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Mtn. St. Carbon Contract Concerns

Updated: Thursday, October 17 2013, 07:54 PM EDT

By Jennifer Black


Thursday morning, NEWS9 learned more about the contract voted down by USW workers that work at Mountain State Carbon in Follansbee, W.Va.

This is the first time a contract has come up for a vote since the coke plant was taken over by Severstal North America last September.

During the last 13 months, the plant's workers have been without a contract, and after Wednesday's vote, it appears it will stay that way for a while longer.

The workers' concerns were big enough to lead to an overwhelming rejection of the proposed contract by a vote of 181-7, and contract negotiators said they are now headed back to the bargaining table.

“We don’t want to hurt this company one bit,” said USW District 1 Representative Santo Santoro.  “There's some issues in there, non-costly issues, just shuffle things around.”

Santoro is part of the negotiating team, along with the former vice president of Local 1190 Don Hubbard, who said there are issues with vacation time, retirement funds and a guaranteed 40-hour work week.

“The vast majority of these men and women have 35 plus years working at this facility. We feel we deserve our full five weeks' vacation,” Hubbard said in a statement.

According to Hubbard, another sticking point is that it would take three years to vest in a 401(k) plan, and Hubbard believes many workers would be retired before they could even collect.

“Compromise and cooperation is the key to solving these labor issues, the union has proven that it is willing to bend, now Severstal/mountain state carbon need to do the likewise,” Hubbard said.

Santoro agreed, saying they are willing to meet anywhere, anytime.

“Whatever it takes we want to sit down and try to work this out and get it over with as fast as we can,” Santoro said.

USW representatives to whom NEWS9 spoke said they will continue to negotiate to get the best results for the 200-plus workers who currently work at the plant.

NEWS9 contacted Severstal North America for a statement, but has not yet heard back.

Mtn. St. Carbon Contract Concerns

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