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Constellium’s W.Va. workers threaten to strike

Keywords: Tags  Constellium, Kyle Lorentzen, United Steelworkers union, USW, Ravenswood, strike threat, Suzy Waite

NEW YORK — Workers at Constellium’s Ravenswood, W.Va., aluminum rolling mill are threatening to strike after rejecting the company’s 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 producer’s proposal (, 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 offer.

"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.

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