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United Steelworkers Local 450-A reps to meet with Alcoa East workers today

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MASSENA - Employees of Alcoa East who have been worrying their future since a Jan. 15 announcement that the company would be shutting down the final two potlines at the former Reynolds Metals plant will get some answers today.

A settlement between the Alcoa and United Steelworkers Local 450-A was reached Wednesday afternoon. However, the details of that settlement will not be made public until union leaders have had the opportunity to share those details with fellow union members.

The meetings will likely answer questions about whether Alcoa East employees will be able to transfer to openings at the Alcoa West and the scope of any early retirement options.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, Local 450-a President David W. LaClair Jr. said, “United Steelworkers Local 450-A will be holding special meetings to discuss the

options available to its members. These meetings will be held at the community center on Beach Street at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. Thursday (tonight). If an employee is unable to attend they may contact the union hall at 769-7510 and the information will be relayed to them.”

Alcoa announced the closure of the plant’s final two potlines on Jan. 15, saying at that time they hope to have the lines idled “in the first quarter of this year.” The company previously closed a potline there in August.

When the decision to close the plant’s final two potlines was made earlier this month, Alcoa Global Primary Products President Bob Wilt said the company was planning to negotiate with its employees to minimize the impact the announcement would have.

“We will be working with our unions, state, local and other stakeholders to minimize the impact of these changes,” he said through a statement released at that time.

According to Alcoa Media & Corporate Relations Manager Christa Bowers Alcoa’s east plant employes 332 employees.

The west plant employs 669, she said. A contract with the New York Power Authority requires Alcoa to maintain 900 jobs in Massena to keep its allotment of low-cost hydropower. Alcoa, in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, has said it utilize 50 employees to demolish the East plant potlines.

In a statement released Wednesday evening, Ms. Bowers said the two sides worked “cooperatively” to reach an agreement.

“Alcoa and the United Steelworkers worked cooperatively to reach agreement on minimizing the impact of the potline closures at Massena East on hourly employees. The USW will communicate details of the agreement to its membership,” she said.

Mayor James F. Hidy said the best case scenario would be no lay-offs with long-term positions found for each of the plant’s employees.

Realizing though that’s unlikely, Mr. Hidy said, “We’re hoping the negotiations solidified plant expansion, and that few, if any, people will be laid off.”

Mr. Hidy said he’s hoping to see minimal impacts for both management and hourly employees.

He also said that he believes Alcoa understands how important they are to the region.

“I think Alcoa realizes the impact of any decision they make, whether it be positive or negative, effects not only Massena, but all of St. Lawrence County and part of Franklin County,” he said. “There’s a lot on the line here.”

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