Workers ratify Alcoa contract

Following a day of voting on Thursday, members of the United Steelworkers voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new four-year master contract with Alcoa. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

MASSENA — Following a day of voting on Thursday, members of the United Steelworkers voted overwhelmingly to ratify a new four-year master contract with Alcoa.

Local results were not immediately available Thursday evening.

The agreement covers about 357 Local 420-A employees in Massena, and about 1,600 production and maintenance workers at four other Alcoa facilities in the United States — Local 104 at Alcoa’s Warrick, Ind., facility; Local 5073 at Gum Springs, Ark.; Local 4370 at Point Comfort, Texas; and Local 310A in Wenatchee, Wash.

Under the master contract, members will receive annual wage increases of more than 12 percent over the term of the agreement, and maintains what United Steelworkers officials said was “high-quality, affordable health care coverage.” The new contract runs through May 15, 2023, and is the first since Alcoa split into two companies in November 2016.

Local 420-A President Mark Goodfellow said Massena’s members were upbeat as they voted at the United Steelworkers Local 420-A Union Hall on Woodlawn Avenue. The polls were open from 6 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

“They seemed upbeat. I’ve seen a lot of smiles. People are happy we made some progress,” he said.

The vote comes about three weeks after the union reached a tentative agreement with Alcoa. Negotiating committee delegates returned to their local unions to conduct membership meetings and arrange the ratification votes.

United Steelworkers officials had recommended that their membership ratify the tentative agreement, which was announced on Aug. 30.

“We brought it back to the membership. We had two meetings two Fridays ago. Everybody seemed pretty upbeat with that,” Mr. Goodfellow 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 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 union ratified a new three-year contract with Arconic on June 28, and resumed talks with Alcoa on July 17. As talks continued, workers voted to authorize the United Steelworkers bargaining committee to call a strike if necessary.

“This is a challenging time for these workers, with unfair trade and declining prices taking their toll on the U.S. aluminum industry,” United Steelworkers International President Thomas M. Conway said in a statement. “Thanks to their strength and solidarity, they were able to achieve a fair agreement, one that makes sure they can continue to care for their families and also positions the company for future success.”

“These hard-working union members contribute a tremendous amount to the company’s success, and they stood up and demanded a contract that recognized those contributions,” United Steelworkers District 7 Director Mike Millsap said in a statement.

“This agreement is a victory for the workers and for the company,” said Mr. Millsap, who served as the chair of the union’s Alcoa bargaining committee.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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