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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York

Alcoa picket on hiatus

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MASSENA - There were no inflatable rats or protesters outside of Alcoa’s Massena West plant on Monday.

The informational picket, which began Aug. 30, has been called off until at least Wednesday, according to Paul Sirianni, marketing representative for the New York state Ironworkers District Council.

The ironworkers are picketing Alcoa for letting a Texas firm repair the cast house roof at the Massena West plant that was damaged in a March fire. CCC Group of San Antonio brought 24 of its own workers here and hired four local employees, Alcoa spokeswoman Laurie A. Marr said previously. That drew the ire of Local 440, which had planned to hire 32 of its own to work there.

Negotiations are underway between representatives of the union and Fluor Corp., the project management firm Alcoa retains to award contracts, Mr. Sirianni said. The ironworkers called off the picket as a “good faith measure” as discussions take place. Gregory R. Lancette, president of the Central and Northern New York Building Trades Council, is representing the ironworkers in the discussions.

“We’re hopeful we can come to some sort of an agreement that’s going to put local skilled people to work,” Mr. Sirianni said. “There seems to be some willingness to discuss things with us.”

Soon after the picket began, union officials had proposed a “project labor agreement,” which would put 32 local ironworkers to work on the project. In return, the CCC Group of San Antonio would dismiss the ironworkers it has working on the site. The picket continued into last week after no PLA was reached.

Many building trades unions are concerned with CCC’s selection, Mr. Sirianni said. Employing out-of-town contractors for one job could have implications for future projects, he said.

“Alcoa is dipping their finger in the water a little bit to see what type of labor support there is in the north country,” Mr. Sirianni said. “Next thing you know, there’s a parking lot full of plates from Texas and Oklahoma.”

Mr. Siranni said the picket’s purpose has not been to slander Alcoa, but rather restore what he called a good working relationship between the company and the unions.

“They’ve been a good economic partner in the past,” he said. “A lot of people depend on them.”

The ironworkers will continue to advocate for more local labor if no solution is reached, Mr. Sirianni said.

“We’re in this for the long haul,” he said.

Neither Mr. Lancette or Robert J. Cole, Local 440 business manager, could be reached for comment Monday. Ms. Marr declined further comment.

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