Contract Talks Go Down To The Wire At Alcoa, Arconic In Massena

Contract Talks Go Down To The Wire At Alcoa, Arconic In Massena

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No more concessions. That’s what union workers are telling Arconic and Alcoa management. Their contract expires first thing Thursday morning.

“You put your time in. You put your money in. You're part of that company. You want a slice of that pie,” said Jason Taraska, USW Local 420-A treasurer.

The big issue is pensions. The union says both companies want to freeze their pensions and replace them with 401(k) savings plans.

“The main reason people came to work at Alcoa and now Arconic are the benefits. You know you're taken care of. You wanted something that you didn't have to worry about,” said 

Health care and wages are also issues. These are the first contract negotiations since Alcoa spun off Arconic. That means each company is negotiating its own separate contract. That also means there could be a strike at one plant but not the other.

“This town and this area have been used to just one contract. So it does make things a little difficult trying to separate each company and stay on top of stuff and what's going on with each one of them,” said Taraska.

Alcoa feeds Arconic much of its raw material. But Arconic says it has "plans to manage the situation" if Alcoa has to limit or stop production. Alcoa also says it's prepared for a strike.

It’s not just people working at Arconic and Alcoa who have a stake in these negotiations. Business owners all along Main Street – and throughout Massena – are anxious about what comes next.

“We're always nervous when there's negotiations because there's always a negative aspect to that. Are the plants going to close? Are they going to leave Massena? Can they grow,” said Toby Violi, owner of Farmers Insurance, The Violi Agency.

More than 400 union members work at Alcoa and Arconic. There has not been a major Alcoa strike in Massena since 1986.

“People are on the edge of their seats in this community. No one wants to see a strike. No one wants to see an interruption in labor. Alcoa and Arconic are incredibly important to this community,” said Timmy Courier, Massena mayor.

The time for the expiration of the union contract at both companies is now 12:59 a.m. Thursday. Contracts can be extended by mutual agreement of company and union. 

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