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Published: Saturday, 2/14/2009

Laid-off workers to get profit shares


Union workers at U.S. Steel Corp. will give up about $120 of their fourth-quarter profit-sharing payment, distributing the money to more than 4,000 of their colleagues who were laid off because of dismal conditions in the industry.

The gesture means the laid-off workers will get payments equal to what they would have received had they been on the job for the entire quarter, said Tom Conway, a vice president of the United Steelworkers who heads the union's bargaining committee in negotiations with U.S. Steel.

Mr. Conway proposed the plan and said it was supported by presidents of union locals at U.S. Steel plants.

"We think it's the right thing to do," he said.

U.S. Steel laid off 675 union workers at plants in the United States and Canada in mid-November, then laid off 3,500 more union workers three weeks later, when it idled steel plants near Detroit and St. Louis and an iron-ore plant in Minnesota.

Many of the union workers who lost their jobs don't qualify for supplemental unemployment benefits because they have not been on the job for at least three years, Mr. Conway said.

The extra money "can help with their mortgage, rent, or other daily living expenses during these difficult economic times," he wrote in an e-mail Tuesday sent out to local presidents and other United Steel Workers officials.

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