Steelworkers set to restart Alcoa talks

CHRISTOPHER LENNEY/WATERTOWN DAILY TIMESMassena Alcoa workers react as Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces on March 21 a deal that will keep the plant open for another seven years. The United Steelworkers are set to resume contract negotiations with Alcoa on July 17.

MASSENA — Just days after reaching a tentative agreement with Arconic, the United Steelworkers announced that its negotiating committee would be resuming contract talks with Alcoa later this month.

“Bargaining to resume with Alcoa on July 17. We have spoken loud and clear with our overwhelming strike authorization votes. We deserve a fair contract!” stated union officials in a message sent to members on Sunday.

Local Alcoa and Arconic employees had voted overwhelmingly on May 24 to give their negotiating committee the authority to implement a strike against Alcoa and Arconic if necessary.

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.

The United Steelworkers negotiation committee resumed negotiations with Arconic on June 24. Among the sticking points in the negotiations were the pension plan and health care benefits.

Four days later, a tentative agreement was reached between the United Steelworkers and Arconic.

“The USW and Arconic have reached a tentative agreement. While we understand this was a long and difficult process, we would like to thank the membership for their strong support and solidarity. Flyers are being distributed within the plant,” officials told members on June 28.

They said representatives would be returning home to set up informational meetings and prepare for ratification.

“The Bargaining committee will be recommending to the membership that this agreement be accepted and the details will be reviewed with our members over the coming days and weeks. This is a good outcome for our negotiations and that is due to the unity, strength and solidarity that the local union leadership and our members and Contract Action Teams have built and demonstrated over the past months in bringing Arconic to the right place,” officials told their members.

Meanwhile, at the Aluminerie de Becancour aluminum smelter in Quebec, union workers who have been locked out for 18 months are scheduled to meet Tuesday to consider and vote on a final offer made by Alcoa, which expires on Friday. Alcoa officials said last week that, if the proposal is not signed, the already-curtailed production will be totally suspended.

The last strike at Alcoa was in 1986. United Steelworkers were set to strike again in 2010 as they awaited word of a last-minute contract with Alcoa. However, that never took place, as members across the country voted on June 24, 2010, to accept a four-year labor contract with Alcoa Inc.

Since then, Alcoa Inc. split into two publicly traded companies — Alcoa Corp. and Arconic — meaning separate contract negotiations for the two companies.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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