UPDATE: 4 Constellium Workers File Complaint Against Union

By: WTAP News Email
By: WTAP News Email

UPDATE: 5/10/2013

RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (AP) - Four workers at a Ravenswood aluminum plant have filed unfair labor practice charges against a union stemming from a strike last summer.

The National Right to Work Foundation said Friday the Constellium workers filed the charges with the National Labor Relations Board.

The four workers resigned their membership in the United Steelworkers Local 5668 before they continued to work during the strike.

The foundation says the workers received letters from local union officials in March threatening fines and stripping them of seniority in violation of federal law.

Union workers at the plant went on a nearly seven-week strike after the company proposed changes to health benefit plans. The strike ended Sept. 23 when union members ratified a five-year contract.

A message left with the union wasn't immediately returned Friday.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 03/01/2013

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A West Virginia panel has upheld a ruling awarding unemployment compensation benefits to Constellium workers who went on strike at its Ravenswood aluminum plant last summer.

Union workers at the plant went on a nearly seven-week strike on Aug. 5 after the company proposed changes to union members' health benefit plans.

More than 600 workers applied for unemployment compensation benefits.

Constellium had appealed a December decision by the state Labor Dispute Tribunal. The three-member tribunal said the workers could receive the benefits because there wasn't a work stoppage at the plant during the strike.

The Charleston Daily Mail reports that Workforce West Virginia spokeswoman Courtney Sisk confirmed Thursday that Constellium lost that appeal.

The strike ended Sept. 23 when United Steelworkers Local 5668 members ratified a five-year contract.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 12/17/2012 4:54 PM

They were striking for nearly 7 weeks earlier this year, and now hundreds of Constellium Rolled Products workers will get unemployment benefits.

Monday's ruling by a three-member state labor dispute tribunal says workers can receive benefits since there wasn't a work stoppage at the plant during the standoff.

The strike ended in September when United Steelworkers Local 5668 members ratified a 5-year contract. The union represents about 700 of 1,000 employees at the Jackson County plant.

The decision comes after a 2-day hearing last month by the panel. The company could appeal the panel's decision, which would send the case to Kanawha Circuit Court.
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Update 9/20/2012 6:25 P.M.

After first saying no, the leadership of the United Steelworkers Ravenswood local gave workers at Constellium what a large number of them apparently said they wanted.

"However people feel, I think we should be able to vote on a contract," Rob Plauche, Constellium Worker, said last Friday.

They voted on Wednesday-and the union had no comment other than to say the contract offered last week by Constellium passed. It's good news for a local businessman we spoke to Thursday. But he hopes it's only the beginning.

"I see it as a win-win," said Bob Grimmett, Owner, Robert Mason Stationery and Gifts. "I feel our community can get back to business, we can also get back to production, and we also want to check on getting Century ( Aluminum) going again."

Constellium's Ravenswood CEO issued a statement after Wednesday's vote, saying the company looks forward to bringing growth back to the community, and resuming the progress made earlier this year.

"We have what's called the perfect storm," Grimmett said. "We have a worldwide recession, we have the situation with the contract negotiations at Constellium, and we also have the closure of Century. So, what needs to happen for us to rebound from all of this is to be able to get Constellium back to work, then try to get Century open again, and give us a chance at participation in a worldwide recovery."

It's still an uncertain future. but there's a very quiet sigh of relief that, at least for the next few years, another local labor dispute is over.

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UPDATE: 9/19/12 8:30PM

WTAP has received several calls from wives of steelworkers saying union members have accepted Constellium's latest contract offer.

We have placed a call to Union Local 5668 President, Nathan Nelson, and have not heard back.

As soon as we get the news confirmed, we will be sure to update you.

Here are a few statements released Wednesday evening by Senator Joe Manchin and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin:

STATEMENT FROM SENATOR JOE MANCHIN:

MANCHIN STATEMENT ON CONSTELLIUM CONTRACT VOTE

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) issued the following statement about the United Steelworkers’ vote on the Constellium contract.

“So many people put in so much hard work to get Constellium’s workers back on the job for a fair wage, and I congratulate them on reaching this agreement today,” Senator Manchin said. “Over the course of these challenging negotiations, my priority has been to bring the parties together, treat everyone with respect and fairness and do our best to get our talented people back to work. I am extremely pleased today to see these West Virginians and this company come together around a fair deal. Today’s agreement means that we can keep good-paying jobs and make the company successful – which will help create more even good jobs down the road. This is truly a great day for Ravenswood, Jackson County and all of West Virginia.”

###

STATEMENT FROM GOVERNOR EARL RAY TOMBLIN:

GOVERNOR TOMBLIN ISSUES STATEMENT FOLLOWING UNION WORKERS VOTE TO RATIFY CONSTELLIUM'S CONTRACT OFFER

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin this evening issued the following statement following the vote by union workers to ratify Constellium's contract offer.

"I am extremely pleased the members voted to ratify the contract this evening. I want to thank both the company and the union for their hard work in resolving the work stoppage. This deal is extremely important to Jackson County's economy, the over 1,000 workers employed by Constellium, and the entire state of West Virginia. It will be great to see the workers back at the plant soon."

# # #

_____________________________________________________

Update 9/19/2012 6:15 P.M.

The sign outside the steelworkers union hall reads: "One Day Longer", a reference to the marathon labor dispute with Ravenswood Aluminum two decades ago. but some, including the owner of this in-town restaurant, aren't sure how many days they have left.

"My business was good before, but, just in the last couple of weeks," says Cheryl Greathouse, owner, Cozy Cupboard Restaurant. "I've noticed a big impact that's really affected me. I'm starting to count pennies. I think 30% of people from the plant live in Ravenswood, so there's been a big impact on all of us here."

Another business owner, who declined to go on camera, says the problem goes farther back, to the cutbacks which began in the 1980's, when the aluminum complex was still known as Kaiser Aluminum-and the failure of Jackson County's leaders to diversify the local economy. Indeed, much of it is still tied to Constellium, and even the closed Century Aluminum.

Greathouse says her restaurant does catering for Constellium. and others we spoke to there are related to those who, in the past, have worked for the aluminum plants.

"Somebody has somebody who works there, or knows somebody who works there or somebody who did work there," says Malori Bailes, Ravenswood Resident. "It's impacting businesses, and lots of people are suffering from it."

The city's mayor agrees that all the community's residents can do is wait for the dispute to be resolved.

"The families? It has impacted them on an individual basis," says
Michael Ihle, Mayor of Ravenswood. "They're struggling to pay the bills."

UPDATE: 8/17/2012 5:00 PM

Constellium is extending their contract offer to allow union members to vote on it this week.

In a statement released by the Ravenswood company on Monday, the offer is extended through Wednesday.

That's the day United Steelworkers Local 5668 members are voting to accept or turn down the offer.

This contract includes a 7,500 dollar bonus, two point five percent wage increases each year of the contract, and other benefits.

The company says healthcare premiums are also less than half the national average under this offer. They would equal 17 dollars and 31 cents per week for family coverage.

Union workers will vote this Wenesday by a closed ballot.
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UPDATE: 8/16/2012 08:41 PM

They will vote. Local 5668 union officials say they'll let their members vote this week on the most recent contract offer from Constellium.

Union members say they're thankful for finally getting a voice.

The striking union workers in Jackson County will decide this week whether to accept or reject the company's latest contract offer.

Union officials say members of United Steelworkers Local 5668 will vote by secret ballot on Wednesday.

Four informational meetings on the contract proposal are scheduled for Tuesday.

The announcement comes after Governor Earl Ray Tomblin and Senator Joe Manchin urged leaders to allow a vote.

We spoke to a union wife who says union officials didn't tell members about the proposed vote Wednesday.

She says in fact, most of the information they've received is from WTAP and other media outlets. Her hope is that everyone votes for this new contract and her husband can go back to work on Thursday.

"Friday when they were voting on whether to vote, not everyone knew about it. A lot of men didn't have the money to come to an informational meeting. I really hope and pray that it's more like 80-20...80 for it. There are no other jobs out there, in fact my husband last week, he's a skilled worker, and a veteran, tried to find employment and there just really isn't any employment out there."

This wife adds she believes the union is allowing the vote because of threats to hire new employees.

700 union workers have been on strike since August 5th when contract talks broke down.

Constellium made its latest contract offer on September 7th.

______________________________________________________
UPDATE: 9/15/2012 11:38 PM

A vote is planned for Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
______________________________________________________

Updated 9/15/2012 6:00 P.M.

The strike by members of United Steelworkers Local 56-68 against Constellium Rolled Products is now a month and a half old. And while the mayor of Ravenswood says it hasn't yet taken a toll on the city's economy, he adds families of the strikers may individually be feeling the pinch.

"Those families have less money to spend at our shops and our restaurants," Mayor Michael Ihle said Friday. "So it does hurt a little bit. We haven't seen a full-blown impact that would happen if the plant would close down. We've been holding together."

Mayor Ihle says that, because the union is helping members pay utility bills, there hasn't been much of an effect on Ravenswood city revenues.

Meanwhile, government officials are weighing in on the strike...

Governor Earl Ray Tomblin issued the following statement Saturday:

"I am committed to continuing to work with both parties to bring this work stoppage to a conclusion. At the end of the day, it is up to the members to determine whether to accept the current offer.

"I hope each member carefully weighs this offer and what is in the best interest of themselves and their families.

"To that end, i encourage the full membership to take an up or down vote on it.

"I hope that everyone involved understands the hardships this has caused families, and that jobs and economic security are first and foremost on everyone's minds over these next few days" end quote.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said:

"Throughout these challenging negotiations, my priority has been to bring the parties together, treat everyone with respect and fairness and do our best to get our talented people back to work."

He goes on to say a vote is the next crucial step and strongly urges union leaders to reconsider Friday's decision.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller released a statement saying the negotiations are deeply important to the workers, their families and the entire Ravenswood community.

The senator adds he thinks it's essential for all members to have an opportunity to vote up or down on the company's latest proposal and hopes an agreement can be reached soon.

______________________________________________________

Updated 9/14/2012 7:55 P.M.

Three meetings, but no change in the status of a contract offer by Constellium Rolled Products to striking United Steelworkers Union members.

Union leadership would say only that no decision was made to present the contract offer to 700 members who have been on strike against the Jackson County manufacturer since early August.

Some of the workers who attended three separate sessions said they would like the opportunity to vote on the offer, and even predicted it might be ratified.

UPDATED: 9/14/12 9:40 AM

The United Steelworkers of Local 5668 may soon have the chance to look at and vote on the latest contract offered by Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood, WV.

WTAP received a call (this morning) from a union member who wished to remain anonymous. He says the Union will hold informational meetings at 7:30 AM, 11:30 AM and 3:30 PM today at Fort Unity. He explains that union members will have the chance to cast a no confidence vote which would allow them to review and vote on the most recent contract offer from Constellium. He says it is crucial that members attend the meeting to make sure they have as many no confidence votes as possible.

Workers are in their fifth week of a strike that is centered on proposed changes to health insurance.

WTAP called and left messages for other union members including the United Steelworkers Local 5668 President Nathan Nelson. So far, those calls are unreturned.
_____________________________________________________________
UPDATE: 9/12/12 2:48 PM

They won't vote on the new contract. That's what United Steel Workers Local 5668 President, Nathan Nelson says.

Constellium presented the union with the new contract last week, and the deadline was this Friday, but Nelson says the union isn't even voting on the contract.

When asked why the union chose not to vote, Nelson said, "that's union business." He says the company has been notified.

While no further dates for possible negotiations have been set, Nelson says the union will be willing to meet with the company anytime.

_____________________________________________________
UPDATE: 09/04/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin is wading into the ongoing strike at a Jackson County aluminum mill.

The Democrat is holding a Wednesday meeting with representatives from Constellium Rolled Products and United Steelworkers Local 5668.

Constellium's Ravenswood rolling mill is Jackson County's largest employer. But its more than 1,000 workers have been on strike since Aug. 5 after contract negotiations broke down.

Tomblin said Tuesday that he hope to help the two sides resolve the impasse.

Union workers voted down a five-year contract proposal in July. Constellium has since dropped its demand that they all enroll in the company health plan. But it still seeks to require those who do sign up to start paying monthly contributions toward their health benefits and share future cost increases.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 8/30/2012

Striking steel workers vote on a union emergency medical plan starting Friday through the weekend.

President of local 56-68, Nathan Hall tells WTAP News, the union is very busy delivering strike relief money to workers.

Starting Friday the leadership will meet with members about getting insurance through the international union.
Hall says the union has had no communication with Constellium since the union counter offered the company's last contract before the strike.

Hall says this is an unfair labor practice strike. It includes the worker's healthcare package, but it also involves a disagreement about what work the company wants to sub-contract.

UPDATE: 8/28/2012

The wives of many steelworkers are worried about how and when the strike with Constellium could end, and now, they're speaking out.

"The bottom line is they would rather close the plant down than to take anything less than 100 percent health insurance." This union wife doesn't want to reveal her name. She and her family are scared the union will retaliate.

"My husband is worried that if our identities are shown that they will come to our house and injure myself or our animals. He even made the comment that he doesn't want the house burnt down, but worse than hurting us, we don't want our daughter hurt," the union wife says.

These wives are speaking out about failed contract negotiations between Constellium and United Steelworkers Local 5668.
Negotiations over health benefits that these wives believe are a decent deal.

"It wasn't a bad contract. There just isn't anybody in the United States that has 100 percent health care anymore," she says.

In Constellium's most recent contract, they offer a 7,000 dollar bonus plus pay increases, and with unemployment high on both sides of the river, some families think it's time to get back to work, before someone else does, or before the plant closes.

"At least allow the men to go back to work. It's going to benefit everyone if they do," the wife says.

Michelle, is another union wife, sympathetic to why the union is striking, but is also feeling the pinch.

"I have a child that just broke her arm accidentally by falling off her bike. I have another child with severe eczema and she needs to see an allergist. We can't do that without insurance or income," Michelle says.

She's hopeful the union and Constellium can find a solution soon.

Michelle says, "it's really scary to think about the long term financial consequences of the strike. That's the real fear factor. The family comes first, but I can understand where the union needs to look at the long term."

The union wives worry times running out for Ravenswood.

"Everybody has to be willing to bargain and give a little bit in this if you want to work. It's not only going to hurt us, it's going to hurt the community. They've already lost the tax base of Century, if they lose the tax base of Constellium there might as well not be a Jackson County, West Virginia. There just isn't that many jobs," the union wife says.

There's speculations that all union members may be able to participate in a contract vote this Friday. Calls to the union hall to confirm were not returned.

The cease of all health and life insurance starts for employees and their families this Friday at 12:01 am.

_____________________________________________________
UPDATE: 8/17/2012 5:06 PM

In a press release to WTAP, Constellium gives an update on the strike.

Ravenswood, West Virginia – (August 16, 2012) – As the strike at Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC, moves through its second week, the Company continues to operate the facility in a limited capacity. At the same time, workers and their families begin to manage without paychecks and – at month end – healthcare benefits, which currently are paid for by the Company. Employees wishing to continue health benefits will have to do so through COBRA coverage at their own expense, at $592.72 per month for single medical and dental coverage and $2,066.01 per month for family medical and dental coverage.

The Company offer that has been on the table since August 1 asks employees to begin sharing in the cost of their healthcare, but not until 2014. The offer on average also would provide employees with a net benefit of more than $23,000 over the life of the contract through a $7,000 ratification bonus, wage increases, and wage adjustments of up to $1.00 per hour. The Union negotiating committee has indicated that it will not negotiate over changes to the healthcare plan, and that it will not give the membership an opportunity to vote on any offer that contains healthcare changes. No additional negotiations sessions are scheduled.

Unfortunately, the focus over the last week has shifted to dealing with picket line misconduct, the arrest of employees engaged in picket line violence, and unsubstantiated rumors.

“We continue to hear a new rumor every day,” said Ravenswood CEO Kyle Lorentzen. “Earlier this week it was rumors about our customers and our customer contracts that simply are not true. There’s just so much bad information out there. I really hope people aren’t wasting a lot of time focusing on these issues, rather than the reality of the situation we all are in. Strikes are extremely difficult for everyone.”

“That said,” Lorentzen added, “the fact remains that we must address our runaway healthcare costs if we’re going to bring financial stability to the facility, period. We’ve put a generous offer on the table, but the Union negotiating committee has turned its back on it. The longer the Union negotiating committee refuses to face the reality of what continued increases in healthcare costs will eventually do to the future of this plant, the longer families will continue to struggle and the longer we delay the facility’s recovery.”

The Union led employees out on strike beginning August 5 and the parties have not met.

“Even though the Union has tried to suggest otherwise, there are no offers on the table that have not been responded to,” said Jerry Carter, the Company’s Vice President of Human Resources and chief negotiator. “We have made it clear to the Union negotiating committee that we must address the healthcare issue and the uncertainty facing the Company with rising healthcare costs. The Union negotiating committee just has refused to engage in the conversation. It’s that simple. This is unfortunate given that the Company’s requests are minimal compared to plans in place at the vast majority of manufacturing employers.”

During last-minute negotiations at the request of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS) on August 4, the Company presented an alternative offer to the Union negotiating committee that did not include any changes to the existing healthcare plan’s design, yet would have had employees begin making modest monthly premium contributions beginning in 2014. Those contributions would only increase in the future if overall healthcare costs went up by more than 6 percent per year. However, the Union refused to consider this alternative, as well.

# # #
______________________________________________________

UPDATE: 8/13/2012 4:18 PM

It's been a week since The United Steel Workers Local 5668 began to strike.

"I believe that they should go into the plant and go to work. That's the way I feel," says one Ravenswood resident.

Steelworkers picketing believe they're fighting for the right reasons. The city is caught in the middle.

"I understand both sides, I really do. On one hand, there's people out there that would really need the work and would work for anything. But on the flip side, they've got to look out for their families. These workers do," says Ravenswood Mayor Michael Ihle.

Those workers are striking Constellium Rolled Products for better health benefits. It's been a week since United Steel Workers Local 5668 went on strike and it's a situation that has people in Ravenswood worried, with no sign of agreement in the near future.

"There needs to be an open dialogue between union members, union leadership and the company. They need to be open with the press and the public because this is a public issue. Public support or lack of support can shift things real quickly even though the public doesn't have a vote on the contract," Mayor Ihle explains.

Since the plant is outside city limits, Mayor Ihle believes the best thing to do is keep an open mind. "We listen to people and we hear their concerns and we try to pass them along and just facilitate to all parties in this negotiation and getting this deal done."

And the concerns grow even deeper with the fear of more violence. Last week, State Police arrested two men charging them with using jack rocks to flatten semi truck tires and throwing a rock into a truck windshield injuring the driver.

"Violence doesn't do anybody any good. It hurts the victim and it hurts the perpetrator because it damages their cause. Violence is not acceptable. We don't condone that and it doesn't help anybody," says Mayor Ihle.

The best outcome for the city, Mayor Ihle says, is a quick and equal resolution.
"A deal that's too sided one way will not compensate our workers enough and a deal that's too far sided the other way will keep the company from being able to be competitive and might put those very same people at a risk for job security so it has to be mutually beneficial and it should be rather sooner than later."

Union representatives and strikers refused to go on camera. They did say they will re-visit negotiations if Constellium puts a new contract on the table.
______________________________________________________
UPDATE: 8/12/2012 4:26 PM

Its been a full week since the United Steel Workers Local 5668 began a strike at Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood.

Ravenswood Mayor Mike Ihle believes there can be a peaceful resolution.

In a statement to WTAP News the mayor says he encourages all those involved in the strike to communicate openly and work in good faith towards a beneficial deal for both the workers and the corporation.

He says," acts of violence, such as the throwing of 'jack rocks,' are shameful, disgraceful, and hurt the cause of the guilty party. Workers should understand the plant offers some of the area's highest paying jobs. Corporate officials should understand the opportunity they have with the potential reopening of partner facility Century Aluminum, all at a site conveniently located with strategic river, rail, and road access.
We can all prosper again, but only if we work together."
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UPDATE: 8-9-12 6:00PM

WV State Police are investigating an attack on a truck driver at Constellium Rolled Products.

Constellium strongly condemns Wednesday's attack on the driver.

Company officials tell us a truck driver leaving the Ravenswood facility was hurt when someone threw a brick through the truck's window.

They add that ever since the steelworker's union began its strike, Sunday, there have been several incidents involving jack rocks, punctured tires and verbal harassments to those entering and leaving the plant.

The union continues its strike for, what they consider, better health care coverage.

_________________________________________________________
UPDATE: 08/07/2012 6:05 PM

It's day three on the picket line for union workers at Constellium

About 700 members of United Steelworkers Local 5668 strike for a better health care insurance proposal from the company.

Constellium and members of United Steelworkers Local 5668 are at

The company's most recent proposal requiring employees to make monthly contributions to their healthcare benefits and share in future cost increases was rejected by a negotiations committee at the request of members in a 604 to 20 vote.

The current health care plan dates back to 1994 when union members voted to sacrifice their wages for better health coverage.

"At that point in time this membership took a decision to give up wages, and they did. They gave up large considerations to move to the current health plan that we have. That insurance we feel we have paid for," says United Steelworkers Subdistrict Director Randy Moore.

The message is loud and clear. Solidarity.

They chant it on the picket lines and its emblazoned on shirts and banners.

For them unity is their strongest weapon.

"It means we gotta hold together and fight for whats right. We gotta stand up and make sure the company doesn't take from us stuff that we already have.Tto me it's just corporate greed. They're wanting more and more for less. And all we're wanting is a fair share," says Local 5668 Member Jeff Holstein.

Union member Jeff Holstein's insurance covers him, his wife, and three children.

Holstein also has diabetes which means medical expenses are a costly part of every day life.

"I spent like a month and a half in the hospital. With insurance...with the bills being well over $15,000-$20,000. That would have devastated us under this plan," says Holstein.

He's a prime example of why these member are unwilling to budge on the issue.

Children's faces interspersed in the crowd at the union hall because it's not just members of Local 5668 that feel the financial burden of the strike, but also their families.

"I just wanted to show the kids what we're doing here and the reason we're doing it. Of course they're really inquisitive about such things and we're not going to have any money coming in at all. So I have to teach them why we're doing this so they understand why we're not going to be going on vacation this year and things like that. Because this is something we're fighting for," says Holstein.

Moore says they are ready to go back to the negotiation table when Constellium takes their needs into consideration.

But until then these families are willing to make big sacrifices in hopes of even bigger results.

Moore says he's been in constant contact with Governor Earl Ray Tomblin who's communicating with both sides.

A representative from Senator Jay Rockefeller's office was at the press conference today.

The Senator released a statement saying "I continue to be in close contact with Constellium and the union and I'm hopeful a deal can be reached. I'm calling on both sides to keep the lines of communication open so that folks can get back to work as soon as possible under a deal that is fair to everyone and protects health care benefits for employees and retirees."

The atmosphere in the union hall today suggests this strike is far from over, but we'll be following this story closely as negotiations continue.
______________________________________________________

UPDATED: 08/05/2012 9:45 AM

Ongoing negotiations break down late Saturday night and as of 12:01 AM Sunday approximately 700 production and maintenance
employees represented by United Steel Workers Local 5668 commenced a strike.

Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC issued the following statement:

Ravenswood, West Virginia – (August 5, 2012) – Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, LLC, confirmed today that approximately 700 production and maintenance employees represented by United Steel Workers Local 5668 commenced a strike at 12:01 a.m. Sunday morning. The parties have been in negotiations since late May for a new collective bargaining agreement. The parties had returned to the negotiating table late
Saturday at the request of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, but their discussions failed to resolve the ongoing deadlock.

The Company had presented an offer to the Union negotiating committee earlier this week that would provide hourly employees with a net gain of more than $23,000 over the life of the contract, while delaying long-overdue changes to the healthcare plan into 2014 and 2015. The Union responded by refusing to present the offer to employees, cancelling the parties’
contract extension and announcing its intention to strike.

In an attempt to address the Union’s concerns, the Company on Saturday presented an alternative proposal that only would have required employees to make monthly contributions to their healthcare benefits and share in future cost increases. Employees would not have been required to participate in the 90/10 plan design proposed previously. The Union's
negotiating committee rejected this alternative, and again declined to give employees the opportunity to vote on either of the Company’s proposals. Since the negotiations began in late May, the Union’s negotiating committee has refused to make a counter proposal or offer any alternatives on healthcare cost sharing. Healthcare costs for active employees at the Ravenswood plant have been increasing at over 8% per year. If this trend continues, it would result in the Company spending close to $30,000 per employee per year by the end of the proposed five-year deal.

Constellium CEO Kyle Lorentzen expressed his disappointment over the parties’ inability to reach an agreement and over the fact that employees did not have an opportunity to vote. “No one wins in a strike, and that is especially true for the Ravenswood community,” Lorentzen said. “We fully understand that change is hard, but we believe we bent over backwards and worked hard in an effort to get our healthcare costs contained and help set this plant up for success in the future. We are extremely disappointed that the Local 5668 negotiating committee would not allow the membership the opportunity to consider the Company’s offers and make an informed choice at the ballot box. In my experience, that is how the negotiating process to works.”

The Company indicated that it remains willing to meet and continue the discussions, but that no further negotiations are scheduled at this time.

###

WTAP has not received a statement from the United Steel Workers Local 5668 at this time. Members at the Union Hall Sunday morning said the negotiations committee will be issuing a press release some time this week and had no additional comment.

Stay tuned to WTAP News and WTAP.com for the latest as it becomes available.
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UPDATED: 08/03/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Constellium Rolled Products is enhancing a proposal to union workers at its Ravenswood plant after contract negotiations broke down.

The Charleston Gazette reports the improved company offer is aimed at keeping steelworkers from going on strike.

Constellium has said its earlier offer included wage increases, one-time wage adjustments and other economic enhancements.

The company says the upgraded compensation package, which has an immediate, $7,000 ratification bonus, now totals an average of more than $30,000 per worker over the life of the five-year contract.

A United Steelworkers local official didn't immediate return a telephone message Friday.

Contract negotiations between the company and the union broke down Wednesday in Charleston and the union issued a 72-hour notice to terminate a temporary contract extension. The union represents nearly 700 workers.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


UPDATE: 08/02/2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A strike is looming at Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood.

Contract negotiations between the company and the United Steelworkers local broke down Wednesday in Charleston. The union represents nearly 700 workers. They turned thumbs down last week to a five-year contract offer from the company.

The Steelworkers local's Randy Moore told the Charleston Gazette the union issued a 72-hour notice to terminate a temporary contract extension.

He said if the company doesn't budge, a strike is "more than likely."

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The company issued what it called its "last" contract offer last month after the old contract expired July 15.

Constellium has said its offer included wage increases, one-time wage adjustments and other economic enhancements.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Updated: 7/31/2012 6:30 P.M.

A notice, stating simply, "The contract did not pass," posted outside the United Steelworkers Union hall , is the only public communication the union has made since Saturday on the status of contract talks with Constellium Rolled Products.

Union President Jason Miller has not returned phone calls. But people we spoke to at the union hall Tuesday say Miller and other union officials have been in meetings this week in Charleston.

In the meantime, a spokesperson for Constellium says that company's negotiating team was meeting this week. Where it was meeting, or what it was to discuss, the company would not say.

A resident who would only identify herself as a steelworker's wife, says the issues are important to their financial well-being.

"My thoughts are, give them a five-dollar an hour raise, keep the insurance the way it is, give them three sick days and three personal days a year," she said.

"It's a bad economy, and I think they should take any deal they can get," said Gary Cunningham, another Ravenswood resident.

Ravenswood residents still remember when Constellium, and the still-closed nearby Century Aluminum plant, were all part of the Kaiser and later Ravenswood Aluminum complex. They may now operate under different names, but they're still considered the heart of Jackson county's economy.

"It would definitely hurt our economy," Cunningham said. "This town relies on those two companies."

"My father-in-law worked there and retired there," the steelworker's wife said. "I know people who come in where I work who are retired."

Late Tuesday afternoon, U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller issued a statement saying that he has been in touch with Constellium and the Steelworkers union, o let both know that he hopes they will continue talks toward reaching a settlement.

______________________________________________________

Updated: 7/25/2012 6:15 P.M.

Throughout Wednesday, Constellium workers, and even some retirees, came to the steelworkers union hall to hear details of what the company calls its final contract offer.

Said Jason Miller, President of United Steelworkers Local 56-68: "We've been at the table approximately four weeks with the company, off and on."

If Constellium, which introduced itself to the public just last winter, sticks to those guns, these people might soon be on the picket lines.

"We were discussing the offer that was presented to us...the 'last, best and final' contract offer," Miller said "We're not in support of it."

The union's leadership says Constellium reneged on an agreement not to release details of the proposal...which a company news release issued last weekend says includes a proposal for employees to pay part of health care benefits.

Not only could this potentially be the latest in a long series of labor disputes involving the aluminum companies of Ravenswood, it also comes as the city, like the rest of the valley, is recovering from major storms, and has new political leadership.

" It is critically important that all parties involved come to a mutually acceptable agreement."

Ihle became the city's mayor on July first. He says the city, as well as Jackson County, benefits from Constellium and, if it reopens, nearby Century Aluminum, in terms of property tax revenue, and because much of its thousand-member workforce lives, shops and pays taxes in the city.

"They come in to pay utility bills every day," says Ihle. "It's a topic of discussion. There is apprehension and nervousness because there is uncertainty about what is about to happen. The process isn't pretty, but I'm willing for it to play out, because we have no other choice."

United Steelworkers members are to vote on the proposal Thursday night and Friday.

______________________________________________________

Negotiations are in progress between Constellium and United Steel Workers Local 5668.

Negotiations took place this week for a new collective bargaining agreement to cover nearly 700 production and maintenance employees of the Ravenswood plant.

The proposal offers workers 15,000 dolars on average in a new contract. In exchange, in 2014 employees would begin making weekly contributions for health benefits and sharing the cost of healthcare. Constellium offcials say those contributions would be about half the national average.

Company CEO Kyle Lorentzen says, "as the largest employer in Jackson County with almost 1,000 employees and with more than 2,400 retirees and their dependents relying on us for continued healthcare and pension benefits , we recognize the need for economic stability and the importance of a sustainable future."

The proposal also offers about 25,000 dollars in economic benefits.


UPDATE: 07/24/2012

RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (AP) - A proposed contract covering around 700 union workers at an aluminum rolling mill in Ravenswood is up for a vote this week.

Media outlets report that United Steelworkers Local 5668 is holding informational meetings for members Wednesday on Constellium Rolled Products' contract offer. Union workers will vote on the proposed contract Thursday and Friday.

The old contract expired at midnight on July 15. Local 5668 President Jason Miller says in a posting on the union's website that it's being extended day-to-day.

A strike vote will be held during Wednesday's meetings.

Ravenswood Mayor Michael Ihle says the city is encouraging the union and the company to agree to a deal that's fair for both sides.

The mill is Jackson County's largest employer, with about 1,000 workers.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


WTAP UPDATE: 07/21/2012

Negotiations are in progress between Constellium and United Steel Workers Local 5668.

Negotiations took place this week for a new collective bargaining agreement to cover nearly 700 production and maintenance employees of the Ravenswood plant.

The proposal offers workers 15,000 dolars on average in a new contract. In exchange, in 2014 employees would begin making weekly contributions for health benefits and sharing the cost of healthcare. Constellium offcials say those contributions would be about half the national average.

Company CEO Kyle Lorentzen says, "as the largest employer in Jackson County with almost 1,000 employees and with more than 2,400 retirees and their dependents relying on us for continued healthcare and pension benefits , we recognize the need for economic stability and the importance of a sustainable future."

The proposal also offers about 25,000 dollars in economic benefits.


ORIGINAL STORY

RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (AP) - Constellium and the United Steelworkers are negotiating a new contract for union workers at the company's aluminum rolling mill in Ravenswood.

A statement posted on United Steelworkers Local 5668's website says the existing contract has been extended until midnight July 22. That agreement was set to expire at midnight Sunday.

Details of the talks will be discussed with union members Tuesday during Local 5668's regular scheduled meeting.

A spokeswoman for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin told the Charleston Daily Mail that the governor hopes both parties come to an agreement soon.

The mill employs about 1,000 people and is Jackson County's largest employer.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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