Coordinated Bargaining Ends in Steel Industry

By Ruben, George | Monthly Labor Review, July 1985 | Go to article overview

Coordinated Bargaining Ends in Steel Industry


Ruben, George, Monthly Labor Review


Unified collective bargaining in the steel industry ended when the five remaining Coordinating Committee Steel Companies voted to disband and bargain individually with the United Steelworkers when their contracts expire in July 1986. In 1956, when the unified approach was initiated, 12 companies participated; since then the number has dwindled. This was particularly true in the last few years as the industry has been buffeted by increased competition from foreign producers, the growing number of lower cost domestic "mini-mills," and the increasing use of alternate materials. These conditions led some of the member companies to merge, sell operations, or to seek and obtain concessionary changes in the industry settlement pattern from the union in an effort to improve their competitive position.

J. Bruce Johnston, executive vice president of U.S. Steel Corp., who was chief bargainer for the five Coordinating Committee Steel Companies, cited several reasons for the breakup, including "sustained financial losses" by member companies, recent joint ventures between U.S. and foreign companies, and rising use of imported semifinished steel. He maintained that, "very clearly, the union has abandoned pattern bargaining" by granting "off-pattern settlements" at a large number of plants that placed U. …

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