CHICAGO The United
Steelworkers union and Alcoa Inc.s majority-owned
Aluminerie de Bécancour Inc. (ABI) have resumed contract
negotiations at the request of a government conciliator, both
sides told AMM Feb. 13.
"The goal remains to reach an
agreement that satisfies both parties while allowing our plant
to remain competitive," an Alcoa spokeswoman said in an
In the meantime, production at
ABI continues and customer requirements are being met, she
The development came over the
weekend when the government conciliator asked the union to
delay a vote initially planned for this week on a final offer
presented by ABI, a USW source told AMM. A vote on the
contract offer has been delayed indefinitely as the two sides
restart talks, the union source said.
A USW negotiating committee had
asked workers at ABI to reject the companys final
contract offer just days after it was presented last week.
Union workers at the Quebec smelter were previously expected to
vote on the proposed contract Feb. 12 and 13 (
amm.com, Feb. 7).
Alcoa and the USW have been
trying to reach a new labor agreement covering some 900 workers
at the 400,000-tonne-per-year ABI smelter since September (
amm.com, Jan. 4).
Market sources have expressed
concern that a potential strike or lockout could squeeze
aluminum billet supply and lead to higher premiums.
One trader said that the news of
resumed talks was welcome. He said his company was keeping an
eye on developments at ABI, given that a strike or lockout
could result in possibly lengthy downtime at the smelter. But
he also questioned why talks have dragged on for so long.