NEW YORK Workers at
Constelliums Ravenswood, W.Va., aluminum rolling mill are
threatening to strike after rejecting the companys latest
labor contract offer.
Following multiple extensions of
a contract originally set to expire July 15, nearly 700
Constellium workers represented by United Steelworkers union
Local 5668 voted down the Paris-based producers proposal
amm.com, July 30).
Union opposition to the proposed
contract appeared to be centered on health care.
Employees currently are
responsible for co-payments for doctor office visits and
prescriptions, while Constellium pays the monthly health-care
insurance premiums. Under an earlier proposal, employees would
begin making contributions to health-care premiums at about
half of the national average in 2014, although Constellium
postponed the start date to 2015 in its latest contract
"In addition to increasing
economic benefits for employees, we offered to delay
much-needed changes to our health care so that employees do not
begin paying monthly premiums until 2015. We believe this is a
good compromise," Kyle Lorentzen, Constellium chief executive
officer, said in a statement. "We know that change is
difficult, but a strike would be very devastating, particularly
for families and our community. It is unfortunate that the
union is taking this path."
The union did not respond to
requests for comment.
Constellium estimates that its
health-care costs at Ravenswood are about two-and-a-half
times higher than the national average, with the producer
paying an average of $11,000 more per employee per year. It
forecasts health-care costs will hit $30,000 per employee per
year by 2016.
Constellium said its contract
offer also included wage increases, one-time wage adjustments,
a ratification bonus and other economic enhancements.