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Union leaders expect to have answers next week for Alcoa East plant employees

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MASSENA - As Alcoa officials have met in New York City with representatives from the New York Power Authority and governor’s offices to discuss plans to close the Alcoa East plant and its impact on a power contract, local union officials are also meeting with company leaders to discuss the future of the blue collar workers at the Massena location.

“What we’re doing right now affects bargaining due to the announcement of the decision to close the last two potlines as the east plant,” United Steelworkers Local 450-A President David W. LaClair Jr. said. “We’ve met over the last few days and will continue to meet next week.”

Not wanting to hamper those negotiations, Mr. LaClair said he can’t divulge the specifics of what has been discussed, but he said he is glad the company is listening to their concerns.

“At this point there is no discussion on the talks, because they are still wide open,” he said. “It’s a positive thing we’re still talking.”

Alcoa officials said last week there were 332 employees - labor and management combined - at the East Plant. The former Reynolds Metals plant once employed approximately 800 workers.

Mr. LaClair said right now everyone from the plant’s employees to town and village leaders have a ton of questions, but at this point there are very few answers available other than saying negotiations with the company have been very productive.

“I would say the talks have been very productive. Next week we’ll reconvene and hopefully work through it,” he said. “Hopefully by the end of next week we’ll have some answers for our members.”

When asked how last week’s announcement has impacted morale at the plant, Mr. LaClair said union leaders are doing their part to keep morale as high as possible.

“It was kind of expected, but right now until we get through these talks there are a lot of unanswered questions,” he said. “We’re asking everyone to look out for each other, keep their heads up and make safety their number one priority.”

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