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USW recommends rejection of ABI offer

Keywords: Tags  Aluminerie de Bécancour, ABI, Alcoa, United Steelworkers union, USW, contract negotiations, negotiating committee, Clement Masse USW Local 9700

CHICAGO — Workers at Alcoa Inc.’s majority owned Aluminerie de Bécancour Inc. (ABI) have been asked by a United Steelworkers union negotiating committee to reject the company’s final contract offer.

"This final bid does not recognize the priorities identified by members during negotiations," USW Local 9700 president Clément Masse said in a statement Feb. 7. Management might be seeking a "win-win" contract, but "that is not what we have in our hands at the moment."

The rejection recommendation comes just four days after ABI presented the final proposed offer to the union Feb. 4 (, Feb. 6).

Unionized workers at the Quebec smelter will vote on the proposed contract Feb. 12 and Feb. 13, the USW said.

"ABI’s goal remains to reach an agreement that satisfies both parties while allowing our plant to remain competitive," a spokeswoman for Pittsburgh-based Alcoa told AMM Feb. 7 via e-mail. "Production is continuing and ABI will continue to do everything it can to ensure customer needs are met."

If the contract is rejected, a strike, lockout or more negotiations could follow, a union source told AMM, adding that more negotiations and a deal representing the best interests of both parties would be preferable to a strike or lockout.

Alcoa and the USW have been trying to renew a labor contract covering some 900 workers at the 400,000-tonne-per-year ABI smelter since September (, Jan. 4).

Market sources expressed concern Feb. 7 that a potential strike or lockout could squeeze aluminum billet supply and lead to higher premiums, especially if such a development were to drag into the spring months, historically a period of increased demand.

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