CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said Wednesday night that officials with Constellium Rolled Products sent a revised offer to a local steelworkers union in an effort to end a month-long strike at the Ravenswood aluminum plant.Both sides sat down to discuss the strike Wednesday."First, I want to thank both parties for coming together today with an open mind and a common goal: to reach an agreement and end the work stoppage. I do believe progress was made today," Tomblin said in a statement. "At this point, the company has provided a revised offer to resolve the contract dispute and end the work stoppage. That offer now lies in the hands of the local union representative committee."Tomblin said he is encouraged by the dialogue and will encourage both parties to keep working until a deal is done.
In the same statement, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said: "I've always said that we're like family in West Virginia. Sometimes families don't always agree, and that's when you sit down to work things out."Randy Moore, subdistrict director for the United Steelworkers Local 5668, told the Gazette last month that changes Constellium demanded in its health insurance plan were the major factor leading to the breakdown in negotiations for a new five-year contract.Nearly 700 union workers went on strike against Constellium, a major manufacturer of high-quality aluminum used for airplanes, automobiles and other transportation-related products.Just before the strike, officials with Constellium said the company was "significantly enhancing" an earlier offer to the local steelworkers union.It included annual pay increases, sickness and accident benefits, pension benefit improvements and a health-care plan starting in 2015 that featured premiums costing "about half of the national average," company officials had said. The offer was intended to keep steelworkers from striking at the Jackson County plant."All we've ever wanted is for everyone to be treated with fairness," Manchin said in the statement. "My hope is that will happen sooner rather than later."