By Mischa Gaus
LaborNotes – November 29, 2010
U.S. Steel is trying to drive a wedge between generations, locking out steelworkers in Hamilton, Ontario, when union negotiators would not take a deal that sold out past and future workers.
Steelworkers Local 1005 refused to bring a contract back to its 900 members that would have ended cost-of-living increases for 9,000 pensioners and dumped future workers into a shaky 401(k)-style retirement plan.
Current workers, meanwhile, were presented with a deal that would weaken their supplemental unemployment benefit, a key to survival for workers who have been idled for much of the last two years as steel demand dwindled. At the last minute the company backed down on concessions aimed at current workers, trying to convince them to forget about others.