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Alcoa has 170 employees take advantage of early retirement, other offerings

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MASSENA — About 170 workers have opted to take Alcoa’s offer of early retirement or resignation, enough that no one should face an involuntary layoff as a result of the closure of the Alcoa East plant, according to a union leader.

David W. LaClair Jr., president of the United Steelworkers Local 450-A, said 140 workers accepted early retirement. They were roughly split between the East and West plants, he said.

In addition, “approximately 30 people took quit packages and are moving on with their lives,” most of them from the East plant, Mr. LaClair said.

Only one employee elected to transfer to an out-of-state Alcoa plant, he said.

Under the terms Alcoa reached with the union, employees who take the early retirement option will receive a lump sum payment of $25,000 plus $500 for each year of service.

The same deal was offered to employees who may not qualify for early retirement.

As for what happens next, Mr. LaClair said remaining East plant employees are bidding on vacancies created at the West plant, based on seniority.

“Once employees are moved over to the West plant, what few employees are left will be used in the decommissioning of the East plant,” Mr. LaClair said.

Decommissioning is expected to take 18 to 24 months, wrapping up right around the time Alcoa is expected to decide whether to proceed with modernizing the East plant. If it does, then the East employees would be expected to stay on at the new plant.

“That’s the idea,” Mr. LaClair said. “I would have a hard time swallowing layoffs if they’re announcing they’re modernizing.”

How many workers a new East plant would employ has yet to be determined, he said.

Alcoa now employs 332 workers at the East plant, with 254 of them belonging to the union, Mr. LaClair said. About 675 employees work at the West plant, with approximately 500 of them belonging to the union, according to Robert A. Smith, president of the United Steelworkers Local 420-A.

The union leaders said they were pleased with the number of employees who accepted a package from the company.

“I’m happy that we got to the point where I believe there will be no involuntary layoffs,” Mr. LaClair said. “The people who did leave are leaving at their own choice.”

Mr. Smith said he and other members of 420-A are ready to welcome the transferring employees.

“We’re welcoming employees from the East plant with open arms into our local,” he said.

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