Steelworkers, Alcoa reach tentative accord

United Steelworkers officials announced Friday morning that they had reached a tentative agreement on a new contract with Alcoa. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — Just days before Labor Day, United Steelworkers had good news for its members — the union had reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract with Alcoa.

“Your solidarity has paid off — we have reached a tentative agreement with Alcoa! This agreement makes significant gains while defending what we have now. Details of the tentative agreement are being assembled and will be distributed later for your review, ahead of ratification votes,” United Steelworkers officials said in a Friday morning message to members.

In a news release issued Friday afternoon, Alcoa officials said the agreement impacts about 1,700 active employees at five U.S. locations — Massena, Warrick Operations in Indiana, Gum Springs in Arkansas, Wenatchee Works in Washington and Point Comfort in Texas.

Most of the union members eligible to vote on the proposed Master Agreement are employed at Warrick Operations, where the union represents employees at the aluminum smelter and rolling mill, and at the Massena Operations smelter. The Point Comfort alumina refinery and the Wenatchee Works aluminum smelter are both fully curtailed.

Union officials had returned to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to analyze and discuss Alcoa’s latest proposal after the United Steelworkers rejected the previous contract offer.

“Our USW bargaining committee will travel to Pittsburgh next Wednesday to analyze and discuss Alcoa’s proposal and look at all of our options. Solidarity!” the union said in a message to members last week.

United Steelworkers officials rejected the last contract offer from Alcoa on Aug. 14, saying it didn’t meet their needs.

“We received a second ‘final’ offer from the company which was short of what we need for retirement security and health care. The bargaining committee unanimously rejected the offer and are providing Alcoa with a counter. Continue to stay strong!” union officials said in a message to their members after rejecting the proposal.

Alcoa officials said at the time that they were continuing to work with the union to come up with a new contract.

“The contract that would have expired on May 15 was extended indefinitely so parties could work toward an agreement. We’ve been working toward that goal. The process continues. The parties are making progress,” spokesman Jim Beck said.

The approximately 357 Alcoa employees and about 132 Arconic employees in Massena have continued working under the terms and conditions of a contract that expired on May 15. Negotiations broke off hours before the contracts were set to expire, and the negotiating committee, Alcoa and Arconic agreed to extend the contracts while negotiations proceeded, subject to termination with written notice by either party.

After the union ratified a new three-year contract with Arconic on June 28, members began negotiations with Alcoa. Those talks resumed on July 17.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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