Update: Union Workers at Alcan Accept Contract

By: Brenna Slavens, Cathleen Moxley, Leslie Barrett, Erin Pulsanti, Todd Baucher Email
By: Brenna Slavens, Cathleen Moxley, Leslie Barrett, Erin Pulsanti, Todd Baucher Email

Updated: 7/24/2010 3:10 p.m.

United Steelworkers released the following statement on their website regarding the recent Alcan contract vote:

Members of United Steelworkers Local 5668 ratified a new two-year labor agreement covering some 700 employees at Alcan Aluminum in Ravenswood in secret ballot voting conducted during the last two days. The margin of approval was 419 to 212.

The agreement preserves the existing medical insurance plan, provides hourly wage increases of 35 cents the first year and an additional 35 cents in the second year, plus makes improvements in the pension plan.

A Labor/ Management committee will be established to oversee workplace improvements while protecting union members from layoffs related to workplace reorganizations.

Two previous contract proposals had been rejected by the membership because of concern for job losses in restructuring the plant.

Local 5668 President Jason Miller said this proposal was ratified when the bargaining committee came back with contract language that offered job security that was not in earlier offers.

“Our membership and the people in this community have experienced a hemorrhaging of jobs resulting from cutbacks in production and unfair trade,” Miller said. “The two previous contract rejections were a fight to save what jobs are left.

“The solidarity shown by our membership was phenomenal,” Miller said. “Without their support, we would have been less certain to secure our jobs.”

The labor agreement is retroactive to June 1 and expires July 15, 2012
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Updated 7/24/2010 2:35 p.m.

Gov. Joe Manchin released the following statement regarding Alcan’s most recent vote Saturday:

“I am so pleased to hear that both sides have come together and reached an agreement on a new contract.

“All along, my primary concern has been for the employees at Alcan and their families. These highly-skilled, good paying jobs not only provide benefits and keep food on the table, but also support this region’s economy. Without this agreement, subsequent results would have had damaging affects on West Virginia and the Jackson County area.

“Alcan is a good, safe place to work and an industry leader that is vital to our community, this region and our state.

“We know that there is still more work to be done, but I truly feel this vote is a step in the right direction in securing the community’s future economic growth and the plant’s ongoing productivity and long-term success.

“This economy is very challenging, but West Virginia remains a good place to do business. And if we continue to work together, we can ensure a prosperous future.”
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Updated: 7/24/2010 10:10 a.m.

Alcan has released the following statement regarding the accepted contract with Fort Unity Local 5668:

Alcan Global Aerospace Transportation and Industry (Alcan Global ATI), part of Alcan Engineered Products - a business unit of Rio Tinto - announced today that employees represented by United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5668 at its aluminum rolling mill in Ravenswood, West Virginia, have ratified a new two-year agreement. The Company continued to operate throughout the negotiations and contract extensions, and looks forward to implementing the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

"I am very pleased with the outcome of the ratification vote. It is a clear demonstration that all parties are determined to work together in a constructive way to shape the future of the Ravenswood plant. This new agreement balances the interest of the employees and the necessary competitive improvements in a challenging economic environment" said Christophe Villemin, Alcan Global ATI President.
Despite the plant's difficult financial situation for the last few years, the new agreement preserves employees' health care coverage, and provides for a higher contribution to the employees' pension plan over the new agreement's period.

Key contract changes will make the plant more efficient through work reorganization with an even greater emphasis on safety, reliability and quality.

"It's now time for Ravenswood to re-focus on business and operational excellence, thus securing the plant's position in the marketplace as a preferred supplier of aluminum products for Aerospace and Defense as well as other important markets", concluded Christophe Villemin.
The new two-year contract covers 700 unionized hourly employees at the Ravenswood facility.
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Updated: 7/24/2010 9 a.m.

The third time was the charm for union workers and Alcan Rolled Products.

According to the United Steel Workers Union Local 5668 website, the union has voted to accept the company's third contract proposal.

419 voted for the contract,with 212 voting against it.

Stay tuned to WTAP-TV and WTAP.COM for more details on this story.

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Updated: 7/22/2010 9 p.m.

Alcan union workers are voting on the third contract offer from the company.

Last week, Alcan Rolled Products officials and union members reached a tentative agreement after bargaining into the early morning hours.

The agreement calls for an improvement in wages and pensions while also preserving the existing medical insurance.

It also establishes a labor-management committee that will work together to make improvements in the workplace while protecting union members from layoffs.

According to the union's web site, voting began Thursday and will continue Friday.

Union workers rejected the last two offers and issued a strike notice that was later rescinded after the company offered to continue negotiations.
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Updated: 7/16/2010 @ 12:39 p.m.

After bargaining into the wee hours of the morning...Alcan Rolled Products officials and union members have come to a tentative agreement.

The agreement calls for an improvement in wages and pensions while also preserving the existing medical insurance.

It also 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.

The contract will be presented to the membership at informational meetings on Wednesday.

A secret ballot ratification vote will take place next Thursday and Friday.

Updated: 07/13/2010 04:15pm

Once again...it's down to the wire for negotiations between Alcan Rolled Products and the United Steelworkers Union.

Those talks were in progress Thursday afternoon...with the latest extension of the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire just before 11 PM.

Members of Steelworkers local 56-68 voted down the company's latest offer last weekend.

A strike notice issued afterward was rescinded Monday...when Alcan offered to continue negotiations.

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Updated: 07/13/2010 04:00pm

Ravenswood, W.Va. (AP) -- Alcan Rolled Products says it's restarting negotiations with union workers after narrowly avoiding a strike at its Ravenswood aluminum plant.

The Rio Tinto subsidiary says talks with United Steelworkers Local 5668 are scheduled for Wednesday.

The union had planned to strike Tuesday morning, but changed its mind Monday after Alcan said it would be willing to continue negotiations.

Alcan says both sides have agreed to extend the terms of the expired contract until Thursday evening.

Alcan had begun an orderly shutdown of the mill, which produces aluminum plate and other products, threatening 1,000 jobs at the largest employer in Jackson County.

The county lost more than 600 jobs when Century Aluminum shuttered its Ravenswood smelter last year.

(Copyright 2010 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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Update: 07/12/2010 1:05pm

Union leaders have rescinded a strike notice for members of Local 5668 at Alcan Rolled Products.

In a letter to the rest of the union, all members are being told to report to work on their regular schedule until further notice.

No other details are being released at this time.

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Updated: 7/11/2010 9 p.m.

Alcan Rolled Products in Ravenswood has announced that faced with a strike, the company has begun an orderly shutdown of operations.

This comes a day after United Steelworkers Union Local 5668 announced union workers rejected the company's latest contract offer and announced a 72 hour strike notice.

In a statement Sunday, an Alcan representative said the company has begun an orderly shutdown of operations and is awaiting a request from the union to meet and discuss a possible resolution of the remaining issues.

Saturday the union said they were giving the company an opportunity for an orderly shutdown or an opportunity to return to the bargaining table to address the membership concerns over job security and other issues.

The company said it has consistently told the union that operational improvements must be made in order to compete in the global aluminum market.

Alcan said the local union has placed in jeopardy the future of the plant and the 1,000 jobs that it offers along with a $10 million loan the state of West Virginia was planning to make.

According to the statement, "The Company said that it would make no further investments in the plant until after a new agreement is reached and operational improvements are initiated."

According to Alcan, the terms and conditions of the recently expired Collective Bargaining Agreement will remain in effect until the time and date of the Union strike which is set to begin at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

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Update 7/11/2010 4:31 p.m.

Local businesses are concerned over the Alcan/Union dispute and the effect it may have on the community at large.

"It's another loss of revenue and really a loss of communtiy spirit," says Bob Grimmett the General Manager of the Robert Mason Company and Chamber of Commerce member. "As far as the Chamber's Concerned we're just sitting here hoping that both sides can come up with workable agreements. Because we have friends on both sides of the issue, and so naturally we want the best for both sides."

The Asscoiated Press reports Alcan is Jackson County's largets employer with 1,000 paid positions. Roughly 700 employees of the comapny belong to the Union.
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Updated:07/10/2010 6:25 p.m.

Community members in Jackson County are speaking out about the recent Alcan vote.

"As far as I'm concerned it's a mistake," says William Anderson, the owner of B&E Furniture. "I don't know the particulars of the contract, so I can't say too much, but I think it's going to be hard on the community."

Some are even recalling a similar situation in the 90's and finding the circumstances of Saturday's vote scarily familiar.

"I lived through the previous lockout they had in the early 90's and it did damage to the city at that time," says former Ravenswood business owner Jerry Carpenter. "If they end up with that plant being closed, it will devastate this entire area."
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Updated: 07/10/2010 3:46 p.m.

West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin has released the following statement regarding the Alcan vote:

“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.

“West Virginians deserve to have quality, secure jobs and the opportunity to work. In this current global economic downturn, we are forced to fight harder each day to keep and create good jobs.

"Alcan is an industry leader and West Virginia cannot afford to lose this company.

“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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Updated: 07/10/2010 2:42 p.m.

Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 5668 who work at Alcan Rolled Products in Ravenswood have rejected the tentative agreement between the company and the union during a vote that took place at the plant gate on Thursday and Friday.

According to a statement from the USW Local 5668, 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,” said Eli Morris, Local 5668 grievance chairman in the statement.

“The company has done a good job in its media relations and leading the public to believe that there will be no threats to the job security of our membership,” he 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.”

“We have to take this stand for the future of our membership and for all those in the community who want an opportunity to work in the plant in the years ahead,” Morris concluded.

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Updated: 07/10/2010 09:45am

Rockefeller Statenent On Yesterday’s Alcan Vote

“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.”

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Updated: 07/10/2010 9:00am

Union workers at Alcan Rolled Products in Ravenswood have voted down the latest contract proposal.

According to the union's website the vote was 397 against and only 251 in favor.

No other information is being given.

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Updated 7/08/2010 6 p.m.

If the latest offer from Alcan Rolled Rroducts in Ravenswood is not ratified by union members workers plan to go on strike.

Voting on the offer was scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Thursday and continue Friday.

An Alcan-Ravenswood representative said if union workers ratify the final offer it will go into effect, but if it's rejected union workers would immediately go on strike.

Some community leaders say Alcan which is the largest employer in Jackson County is vital.

Wes Harvey, program director of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce said "So it's not only vital to Jackson County but it's also vital to West Virginia and right now we are optimistic that the collective bargaining agreement will be given the thumbs up by the union once the votes are counted."

According to the Associated Press, the Charleston Daily Mail reports union leaders sent letters to workers this week encouraging them to ratify the proposed contract. The letter cited the slumping aluminum market saying "there are times to pick fights and a time to avoid them."

This latest offer the company says provides higher pay, better pension benefits, and preserves free-to-employee health insurance.

A representative says the proposal includes complete protection from layoffs in the new work reorganization language which would establish operational improvements however some workers say their concerned about indirect layoffs.

Workers rejected an offer from the company last month.

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Updated: 7/07/2010 8 p.m.

Union workers were discussing Alcan Rolled Products' final contract offer in Ravenswood Wednesday.

Members of United Steelworkers Local 5668 are scheduled to vote on the proposal Thursday and Friday.

Some workers tell WTAP the contract is almost identical to the last offer.

The company has said that this offer has complete lay off protection with regards to the new work reorganization initiative and contracting out provisions but some workers say they're concerned about layoffs down the road.

Tony Mattox, an Alcan laborer and union member, said "But it also says there will be layoffs, work reduction through attrition, and there will eventually be layoffs but they won't be directly related to that and if the numbers are correct I'm laid off there's no doubt about it."

Mattox says there's also a concern that any job could be contracted out under that proposal.

Union leaders had no comment. Alcan representatives have said this final contract offer includes wage and pension increases as well as preservation of a free-to-employee health insurance plan.

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Updated: 6/17/2010 7 p.m.

After weeks of negotiations Alcan union workers and the company still do not have an agreement on a new contract but they have been meeting to discuss why the proposal failed last week.

In a statement Alcan Rolled Products said the proposal gives a raise in the hourly wage each year of the two year agreement, protects health insurance, and increases employee pension benefits.

The company wanted to clarify what it means by work reorganization.

According to the statement a joint committee of union and company officials will work to improve the manufacturing process and no one will be laid off as a result of it.

Alcan said the company has to become more efficient in order to compete in the global market and that's why work reorganization is needed.

Last week union leaders said they believed this provision could lead to more layoffs. The current contract expires June 30.

Another meeting is scheduled near the end of the month.
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Updated: 6/15/2010 11:49am

Alcan Rolled Products and the Steelworkers Union 5668 have agreed to extend the existing contract to continue negotiating a new contract.

The extension runs until June 30th at 11:59p.m.

Statement from Alcan spokesperson Morrie Newell.

"Alcan Ravenswood has a reached an agreement with the Untied Steelworkers Local 5668 to extend the current collective bargaining agreement until Wednesday June 30 at 11:59 p.m.

This further extension of the current collective bargaining agreement will provide adequate time for the two parties to arrive at a mutually beneficial new collective bargaining agreement.

A new agreement that makes Alcan Ravenswood more cost effective is critical to becoming the preferred supplier in the aluminum supplier industry."

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Updated: 06/15/2010 09:42am

Sen. Rockefeller statement on the continued fight for Alcan workers.

“It is my hope that a quick agreement can be reached on a contract – one that is good for the workers, the company, and West Virginia. I will continue to fight for Alcan workers and it is my hope that Alcan will make an ongoing commitment to West Virginia and jobs in our state, so these skilled men and women can come to work every day in this community for years to come. I will always work to protect West Virginia jobs and our economy and I am exploring additional legislative options to help create more opportunities for the future.”

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After more than six weeks of negotiations, union workers have made it clear they don't want the latest contract proposal from a local aluminum plant.

United Steelworkers Union employees at Alcan Rolled Products -- Ravenswood LLC have turned down the contract by nearly 450 votes.

In a statement Alcan said "Despite the company's difficult financial results for the last few years the final offer preserves the best health care coverage in the manufacturing sector and gives both a yearly increase in hourly compensation and in increased contribution to the employee's pension plan in each year of the proposed two years of the agreement."

The Associated Press reports union leaders believe the work reorganization provision could lead to more layoffs.

It was reported that Union president Jason Miller said "with this contract that was proposed it would cut more jobs.
With the vote like it is I would hope they would want to go back to the bargaining table."

Meanwhile an Alcan spokesperson issued a statement that "The company proposed a joint labor/ management committee with help from a third party facilitator that will identify and implement important operational improvements. It has been suggested that those operational improvements would automatically translate into job losses but they don't. The cornerstone of the joint initiatives would be increased training and utilization of skilled employees."

The union and the company agreed to continue production under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement until further notice.

The current contract expires Monday.

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Updated: 06/12/2010 3:24 p.m.

A spokesman for Alcan Rolled Products -- Ravenswood LLC has released the following statement about union workers rejecting the latest proposed contract:

"After more than six weeks of negotiations and two contract extensions the United Steelworkers Union Local 5668 voted to turn down the final offer for a new collective bargaining agreement made by Alcan Rolled Products -- Ravenswood LLC. The union and the company agreed to continue production under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement until further notice.

Despite the company's difficult financial results for the last few years the final offer preserves the best health care coverage in the manufacturing sector and gives both a yearly increase in hourly compensation and in increased contribution to the employee's pension plan in each year of the proposed two years of the agreement. The company proposed that the parties form a joint labor/management committee with help from a third party facilitator that will identify and implement important operational improvements that will make Alcan Ravenswood more productive. It has been suggested that those operational improvements would automatically translate into job losses but they do not. The cornerstone of the joint initiatives would be increased training and utilization of our skilled employees and an improved cooperative working environment.

The company believes it's crucial for Alcan Ravenswood to stay focused on business and operational excellence thus securing its position in the marketplace as a preferred supplier of aluminum products."

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Updated: 06/12/2010 9:15am

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller releases statement on Alcan contract vote.

“Alcan’s union workers have voted and they made the decision they felt was best for their families at this time. I sincerely hope both sides can return to the bargaining table and reach a deal that can keep these hard-working men and women on the job and the plant operational for years to come. I have been in touch with Alcan officials and with the union, and have encouraged all parties to work together to keep this relationship going. We all know how much the company and these jobs mean to Jackson County – they keep the community running and keep the families strong. I have been proud to have stood by Jackson County’s dedicated, highly-skilled workers for decades and will always continue to do so.”

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Updated: 06/12/2010 7:00am

Union workers at Alcan Rolled Products in Ravenswood voted against the company's latest contract proposal.

According to the Steel Workers Local 5668 website, the contract was defeated 548 to 105.

There are more than 700 union worker at the Jackson County facility. And approximately 1,000 total workers.

Union workers are currently working under an extended contract which expires Monday.

Last year, Alcan laid off 168 workers.

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The final hours are winding down for union workers of a local aluminum plant to vote on whether or not to approve a new contract.

United Steelworker members employed at Alcan Ravenswood have until 12 a.m. Saturday to cast their ballots.

The employees are currently working under an extended contract while waiting for a new one to take effect.

The union's president says there's concern about portions of the proposed contract.

"We're looking for a better quality of life for our members, and the stance that the company's taking with their workforce reorganization and their contracting out language is gonna be detrimental to our membership," Jason Miller, USWA Local 5668 president, said.

In a statement released by Alcan, a spokesperson describes the offer as "a mutually beneficial agreement that balances the job and security needs of Ravenswood employees with the company's need to become more efficient in the highly competitive global aluminum industry."

If the contract is approved, it will go into effect Monday when the extended one expires.

If not, the union hopes to go back to the bargaining table.


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