Alcoa, United Steelworkers come to tentative agreement


June 1, 2010 at 1:01 a.m.

United Steelworkers and Alcoa announced Tuesday they've entered into a tentative agreement.

The agreement, which has yet to be released, comes on the heels of a weeks-long negotiation between the groups. It focused on three key issues, according to an Alcoa website.

The first was a new health care program to help the company's master plants remain competitive. Health care costs continue to rise and Alcoa is looking at a new plan that includes a range of costs and coverage options, according to the site. Alcoa is also considering a different compensation package for new hires.

Finally, workplace flexibility came into the mix.

Alcoa needs flexibility when it comes to issues such as adjusting work schedules and staffing levels, according to the site, and introducing alternative work schedules.

Tuesday's agreement benefits employees and helps with company cost concerns, Mick Willis, president of Alcoa North American Rolled Products, said on Alcoa's website.

"We have spent the last two weeks working through some tough issues, and feel that this tentative agreement creates a future for good paying jobs at these plants," said Wallis, who also chairs Alcoa's company employee relations council. "We hope for a successful outcome after the local unions have had the opportunity to talk to employees."

Representatives from Alcoa's Point Comfort plant declined comment Tuesday, deferring inquiries to the company's corporate offices until the final details are worked out.

The next step in the process is to take summary booklets that outline the proposal back to members, said Mike Cabrera, union president for United Steelworkers 4370 in Point Comfort. From there, about 6,000 workers across 11 plants nationwide will vote, he explained.

"It's not just Point Comfort," Cabrera said.

Cabrera declined comment regarding negotiation details, explaining he'd rather wait until the members have a chance to review them.

The tentative agreement means Cabrera gets to head back to Texas, which is welcome news to the man who's been in Cincinnati since May 14. After more than two weeks away from home, it will be good to be back.

"I can't wait," he said.



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