·  USW

USW Welcomes Agreement Between Liberian Mining Union and ArcelorMittal

Contact: Mike Zielinski, (240) 475-9845

(Pittsburgh) -- The United Steelworkers (USW) today extended its congratulations to the members of the United Workers Union of Liberia (UWUL) who after years of organizing have achieved the first collective bargaining agreement with a mining company since Liberia’s civil war forced the shutdown of the iron ore mines in the mid-1990s.

In an August 30th signing ceremony in Monrovia, representatives of UWUL and ArcelorMittal affirmed a new labor contract, which includes pay raises of more than 20%. It also standardizes pay for workers doing similar jobs, increases workers’ transportation allowance and provides expanded educational opportunities for children.

UWUL launched the initial organizing drive at ArcelorMittal in 2008 with training and support from the USW.  The union won a representation election in 2009 and since then has worked closely with the USW during a protracted period of negotiations, which culminated in the new collective bargaining agreement.

“It’s been a long journey,” said UWUL Secretary General  David Sackoh, “but persistence overcomes resistance and today we can celebrate a landmark agreement, which will provide a model for future contracts as more multinational mining companies come to Liberia.

“Our partnership with the USW was instrumental in assisting us with training and solidarity.”

USW International President Leo W. Gerard hailed the progress in Liberia:  “Our union recognizes that these achievements are only possible when workers come together and organize.  Through strong unions like UWUL, workers ensure that companies like ArcelorMittal are held accountable for safe working conditions and improved standards for workers and their families.”

The USW represents about 850,000 workers in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean in a wide variety of industries, ranging from glassmaking to mining, paper, steel, tire and rubber to the public sector, service and health care industries.

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