Workers Strike at Alcoa's Cleveland Wheel Operation

Producer defends new contract proposal

November 7 — Alcoa Inc. reports a work stoppage went into effect at noon on Monday its Cleveland Works, which produces forged aluminum wheels for cars and heavy-duty trucks. The plant employs about 830 workers, according to Alcoa, who are represented by the United Auto Workers union. The company stated it put into effect a “business continuation” plan to keep “as much of the manufacturing process as possible” in operation.

Negotiation on a new contract has been underway for several weeks. Alcoa's Cleveland Works manager Brett McBrayer stated: "We entered negotiations with the hope of increasing our competitiveness while preserving jobs in Cleveland and the standard of living of our employees. It is unfortunate that we have not been able to reach a new agreement. We will, however, continue to be attentive to our customers and try to protect jobs during this period of uncertainty."

The company states the plant is faced with rising health-care costs, utility increases, and low-cost foreign competition. "We must contain our costs, improve productivity and grow our business to be globally competitive. Having a fair competitive long-term labor agreement, like the one offered to UAW Local 1050, would help better position us to secure our future in Cleveland," McBrayer said.

Alcoa's position is that it offered the union a health-care plan approved by 9,000 United Steelworkers union employees at 15 Alcoa locations last June. The Cleveland workers currently are responsible for co-payments for doctor visits, while the new plan would present them with “modest premiums and low deductibles,” Alcoa states. The company's proposal also includes an attendance policy (to manage absenteeism and reward good attendance), increased pension benefits for long-term employees, and a 9% wage increase over the term of the contract.

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