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Alcoa’s master contract expires Thursday

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MASSENA - A contract between Alcoa and the United Steelworkers that represents roughly 6,100 employees in 10 cities across the United States, including at both plants in Massena, expires Thursday.

USW Local 420-A President Robert A. Smith has been in Pittsburgh since April 27 for negotiations.

“We are hopeful that Alcoa will craft a deal that is fair to its employees and representative of all the hard work that we do,” he said.

He said a lot of work remains before a deal is finalized, but talks are progressing.

According to Alcoa’s website, negotiations began on April 28 and are set to continue through Thursday.

In a news release posted on its website detailing April 10’s “kickoff session,” the company said that one of the issues being discussed is health insurance benefits.

“Alcoa currently offers master employees a robust benefits plan with employee contributions that are significantly lower than the national average,” the release states. “The company offered to keep the same master health care plan for current employees, but with adjustments to specific plan provisions. Future employee contribution rates will also be a subject of discussion in these negotiations.”

The company has posted daily updates at the close of talks each day.

Sunday’s update said conversation was centered around the employee prescription drug plan, as well as “various items” related to the structure and administration of the health care plan. On Saturday both sides reviewed a proposal for benefits and some of the contract language.

An update posted May 7 stated that Alcoa was confident a deal would be reached before the current contract expired.

“The company continues to believe a cost-effective, competitive agreement can be used,” it said.

When reached by telephone Monday, Mr. Smith declined to elaborate on the nature of the talks.

“We need a fair deal that is reflective of all that we do,” he said.

Alcoa spokeswoman Laurie A. Marr said the company currently employs approximately 620 members of the United Steelworkers in Massena. The West plant and recently idled East plant had a total of roughly 825 union employees. Ten people are still working at Alcoa East.

Ms. Marr said she was optimistic that a deal would be reached soon.

In his remarks on April 10, Alcoa President of Global Primary Products and Employee Relations Council Chairman Bob Wilt also said he was confident a new deal would be reached.

“I believe we all have the same objective in mind,” he said. “To reach an agreement that is fair to our employees and positions our business for future success. Alcoa and the United Steelworkers have a proud history of working together, resolving problems and finding common ground, and I am confident that we will be successful in doing so again.”

On the web: www.AlcoaNegotiations.com

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