Steelworkers ratify contract with Arconic

CHRISTOPHER LENNEY/WATERTOWN DAILY TIMESThe United Steelworkers have ratified a new three-year master contract with Arconic following a day of voting on Thursday.

MASSENA — Both sides say they’re happy now that the United Steelworkers have ratified a new three-year master contract with Arconic following a day of voting on Thursday.

“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.

“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. Mr. Conway chairs the union committee.

Voting was held locally from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the results were announced at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

“The membership has ratified a three-year contract at Arconic!!!” read a Facebook message posted on the United Steelworkers Local 420-A Facebook page.

According to a news release from the United Steelworkers, 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.”

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.

Mr. Conway said the negotiations between the United Steelworkers and Arconic “ended in a completely different tone than they began — with the company demanding major economic and non-economic concessions that the union considered excessive and unnecessary.”

The new contract covers more than 3,000 hourly workers at the company’s facilities in Massena, Alcoa, Tenn., and Lafayette, Ind. About 132 Arconic employees are impacted locally.

Local Alcoa and Arconic employees had voted overwhelmingly on May 24 to give their negotiating committee the authority to implement a strike against Arconic and Alcoa, if necessary. The Arconic employees and approximately 357 Alcoa employees in Massena continued working under the terms and conditions of a contract that expired on May 15.

“The strength of our union depends on the solidarity of the members. When called upon, they stood together and demanded from management nothing less than the fair contracts that USW members have earned and deserve,” Mr. Conway said.

He said the strike authorization granted by members of local unions participating in the negotiations was “a turning point for bargaining” and credited local union leaders, volunteer activists and the United Steelworkers’ negotiating committee’s “hard work for resolving issues with management without a labor dispute and without unfairly burdening new hires or retirees.”

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.

Negotiations with Arconic resumed on June 24, and the United Steelworkers announced that they had reached a tentative agreement with Arconic on June 28.

Members of the negotiating committee reviewed the details of the agreement with union members after returning to their home locations and recommended that the membership accept the agreement.

“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,” they told members.

Now the focus is on negotiating a new contract with Alcoa. Bargaining sessions between the United Steelworkers and Alcoa are set to resume Wednesday in Pittsburgh.

Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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