What is Coordinated Bargaining?

In addition to our efforts to coordinate bargaining at USW organized facilities in the Steel, Paper and Energy industries as a way of increasing our collective bargaining strength, we coordinate our bargaining efforts with units of other International Unions.

In numerous cases, creating and preserving industry-wide contract patterns means coordinated bargaining. We work with other unions which also represent workers in the industry in an effort to create or preserve industry-wide or company-wide contract patterns. Many USW Industry Conferences, such as Aluminum and Container, are involved in these efforts. One long-standing example is the General Electric Collective Bargaining Committee, where the USW has worked with the International Union of Electronics Workers (IUE) and the United Electrical Workers (UE).

Mining is another industry with a long tradition of solidarity. At Rio Tinto's Kennecott Copper, for example, the Kennecott Coordinated Bargaining Committee consists of local unions belonging to the USW, the International Association of Machinists (IAM), the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), and the Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU). Together, they represent 1,300 workers at the largest open pit mine in the world.

The USW and the Machinists began bargaining in 2002 with Armstrong World Industries, Inc. for contracts at all locations. Other Unions involved are UNITE HERE (The merged Textile Employees and Restaurant Employees Union) and the Teamsters. Another example of working with other International Unions is Steelworkers at Gerdau Ameristeel Steel where we are working with members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) to improve conditions in their mills. In addition, we coordinate our bargaining with the UA W in the automotive parts industry where the industry is facing many challenges.

Globalization poses a significant challenge to our Union's 60-year commitment to industry-wide pattern bargaining. The USW's response to globalization's "race to the bottom" on wages, benefits, working conditions and environmental standards is to forge global alliances of workers and unions.

Our Union is active in four Global Union Federations - the International Metalworkers Federation (IMF), the International Federation of Chemical, Energy, Mine and General Workers' Unions (ICEM), the Building and Wood Workers' International (BWI) and the International Union of Food, Agriculture and Restaurant Workers (IUF). The USW has urged each organization to develop the ability to coordinate global campaigns against the efforts of giant transnational corporations to slash the wages and benefits of workers on every continent.

Our Union has also worked to create global union councils, or networks, to share information, coordinate bargaining strategies and wage contract campaigns on a world-wide scale against common employers such as Bridgestone/Firestone, Goodyear and Rio Tinto.