Workers to vote on Constellium offer Wednesday
RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. (AP) — Striking union workers at Constellium Rolled Products in West Virginia's Jackson County will decide this week whether to accept or reject the company's latest contract offer.
United Steelworkers officials tell media outlets that members of Local 5668 will vote by secret ballot on Wednesday. Four informational meetings on the contract proposal are scheduled Tuesday.
Union officials had said last week that there would not be a vote on the proposed five-year contract.
Seven hundred union workers have been on strike since Aug. 5 when contract talks broke down.
The strike is currently centered on proposed changes to health insurance. Constellium now pays 100 percent of workers' insurance premiums, but the new offer would require employees to pick up 5 percent of that.
The latest offer also includes a $7,500 signing bonus, $500 more than an earlier offer, as well as a 2.5 percent wage increase for each year of the contract. Workers currently make about $19 an hour, which the union says is less than peers at similar U.S. plants.
Constellium made its latest contract offer on Sept. 7, two days after both sides met in Charleston with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.
Tomblin, Manchin and U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller urged union leaders on Saturday to let their members vote on Constellium's offer.
"At the end of the day, it is up to the members to determine whether to accept the current offer. I hope each member carefully weighs this offer and what is in the best interest of themselves and their families," Tomblin said.
Rockefeller said a vote on the contract, regardless of whether workers ratify or reject it, is needed to move toward a resolution.
Manchin called on everyone involved "to keep cool heads in the coming days, as these talks are proving to be a marathon, not a sprint."
Constellium's aluminum rolling mill in Ravenswood is Jackson County's largest employer.
"I hope that everyone involved understands the hardships this has caused families in the Ravenswood community, and that jobs and economic security are first and foremost on everyone's minds over these next few days," Tomblin said.