ATI Workers are on the picket lines again—health care is at the heart of the struggle

In 2015 Allegheny Technologies, Inc. locked out USW workers in Brackenridge, PA and other locations. Those workers and then USW President Leo Gerard told the story of that battle to maintain health benefits in the documentary “Off the Table.”

History repeats itself as ATI workers are again courageously walking the line in a similar health care fight. The updated 20 minute documentary is here. An updated union single payer resolution is here. Now more than ever, unions and workers must win national single payer health care.

Striking ATI Steelworkers Hold the Line for Premium-Free Health Insurance

June 14, 2021 / Peter Knowlton

Across the country, steelworkers at nine plants of Allegheny Technologies, Inc. have been on strike for the last 11 weeks.

They want raises; to stop contracting out; to secure full funding of their retirement benefits; and to beat back management’s efforts to introduce health insurance premiums and a second tier of coverage for younger workers.

The Steelworkers union (USW) accuses ATI of unfair labor practices including bad faith bargaining, and of holding retiree benefits hostage for contract concessions.

ATI, which is headquartered in Pittsburgh, makes steel used in aerospace and defense, oil and gas, chemical processes, and electrical energy generation.

Five years ago ATI locked workers out for seven months, demanding major concessions on wages, pensions, and health insurance. Workers fought off the bulk of those demands, though the company was able to shed future liability for the pension by replacing it with a 401(k) for anyone hired after 2015—a huge cost shift to workers that makes a decent retirement at age 65 unlikely for new hires.

There were 2,200 workers at 12 unionized sites back then. There are 1,300 at nine sites this time around.

Most of the shops are in areas still reeling from the deindustrialization of the ’80s and ’90s. Five are in western Pennsylvania: Canton Township, Brackenridge, Latrobe, Natrona Heights, and Vandergrift. The others are in Louisville, Ohio; Lockport, New York; East Hartford, Connecticut; and New Bedford, Massachusetts, where 60 members are on strike.

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Peter Knowlton is the retired general president of the United Electrical Workers (UE).

Pledge your solidarity with ATI workers.