UPDATE: Alcan Workers Accept Their New Contract

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 7/24/10 @ 7:00 a.m.
JACKSON COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ)-Union workers at Alcan Rolled Products have a new contract. They voted to accept their new contract.

According to their union website, 419 workers voted for the new contract and 212 voted against it. Voting began Thursday and ended overnight Friday.

This was the third time union workers voted on a proposed contract.The second offer by the company almost led to a strike!

Alcan says this latest contract offer includes wage and benefit improvements, along with guarantees against layoffs related to a job re-organization plan.

RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Union members at a local plant will vote yet again Thursday on the latest contract proposal from the company.

This is the third time union members at Alcan Rolled Products in Ravenswood will take vote on a contract agreement.

The company says the contract contains the same wage and pension increases and guarantees against layoffs related to a reorganization provision.

A previous deal was rejected because union members worried that they could lose their jobs under the new agreement.

Voting will wrap up on Friday.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information on the vote.

UPDATE 7/16/10 @ 11:45 a.m.
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5668 says they have reached another tentative agreement with Alcan Rolled Products.

The union says the latest tentative agreement follows a bargaining session that started Thursday morning and ended early Friday morning.

The tentative deal covers 700 union workers at the plant.

According to the union, the agreement calls for improvement in wages and pensions, and preserves the existing medical insurance.

They also say the agreement establishes a Labor/Management committee that will work together to make improvements in the workplace while protecting union members from layoffs due to workplace reorganization. However, when orders decline, layoffs will still be permitted as in the past, according to a union news release.

The contract will be presented at informational meetings on Wednesday. A secret ballot ratification vote will be conducted Thursday and Friday at the plant gate.

Local 5668 Vice President Nathan Nelson gave full credit to his membership, which voted twice to reject previous contract offers.

“This contract was only made possible with the solidarity of our membership as expressed by their willingness to go on strike if necessary to protect the jobs in this plant,” Nelson said.

“I think it’s important that the community understands that we were engaged in this struggle, not only for the people working in the plant today but for those generations who will need good, family-supporting jobs in the future,” Nelson concluded in the news release.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE: 7/13/10 @ 3:50 p.m.
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- On Tuesday the United Steel Workers Union Local 5668 approached Alcan Rolled Products to rescind the strike and resume talks.

Talks with the Union will resume on Wednesday, July 14. The two parties agreed to extend the terms of the expired Collective Bargaining Agreement until 10:59 p.m. on Thursday, July 15.

Alcan said it welcomes the decision by the Union not to strike and to return to the bargaining table.

"Each day that is lost by not working together to serve our customers and create a sustainable business is a day that cannot be regained, putting the future of the plant, its employees and the community in further jeopardy," said Alcan officials.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest on the contract negotiations.

UPDATE: 7/12/10 @ 3:25 p.m.
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (AP) -- Union workers have called off a planned strike at the Alcan Rolled Products plant in Ravenswood.

United Steelworkers Local 5668 spokesman Randy Moore says the union rescinded a strike notice Monday in response to a statement released a day earlier by Alcan. The Rio Tinto subsidiary said Sunday that it was willing to meet with the union and continue discussions.

Moore says the union is taking Alcan up on that offer and has asked the company to allow members to continue working during discussions.

"This puts undo stress on everybody," Moore said. "You have families, wives, mothers, people who get under a lot of stress from this. We'd like to put this to bed sooner than later. Our customers need some piece of mind as well."

Eli Morris, Local 5668 grievance chairman, says, "The union is preparing a comprehensive proposal that addresses our members' needs while responding to the company's concern to operate a facility that is competitive in the global market."

Alcan had started closing the aluminum plant after the local issued a 72-hour strike notice Saturday. Members of the local rejected Alcan's latest contract offer 397-251 last week.

Alcan is Jackson County's largest employer.

Statement from Gov. Joe Manchin
“I am pleased that company officials and the negotiating committee have agreed to return to the bargaining table in an attempt to negotiate a new contract that will keep the company open and ensure a future for the employees.

“As I’ve said before, West Virginia cannot afford to lose this company, especially Jackson County and the surrounding region.

“Because Alcan is an industry leader, I truly hope and strongly encourage both sides to come together for the benefit of the workers, the company, this region and our state.”

Statement from Sen. Jay Rockefeller
“I am very encouraged to hear the news that Alcan workers and the company will return to the bargaining table. Every single Alcan job matters so much to the Ravenswood community, and to these families, and to me -- it is my hope that both sides will be able to reach an agreement soon that is beneficial to both the workers and to the future of the company in Ravenswood.”

UPDATE 7/12/10 @ 12:30 p.m.
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Union officials and workers have called off the strike and will continue to work as normal until a future date is set for renegotiation.

Members of the United Steel Workers Local 5668 tell WSAZ.com that the President and other officials are in conference calls at this time with Alcan officials to decide a date for future negotiations.

WSAZ.com will be talking with the President of the local union to discuss why the strike was rescinded.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.

UPDATE 7/11/10 @ 7:10 p.m.
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- After voting down the latest contract, union workers at Alcan Rolled Products in Ravenswood gave their 72-hour strike notice to the company Saturday.

The company says they will not be going back to the negotiating table.

A statement from Alcan says as of 7 a.m. Tuesday, the union will be on strike.

The company has already begun an orderly shutdown of operations. Until the contract dispute is resolved, Alcan "will not operate the plant with anything other than bargaining unit employees."

Alcan says, "Through its negative vote, the Local Union has placed in jeopardy the future of the plant and the 1,000 jobs that it offers."

Members of the local rejected Alcan's latest contract offer 397-251 in voting Thursday and Friday.

Also in jeopardy is a $10 million loan offered by Gov. Joe Manchin.

Alcan says it's awaiting an offer to resume discussions with the union.

About 700 of the plant's 1,000 workers are represented by the union. Alcan is the largest employer in Jackson County.

This isn't the first time that the aluminum plant has seen it's workers strike, but it is the first time since the Alcan company took over.

Back in 1990, when the plant was owned by Kaiser Aluminum, 1,700 United Steelworkers went on strike for 20 months.

It was a heated battle, especially because the union workers were almost immediately replaced by new, out-of-town workers.

During the 20-month period, only 17 of the 1,700 union workers agreed to cross the picket line.

Pechiney Aluminum bought the Ravenswood plant from Kaiser in September 1999. The Alcan Corporation bought the plant from Pechiney in 2003.

UPDATE @ 2:55 p.m. Saturday
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Union workers say now that they've voted down the latest contract offer, they're ready to go back to the bargaining table with Alcan Rolled Products. However, they are also prepared to strike.

In a news release, Eli Morris, who is the Local 5668 grievance chairman, said:
"The union has issued a 72-hour strike notice beginning 7:00 a.m. today (Saturday), giving the company an opportunity for an orderly shutdown, or an opportunity to return to the bargaining table to address the membership’s concerns over job security and other issues."

“Now that the membership has spoken, we are ready to return to the bargaining table at a moment’s notice to resolve areas of the agreement that are crucial to the future of our members and the community,” Morris said.

“We’ve got a good, dedicated, experienced labor force here and we want to continue a relationship where each side respects the other,” Morris said. “We want to avoid this fight if we can but the company must understand that we will not work under the terms of the tentative contract that was rejected twice by the membership.”

At this time, the Alcan company has not publicly responded to the situation.

RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Union workers at Alcan Rolled Products have rejected the company's latest offer. According to the United Steel Workers Local 5668 website, 397 workers voted against the contract, while just 251 voted for it.

No other details are available, but workers had been concern a reorganization plan could lead to more layoffs. However, the Union said that this latest offer included more protection for the workers.

Stay with WSAZ.com for the very latest developments on this story.

Statement from Sen. Jay Rockefeller
“I regret that Alcan workers and the company were again unable to reach an agreement last night – I know how difficult this decision and process has been. I will continue to stand by the hundreds of hard-working men and women of Alcan-Ravenswood and will stay in touch with company officials and with the union as further options are considered.”

Statement from Gov. Joe Manchin
“I am extremely concerned. Alcan is an economic backbone to both Jackson County and its surrounding region, so it is very unfortunate that the workers and the company are unable to reach an agreement - especially when the leadership from the international steelworkers encouraged the passage of this contract... The men and women at Alcan made a decision last night and none of us know what tomorrow may bring for this company and for the jobs it provides. In the coming days, my administration will continue to work with both the employees and company officials to try to reach a solution.”

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