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Constellium mill running at reduced rate

Keywords: Tags  Constellium, aluminum, strike, United Steelworkers union local 5668, Kyle Lorentzen, Ravenswood rolling mill, Suzy Waite

NEW YORK — Constellium is operating its aluminum rolling mill in Ravenswood, W.Va., at a limited rate with some 300 salaried employees after nearly 700 workers went on strike Sunday, a company spokeswoman told AMM, declining to comment on specific output volumes.

"Limited production work continues at the facility with salaried personnel," Constellium said Thursday.

After a series of failed negotiations over a new five-year labor contract, some 700 workers at the site went on strike Aug. 5 (, Aug. 6).

The situation at Ravenswood turned violent Wednesday after a brick was thrown at a truck driver leaving the facility, Paris-based Constellium said.

"(Wednesday’s) action was inexcusable, and we will support the state police fully as they investigate this attack and prosecute those responsible," Kyle Lorentzen, chief executive officer, said in a statement.

The union did not respond to requests for comment.

According to Constellium, other incidents of "violence and misconduct" have occurred on the picket line this past week, including punctured tires, verbal threats and the harassment of personnel entering and leaving the plant. Constellium said it is working to control the alleged violence, but added that its attempts have been "unsuccessful."

Meanwhile, the union has its own grievances against the company, having filed on Aug. 3 unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In the filing, the United Steelworkers union alleges Constellium bargained in bad faith and encouraged workers to resign their USW membership and cross the union picket line.

Constellium and members of the USW Local 5668 began discussions in May to renew a five-year contract that was initially set to expire on July 15 (, July 16). Most of the disagreement between the two sides has centered around the issue of health-care benefits, parties said.

Constellium wants to reduce its health-care costs at Ravenswood, which it estimates are about two-and-a-half times that of the national average. The union has rejected the company’s offers.

"The union’s rhetoric that we are ‘taking away’ health care is just wrong," Lorentzen said. "This is a very generous offer for what are already some of the highest paying manufacturing jobs in Jackson County, and yet the union’s negotiating committee is denying the membership a chance to vote on the offer."

"All we ask for is the ability to take care of our families," USW Local 5668 President Jason Miller said in a separate statement. "This community needs good jobs with decent benefits, and that’s what we’re fighting for."

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