News

USW-Alcoa contract vote set June 24

‘Overtime’ finish means 500 still-active Rockdale members eligible for up-or-down vote

Members of United Steelworkers Local 4895 will join about 5,000 of the rank-andfile nationwide in an up-or-down vote on a proposed four-year labor contract with Alcoa between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. June 24.

The pact was hammered out in an “overtime” negotiation June 1 in Cincinnati, Ohio, after the old pact expired at midnight May 31.

Most of the 500 still-active members of Local 4895 are on layoff status after the 2008 shutdown of the six-potline Rockdale Operations smelter. About 50 hourly workers remain employed at Rockdale Operations.

One-member, one-vote

It’s a one-member, one vote system, meaning votes from all 10 local unions will be combined and contract will pass or fail depending on that total.

National union officials urged passage of the contract, while admitting it contains increased health care premiums, deductibles and out-of-pocket health care expenditures.

But union officials, in a message to the rank-and-file, term the proposal “the best that we can achieve.”

USW notes Alcoa dropped its controversial “choices” plan which almost stalled the negotiations.

“Health care remains a single plan, not the ‘choices’ plan originally offered by Alcoa,” USW noted.

Highlights

Some highlights from the proposed contract:

• A $1,250 signing bonus for each employee actively at work, or returning within 30 days, on the day of ratification.

• Bonus payments of $1,000 effective July 5, 2010 and July 6, 2011, for each member actually at work (including vacations) on those dates.

• An average $1.08 per hour wage increase.

• Current cost of living adjustments (COLA) rolled into standard hourly rates.

• “New money” in contract to offset some increases in health care premiums.

If approved the contract would be in effect retroactive to June 1 and would expire May 15, 2014.

Grievance

Not everything was worked out. USW notes some 1,300 of its members remain on layoff due to the closing of smelters at Rockdale, Massena East (New York) and Tennessee.

Citing those layoffs, according to USW, Alcoa has halted supplementary unemployment benefits (SUB pay). USW has filed a grievance against Alcoa over that situation.

The contract under consideration would affect 5,400 hourly workers at 10 domestic sites.

In addition to Rockdale Local 4895, the following USW locals will cast ballots June 24:

• 4370, Point Comfort, Texas; 104, Warrick, Indiana; 105, Davenport Iowa; 115, Lafayette, Indiana; 309, Alcoa, Tennessee; 420, Massena, New York (Massena West); 450, Massena, New York (Massena East); 5073, Gum Springs, Arkansas; 310, Wenatchee Washington (along with local trade unions).


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