MASSENA - Mayor James F. Hidy and Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray said they are maintaining a positive attitude about the prospects of Alcoa keeping their agreed upon 900 jobs in Massena the day after settlements between employees and union members were revealed.
Employees from Alcoa East and Alcoa West met with United Steelworkers union leaders Thursday to find out how the upcoming closure of the two remaining West pot lines will affect their future.
Workers from both plants will be offered early retirement and transfer incentives, as well as quit packages.
United Steelworkers representatives said on Thursday that they believe with the deal the company can both avoid involuntary layoffs and stay within the terms of the low-cost power agreement with NYPA.
The packages they are offering look favorable if those employees are in a comfortable position to accept an offer like that. I think its a good strategy on Alcoas part, Mr. Hidy said. Hearing from local union officials, it might be a plan you can live with.
It sounds like they are making the best out of a bad situation. It is not good that some people wont be employed there, but they gave them some options, Mr. Gray added.
Under the settlement, employees would be offered early retirements, quit packages and one-time payments if they transfer to other facilities within the master agreement. Employees transferring to Alcoa West would not be eligible for the incentives. Plants that employees could transfer to include two in Texas, two in Indiana, and plants in Tennessee, Iowa, Washington, Arkansas and North Carolina. They would receive $15,000 plus $500 for each year of service with the company for transferring to those plants.
The agreement also notes that those who decide to leave the company will receive a lump sum payment of $25,000 as well as an additional $500 for each year of service to the company.
Long term, we certainly think and hope that its a positive thing. We hope this will keep Alcoa in Massena for a long time moving forward, Mr. Hidy said. Id like to thank both Alcoa and the Steelworkers union for their consideration and their negotiation efforts.
We can do what we can to support local people, Mr. Gray added. I think everybody feels bad for the families displaced, and we hope that that is kept to a minimum. We wish them all the best.
Employees have until Feb. 21 to accept the deal.
Of the 332 employees at the East Plant, 254 workers are in the union with between 95 and 100 qualifying for early retirement, according to United Steelworkers Local 450-A President David W. LaClair Jr.
Mr. Gray and Mr. Hidy said that they still expect the modernization project to occur with Alcoa.
The key is for the power to be secure. We want the power here to secure local jobs so I sure hope that Alcoa is able to keep the job level at the numbers they need to keep their power, Mr. Gray said. All I can be is optimistic about the modernization. It is still on the schedule. I sure hope the modernization moves forward and until I hear otherwise I will remain optimistic and assume it is going to happen.
Maintaining the 900 jobs is contractually in the agreement. Contractually I think theres an obligation that is met (with this deal,) Mr. Hidy added. Were hoping the modernization is the key to the livelihood of this community and well see how that plays out.