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U.S. Steel Reaches Tentative Labor Deal for 66% of Workforce

U.S. Steel Corp. reached a tentative three-year contract with the United Steelworkers union for about two-thirds of its workforce.

The accord would cover 16,000 employees at flat-rolled and iron-ore mining facilities as well as tubular operations in Lorain, Ohio, and Fairfield, Alabama, the company said in a statement. The proposal remains subject to ratification.

“This agreement is in the best interests of our company, our employees and all of our stakeholders,” Chief Executive Officer John Surma said in the statement. The Pittsburgh-based company had about 24,000 workers at the end of last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

U.S. Steel, the country’s largest producer of the metal by volume, negotiated the agreement amid sluggish demand, with sales dropping 2 percent to $5.02 billion in the three months through June.

A union spokesman, R.J. Hufnagel, declined to provide details on the contract before it’s reviewed and voted on by members. The previous accord was set to expire yesterday, and Surma told analysts in late July that the company expected to reach a “competitive agreement.”

One of the key points in negotiations was increasing retiree health-care costs, the union said in a separate statement.

“Both sides worked hard to come up with a solution that continues to provide our current and future retirees with access to high-quality, low-cost medical care,” said Steelworkers International Vice President Tom Conway, the lead negotiator.

Separately, the union is “exchanging proposals” with ArcelorMittal USA on behalf of nearly 14,000 workers at 15 U.S. locations, said USW International President Leo W. Gerard.

USW union members are working under terms of the group’s 2008 contract, Gerard said. USW members will continue to operate ArcelorMittal while negotiations continue, the union said.

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