Striking union workers at Constellium Rolled Products have yet another contract offer in hand, following a meeting of the sides in the now 38-day old strike at the Ravenswood aluminum fabrication plant by members of United Steelworkers Local 5668.
Striking union workers at Constellium Rolled Products have yet another contract offer in hand, following a meeting of the sides in the now 38-day old strike at the Ravenswood aluminum fabrication plant by members of United Steelworkers Local 5668. Union and company representatives met at Governor’s Mansion in Charleston last Wednesday at the request of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin. Federal mediators and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin also attended. The two sides in the ongoing dispute had not met to negotiate since union workers struck on August 5 after contract negotiations broke down with proposed changes in health care as the major sticking point. The new offer from Constellium includes a $7,500 signing bonus, a 2.5 percent wage increase for each year of the proposed five-year contract and other economic benefits. The offer also includes a 95/5 health care plan beginning in 2013, and, starting in 2017, weekly employee contributions toward healthcare premiums which are “significantly less than half of the national average—only $17.31 per week for family coverage,” according to a statement on the Constellium website. The offer also includes a potential $1,000 healthcare cost containment bonus beginning in 2017. As part of the new offer, union workers would pay five percent of their health care expenses as compared to the 10 percent share contained in an offer made by the company on August 1. The signing bonus has also been upped $500 from the August 1 offer. The new company offer is set to expire at midnight on September 15. “We certainly appreciate Governor Tomblin’s and Senator Manchin’s willingness to get involved and push both sides to keep talking,” explained Constellium Ravenswood CEO Kyle Lorentzen. “I couldn’t agree more that getting these negotiations resolved is the right thing. That said, the company remains committed to making a change on healthcare. We have been talking about healthcare costs throughout the negotiations and continued to remind people that the issue is not going away. We made it clear to everyone involved in the discussions earlier this week that this offer is as far as the company is willing to go.” Constellium is waiting to hear whether USW Local 5668 will schedule a membership ratification vote on the new offer.