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Negotiations Continue Beyond Union Contract Expiration

Jeffrey Zeldman
The United Steelworkers Union continues to negotiate with US Steel and ArcelorMittal

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden fired up the crowd gathered in Pittsburgh Monday to mark Labor Day by calling on union members to “keep fighting” in what he called a national “war on labor.”  His comments came at a time when 2,200 United Steel Workers Union members at Allegheny Technologies Inc. plants have been locked out and another 30,000 USW workers at ArcelorMittal are working without a contract.

Philip Dine, labor expert and author of State of the Unions agrees with Biden and adds that he thinks the war is leading to the decline of the middle class. 

“Labor hasn’t always done a very good job of making that sort of macro case of why a strong labor movement is in the national interest, not just in the interest of union members,” said Dine on 90.5 WESA’s Essential Pittsburgh.

Dine said more than 30,000 workers are fired every year for trying to form a union. “Labor feels like its fighting for its life.”

Dine takes the long look at the union movement saying good union contracts create a ripple effect impacting wages for nonunion workers as well.

When companies raise their employees’ wages and don’t declare “war” on them, Dine said, there is less turnover, happier workers, more stability, and companies do better financially.

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.