Union Steelworkers' Strike In New Bedford Nears 3-Month Mark
Next week marks three months since union steelworkers at New Bedford’s Allegheny Technologies went out on strike.
The metals company wants workers to start paying health insurance premiums in 2024, but employees say not paying premiums is still normal in their industry, the cost would negate their raises.
Will Monteiro, a machine operator at Allegheny and president of United Steelworkers’ Local 1357 in New Bedford, said employees haven’t had a wage increase since 2014.
“They basically told us that if we want a wage increase ... we'd have to find them ways to save money in the contract,” he said. “And so basically [they were] telling us to negotiate against ourselves. There was no economic gain in this contract at all.”
About 1,300 steelworkers are striking at nine Allegheny plants across the country. The New Bedford plant mills rolled metals into finer gauges for things like aircraft and medical equipment.
John Camarao, grievance chair for the United Steelworkers in New Bedford, said the strike is about more than health care. It started over the hiring of outside contractors, he said.
“They're on a mission to eliminate the union,” he said.
Company spokeswoman Natalie Gillespie said Allegheny will continue paying what it pays now for health care — and more — but workers will have to help with the cost of health care to ensure the company’s long-term success.
She said employees under this contract earn an average of $85,000 year.