MASSENA — United Steelworkers officials say there’s “still a long way to go in bargaining” with Arconic, and strike votes are scheduled at all sites this week.
“Your vote will help us achieve our goals and win a fair contract!” union officials said in a message to members.
Locally, United Steelworkers Local 420-A members will hold a strike authorization vote from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday at the union hall on Woodlawn Avenue in Massena. They will also take part in a ”fair contract rally” at 2 p.m. Friday at the No. 1 clockhouse.
“We want Arconic to hear us loud and clear, that concessions are not going to happen,” officials said. “Remember, success comes with participation.”
Local 420-A President Mark A. Goodfellow said the union is still having difficulty getting information from Arconic.
“As we end the second week of negotiations in Pittsburgh, our union continues to fight for a fair contract for our members. To prepare for these negotiations, all of the USW bargaining committee members from all four locals have been meeting via Zoom the last several months to craft our contract language, benefits and health/safety proposals. We took our jobs to prepare for this contract seriously,” he said.
“Meanwhile, Arconic has come to the table without their proposals, which has slowed the bargaining efforts down, and they’ve also failed to give us some of the information we requested over two months ago so that we can fairly analyze any proposed changes,” Mr. Goodfellow said.
For example, he said, “We believe health and safety issues are very important to protect our members at work, and Arconic has been very slow to address our issues.”
“After much hard work, we’ve made significant progress on our language. However, we believe we need more protections around our right to stop unsafe work without retaliation, and we will continue to push this issue,” presidents of Locals 420-A, 105, 115 and 309 told members in a message on Monday.
They said that time is running out. United Steelworkers and Arconic began contract negotiations on April 26. The three-year contract that was approved in 2019 expires at noon May 15.
“We’re now 6 days before contract expiration. While we’ve made some progress, there’s still a long way to go,” they wrote.
At the benefits table, they said Arconic is “more profitable than ever,” but is proposing to double premiums and increase deductibles and copays, while also rejecting proposals on pension and retirement.
“We’ve made progress on some small language issues like interplant transfer, rights due to layoff and wage adjustments moving to arbitration, but our proposals on vacations, MLK holiday, shift premiums and forced overtime all remain unanswered,” the union presidents said. “Our intention when we came to bargaining was to work hard to achieve a fair contract for all of us Essential Workers. This is still our goal, but Arconic needs to get moving in the right direction, and fast!”
Arconic officials have said they are committed to reaching a fair agreement while allowing the business to grow.
“Arconic is committed to reach an agreement that is fair to our employees and allows our business to grow for the benefit of our employees, customers and the communities where we operate. Part of the process is responding to questions and providing the USW with relevant requested information in a reasonable amount of time. Arconic will continue to do so in good faith throughout the negotiations,” they said in an email.
The current contract provided annual general wage increases of 3.5% each year, which was applicable to all union members. It also maintained or improved existing benefits, such as supplemental unemployment and health care and retirement provisions for active employees. There was also a $1,750 ratification bonus.
The contract covered more than 3,000 hourly workers at the company’s facilities in Massena; Alcoa, Tennessee; and Lafayette, Indiana. About 132 Arconic employees were impacted locally at the time of the signing.
There are about 100 USW members who work at two other Arconic locations in the United States that bargain their contracts separately and have different expiration dates.