United Steel Workers Local 8782 and U.S. Steel Canada are back at the negotiating table, eight months after workers were locked out.
Local 8782 president Bill Ferguson confirmed the union is in talks with the company.
"I can't say too much at this time, of course," he said, confirming a statement on the local's website that the union is "optimistic" about a deal.
"We are really trying to get at this," he added.
The short note on the website yesterday indicated bargaining committee members are "currently engaged with the company and are optimistic in reaching an agreement."
The union advises members to check the website (uswa8782.com) for updates.
The workers were locked out by the company in August and have been picketing the front gate since then.
Blaming the recession, U.S. Steel idled its Lake Erie Works plant in March 2009 and laid off about 800 workers. About 200 workers who remained were locked out Aug. 3 over a contract dispute involving the company pension plan.
U.S. Steel is demanding the defined benefit (DB) pension plan be turned into a defined contribution (DC) model.
DB plans guarantee retirees a certain amount, usually based on length of service.
DC plans, like a registered retirement savings plan, pay a pension based on how much has been contributed.
The federal government is suing U.S. Steel under the Investment Canada Act.
It alleges U.S. Steel broke production and employment promises made when it acquired Stelco in 2007.