Butler County's great daily newspaper

AK Steel union rejects contract offer

April 16, 2019 News Extra

A worker oversees production in the hot mill control room at the AK Steel plant in Butler Township. The company makes electrical steels, stainless steels and carbon slabs.

The labor union at AK Steel’s mill in Butler voted overwhelmingly to reject a contract Monday night.

Various UAW Local 3303 members confirmed that 80 percent of members voted against a tentative contract. Changes in health insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays were causes for frustration for members, who said a 75 cents per hour raise for the contract’s three years falls far short of the rising health costs.

Sam Doctor, a crane operator and active union member from Butler Township, said the contract offered by the company was insulting, given the company and steel industry’s recent success.

“We worked for years during the recession to make things work,” Doctor said. “Now that we’re making money, they want to come to the table and ask for more concessions.”

Lisa Jester, a spokeswoman for AK Steel, confirmed the vote Tuesday and said that the existing contract will remain in effect.

“Both parties have agreed to continue to negotiate and during this time, the terms of the existing contract will remain in effect,” Jester said.

The contract previously covering workers at the mill expired Tuesday.

Two union employees confirmed that a vote authorizing a strike overwhelmingly passed in March. The vote passed with more than 90 percent approval.

This story will be updated in Wednesday’s Butler Eagle.