Union, Alcoa taking hiatus

Massena Alcoa workers react as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announces a deal that will keep the plant open for another seven years. The United Steelworkers and Alcoa resumed contract negotiations on July 17, but they are taking a temporary hiatus so Alcoa can analyze the union’s proposals. CHRISTOPHER LENNEY/WATERTOWN DAILY TIMES

MASSENA — Negotiations between the United Steelworkers and Alcoa are taking a temporary hiatus.

“After a long day of exchanging proposals, Alcoa informed us tonight (July 19) that they need additional time to analyze and cost some of our proposals. We are taking a break and the Committee is returning to the plants to wait for Alcoa’s response. We are still working under the contract extension,” union officials said in a message to their members.

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 announced on June 28 that they had reached a tentative agreement with Arconic, after resuming negotiations on June 24. Members ratified the new three-year master contract with Arconic following a day of voting on July 11.

“We are pleased that our USW represented employees at Arconic’s master contract locations ratified the three-year agreement on July 11. The new collective bargaining agreement covers about 3,400 employees and runs through May 15, 2022,” Arconic officials said in an emailed statement after the news was announced.

“This is a great outcome not only for our members at Arconic, but also for workers throughout the aluminum industry and as well for the employer and its customers,” United Steelworkers International Vice President Tom Conway said in a statement. Conway chairs the union committee.

The new contract provides annual general wage increases of 3.5 percent each year, which is applicable to all union members, and results in a “10.5% improvement during its term,” according to a news release from the United Steelworkers.

It also maintains or improves existing benefits, such as supplemental unemployment and health care and retirement provisions for currently active employees. There is also a $1,750 ratification bonus.

The new contract covers more than 3,000 hourly workers at the company’s facilities in Massena, Alcoa, Tenn., and Lafayette, Ind.

Once the contract with Arconic was ratified, union officials turned their focus to Alcoa. Negotiations between the United Steelworkers and Alcoa resumed on July 17 in Pittsburgh.

This was the first time negotiations were held separately with Arconic and Alcoa since Alcoa Inc. split into two publicly traded companies — Alcoa Corp. and Arconic.

The gist of it

n WHAT: Negotiations between the United Steelworkers and Alcoa are taking a temporary hiatus

n WHY: Union officials said Alcoa needed additional time “to analyze and cost some of our proposals”

n WHEN: Negotiations between the United Steelworkers and Alcoa had resumed on July 17 in Pittsburgh

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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