With union vote planned, Constellium extends contract deadline

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Constellium Rolled Products, which operates an aluminum plant in Ravenswood, confirmed it is extending its final offer on its proposed five-year contract through Wednesday. The earlier deadline for the United Steelworkers Local 5668 to approve the contract was Saturday.In a statement released late Monday afternoon, Constellium said it extended its deadline because the union plans to hold a ratification vote Wednesday.Constellium said its final contract offer "provides employees with a $7,500 ratification bonus, 2.5 percent wage increases in each year of the contract, and other economic benefits."The offer includes a 95/5 healthcare plan that pays for 95 percent of covered healthcare costs. Employees will not pay for healthcare premiums until 2017," according to the company's statement.In 2017, the statement added, the health insurance rates will still be "significantly less than half of the national average -- only $17.31 per week for family coverage.""We believe this is a generous proposal -- especially given the current difficult economic environment -- and hope that employees and their families agree," said Constellium CEO Kyle Lorentzen.
Leo Gerard, the USW's international president, based in Pittsburgh, said Monday that the Constellium agreement is "better than all the agreements we are getting anywhere else."The union will hold four meetings Tuesday at its local union hall, just south of Ravenswood, to explain the contract offer to all local union members.Today, Constellium employs about 1,000 people at its Ravenswood plant, 700 of whom are members of the United Steelworkers.On Monday, Lorentzen also acknowledged that the company's salaried staff has been working "to maintain certain production activities at the plant to serve customer needs since the union called employees on strike Aug. 5."We have tremendous potential here in Ravenswood," Lorentzen said. "We've invested heavily in new equipment and technology to compete on a global scale, and we have secured the opportunity to increase production through new contracts with our customers. We have the opportunity to write a new chapter in the future growth of Ravenswood."Reach Paul J. Nyden at pjnyden@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5164.
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