Aluminum workers win raises, preserve benefits

MALAGA, Wash. — Machinists Union members and other union workers at Alcoa’s Wenatchee Works are working under a new five-year contract.

This undated handout image received 07 MAbout 350 aluminum smelter workers represented by the Wenatchee Aluminum Trades Council ratified the contract on June 6. The agreement was retroactive to May 16, which was when the previous agreement expired.

The agreement provided:

  • A ratification bonus of $1,000;
  • Yearly 2.5-percent wage increases for all job grades during the first three years, with 3-percent yearly increases for all in the remaining two years;
  • A one-time wage increase of $1.92 for electricians, general mechanics and machinists to address problems Alcoa is having retaining workers in these trades nationwide.
  • No changes in health care benefits for both active and retired workers, plus  no increases in deductibles, co-pays or co-insurance and  no changes to health care contribution rates; and
  • An increase in the pension formula and a  new benefit for Alcoa employees who suffer severe burns.

“It is the best contract I have seen since I have been at Alcoa,” said Fred McNeil, a Machinists Union steward and officer who has been at the Wenatchee plant for 25 years. “It was a good contract and people are generally happy.”

Locking in health care costs through May of 2109 “is huge,” said Machinists Union Local Lodge 1123 President Jim O’Brien, who was part of the Wenatchee Aluminum Trades Council negotiating team.  “It is nice to have wage increases each year that won’t be erased by higher health care premiums.”

The workers stood together to defeat Alcoa’s initial demands for cuts in health care and the elimination of a defined benefit pension for new hires, as well as the company’s push to establish a temporary workforce, O’Brien added. “We did not accept any concessions or two-tier proposals, which Alcoa was pushing.”

The Trades Council negotiates on behalf of all union workers at the Wenatchee facility. Forty-six of them are Machinist Union members, while more than 200 are members of the United Steelworkers union. The rest belong to International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Sheetmetal Workers International Association and the International Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers. The Machinists are members of Local 1123, which is affiliated with Machinists Union District Lodge 751 in Seattle.

The new contract is part of a nationwide agreement covering workers at Alcoa plants in Warrick and Lafayette, Ind.; Point Comfort and Rockdale, Texas; Davenport, Iowa; Badin, N.C.; Alcoa, Tenn.; Massena, N.Y.; and Gum Springs, Ark.  The contract covers approximately 6,000 workers nationwide in five different unions.

Originally formed in 1935 to represent hourly workers at the Boeing Co., District Lodge 751 of the International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers now represents more than 32,000 workers at 50 employers in Washington, Oregon and California. In Eastern Washington, members are served by a network of local lodges that includes Local 1123 in Wenatchee, Machinists Union Local Lodge 86 in Spokane and Machinists Union Local Lodge 1951 in Richland.

To talk to an IAM 751 officer about how to join the Machinists Union, click here.

 

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