Union: Meeting between United Steelworkers and Nippon goes nowhere

The union sent a letter to the U.S. Senate, urging it to oppose a merger with the Japanese company

No progress was made in a high-stakes meeting Thursday between executives from the United Steelworkers and Nippon Steel, according to the union. The meeting was an effort by Nippon Steel to gain the support of union leadership for the Japanese company’s planned acquisition of U.S. Steel for about $15 billion. 

"I’m going to try to stop the deal," said David McCall, president of the United Steelworkers. "It’s not good for our members. It’s not good for our country." 

"Nippon Steel has deep respect for the unionized employees at U.S. Steel," a Nippon Steel spokesperson said in a statement. "We look forward to continuing these conversations with the [union]."

Last week, the union sent a letter to all 100 U.S. senators, urging opposition and scrutiny of the proposed merger. 


US Capitol building

The U.S. Capitol June 5, 2003, in Washington, D.C. (Stefan Zaklin/Getty Images / Getty Images)

"American jobs are at stake, and failure to protect one of our core domestic industries presents opportunities for foreign competitors and countries, like China, to undermine our economic and national security," McCall wrote. 

The union is "actively engaged" with the U.S. Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States with concerns about the merger, the letter to lawmakers states. It urges lawmaker support of the union’s efforts to stop the deal. 

The Treasury department declined to comment. 

The union’s primary concern is job security. Nippon would not be bound by the union’s collective bargaining agreement with U.S. Steel, McCall said.

"[W]e provided the [union] with specific commitments, which we believe address each of the union’s concerns that have been raised in our working sessions to date, including job security, capital investment and technology sharing," the Nippon spokesperson said. 

Nippon’s executives have promised they would honor the union’s collective bargaining agreement, would not cut jobs or close plants and keep the U.S. Steel name and headquarters in Pittsburgh. 

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifies on Capitol Hill

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen testifying before the House Committee on Financial Services in Washington, D.C., Feb. 6, 2024. (Aaron Schwartz/NurPhoto via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Still, union leadership remains concerned.

"At this point, they’re a completely unqualified successor under our labor agreement," said McCall. 


A spokesperson for U.S. Steel said in a statement the company was pleased a Nippon executive "spent time getting to know many of our stakeholders in Pittsburgh." 

"In partnership with Nippon Steel, U.S. Steel looks forward to another 120-plus years of steel making in Pittsburgh," the spokesperson said.


Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. and U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman speaks alongside his wife Gisele Fetterman and children during his 2022 U.S. midterm election night party in Pittsburgh Nov. 9, 2022. (Reuters/Quinn Gablicki / Reuters Photos)

The proposed acquisition by a foreign company sparked outcry across the political spectrum when first announced in December. Democratic Sen. John Fetterman of Pennsylvania vowed to block the "outrageous" merger. And former President Trump said he too would stop the deal.  

President Biden has not publicly commented on the sale of U.S. Steel, though top White House aides said in December the acquisition merits "serious scrutiny."

"President Biden is the most pro-union president that we’ve ever had," McCall said in his interview with FOX Business, adding he is confident Biden will stop the merger.


"We haven’t made an endorsement yet. We’ll do it in the near future," McCall added.

McCall says the union will pursue its grievances, including arbitration, and will reach out to the administration about concerns.