage gap between workers at the two mines was previously as high as $8 an hour.
The agreement also includes annual wage increases ranging from 2.2 per cent to 3 per cent, an increase in basic pension benefits and health benefits, and restrictions on subcontracting.
Office employees will also return to a 40-hour work week, which USW says reverses a cut in hours made last year.
“It’s an excellent contract. Thanks to the mobilization and determination of our members, they have ensured younger workers will benefit from the same pension plan that previous generations fought for and, in fact, they have improved the plan for all current and retired workers. There’s reason to be proud,” said Nicolas Lapierre, Steelworkers Area coordinator for Quebec’s North Shore region.