Is Deal Near To Keep Alcoa Jobs In Massena?

Is Deal Near To Keep Alcoa Jobs In Massena?

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Is a deal near to keep the Alcoa plant in Massena operating, and with it, more than 400 jobs?

On Thursday, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer issued a letter calling on the New York State Power Authority (NYPA) and Alcoa to "to expeditiously reach an agreement" for low cost electricity that would, presumably, guarantee Alcoa keeping its Massena operation for a few more years.

The current agreement between Alcoa and the state, reached in November 2015, runs out at the end of the month.

Schumer's very public call for negotiations to wrap up suggests that the state and Alcoa are already well along in talks. In recent days, local officials have been told the deal is close, with an important caveat - there was one outstanding issue still under negotiation.

"I’m urging the NYPA and Alcoa to reach a new agreement ASAP, to continue their fruitful partnership and maintain hundreds of crucial North Country jobs," Schumer said in a statement.

"I was proud to help facilitate the 2015 agreement between Alcoa and the NYPA, as well as agreements prior to that under other governors, and believe we can reach a similar outcome again, to ensure that the Alcoa Massena facility is productive and able to thrive for years to come.”

The 2015 deal was described at the time as including $30 million in low cost electricity along with millions more in other state incentives. 7 News reported in 2015 that the deal was worth even more to Alcoa than was publicly acknowledged.

In December, the Power Authority approved a cheap electricity deal with Arconic, the Alcoa spin-off company, which kept 145 jobs in Massena.

The Alcoa plant has more than 400 workers - Schumer's press release Thursday put the number at 450.

- reported by Jeff Cole & Scott Atkinson

The full text of Schumer's letter

I write in support of efforts by the New York State Power Authority (NYPA) to reach an agreement that will allow Alcoa Corp. to continue accessing low-cost electricity from the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project for its smelting operations in Massena, NY. With the current pact – that I helped negotiate with Governor Cuomo and NYPA – set to expire on March 31, 2019, my office has been in close contact with Alcoa and NYPA and it appears that both entities are committed to ensuring that hundreds of good paying jobs remain in St. Lawrence County for years to come.

In November 2015, Alcoa suddenly announced plans to curtail their aluminum smelting facility and lay off 480 people associated with that work in Massena. Recognizing the damage such a move would inflict on the North Country economy, I worked closely with New York state and Governor Cuomo to negotiate a deal which included $30 million in low-cost electricity from NYPA along with operational and capital support from the state. In exchange, Alcoa would maintain at least 600 jobs in Massena for at least three and a half years. As the expiration of that deal approaches, I have received assurances that NYPA and Alcoa are committed to continuing this partnership, but both entities must now work assiduously to see that a constructive deal is forged before the looming deadline.

Since the signing of the agreement, Alcoa Inc. split into two publicly traded companies – Alcoa Corp. and Arconic. I applaud NYPA for recently reaching a ten-year deal with Arconic that will retain 145 jobs long term and share optimism that a similar deal will be reached with Alcoa to maintain its 450-plus jobs. As you know, clean and renewable power generated from the St. Lawrence-FDR Power Project makes Massena an ideal location for energy intensive industries like aluminum smelting.

Alcoa is central to the North Country’s economy and its local workforce is second to none. I was fortunate enough to witness firsthand the joy of the local community and workforce after the deal to preserve jobs in Massena was announced in 2015. Having worked closely with multiple New York administrations to forge previous deals with the company, I am aware you are working diligently towards a similar outcome during present negotiations and thank you for your determination and leadership.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter. Please don’t hesitate to contact me or my staff should you have further questions.

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