Striking members of United Steelworkers Local 5668 will vote on the latest contract offer from Constellium Rolled Products Wednesday after all.
The latest company offer had been set to expire at midnight Saturday, but that offer has been extended to allow for the 700 union workers to vote after a unanimous decision Saturday by the Local 5668 negotiating committee to take the offer to a vote of the membership.
That change of direction Saturday followed lengthy discussions between the local union negotiating committee, USW international
officials and USW International president Leo Gerard.
That discussion followed three informational meetings Friday to explain the contract offer to the Local 5668 membership, but a motion made from the floor by a union member for a vote on whether to vote on the newest contract offer led to Saturday’s discussion and decision to hold a membership vote on the proposal. Some 200 of the 700 union workers did not attend Friday’s meetings.
There have been rumblings about unrest in the ranks when membership votes were not called for on a couple of previous contract offers made after the strike began, and indications that some union members have considered returning to work on their own.
USW Local 5668 held four meetings today (Tuesday) at 7:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. to explain details of the newest five-year contract offer from Constellium to the 700 hourly union workers who have been on strike since August 5. The four scheduled meetings will allow all union workers to attend and learn details of the new contract proposal.
A secret ballot will then be held Wednesday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. in which all members will be able to vote on whether to accept or reject the contract offer.
Gerard stated that the decision for a membership vote was made unanimously Saturday by the members of the negotiating committee.
Changes in health care cost sharing proposed by the company was the major sticking point in the breakdown of negotiations that led to the union workers going in strike August 5.
Constellium’s revised contract offer includes a 95/5 health care plan design beginning in 2013, and weekly employee contributions toward health care premiums beginning in 2017 “at rates significantly less than half of the national average—only $17.31 per week for family coverage.” The offer also includes a $7,500 signing bonus, 2.5% wage increases for each year of the five-year contract, a potential $1,000 health care cost containment bonus in 2017 and other economic benefits.
Constellium Ravenswood CEO Kyle Lorentzen has reiterated that the company remains committed to making a change on health care, and that the issue will not go away. He said that this offer is as far as the company is willing to go. Lorentzen believes strongly that the employees should have the right to review and vote on the contract offer.