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Steelworkers hold rally in front of Alcoa West plant in Massena

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MASSENA — Members of United Steelworkers Local 420-A gathered in front of the Alcoa West plant for a solidarity rally Wednesday afternoon while contract negotiations continued as the deadline loomed.

About 30 workers had turned out by 3 p.m. for the peaceful picket, holding blue and yellow placards reading “Solidarity, Unity and Strength for Workers.”

“This is a rally for solidarity, and we’re doing this with the employees from all of the plants in our bargaining unit,” said 420-A recording secretary Michael Kormanyos, adding that employees from nine other Alcoa plants across the country were holding similar rallies.

The contract Alcoa has with those roughly 6,100 Steelworkers expires at 12:59 a.m. Friday, and Mr. Kormanyos said he did not know whether to expect a deal by then. Health care benefits were among the issues the parties were discussing this week during contract negotiations in Pittsburgh.

“We’re not at that table, but I can tell you all we’re looking for is a fair contract with no concessions,” he said. “The International has put together a package that we believe is fair and acceptable.”

Members of several other unions also attended the rally to show their support. Craig Garrow said he is a member of the local laborers union. “I’m here to support the Steelworkers,” he said.

Robin Johnson is a member of the local American Federation of Government Employees.

“I have family that’s retired from the plant and I’m from the area,” she said. “I know a lot of people in there.”

One 420-A member brought his family. Nick Perkins was joined by his wife, Megan, and his daughter, Sophia.

“I pulled her out of school a little bit early,” Mrs. Perkins said. “I figured how many peaceful pickets could she ever be a part of?”

Massena Mayor James F. Hidy stopped by to lend his support.

“I do support the local unions. They are the backbone of our local economy,” he said. “These are people who have tremendous buying power. They support our local economy and businesses.”

Mr. Hidy said he is hopeful that a deal will be reached prior to any work stoppage.

“I strongly support bargaining in good faith, but I also recognize that with the uncertainty of Alcoa that the health care and competitive wages they offer are critical for our region.”

Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray echoed those sentiments.

“I am hopeful for a quick and positive resolution to the negotiations,” he said.

Former Local 450-A president David W. LaClair, who now works at Alcoa West and is a 420-A member, said it’s hard to tell what will happen in the final hours of contract talks.

“They have a deadline, and they will work until the deadline comes,” he said. “Sometimes you’ll see the deadline extended, or you might see a strike or lockout. Until that time comes we don’t know.”

Speaking as dozens of drivers passed by honking and waving, Mr. LaClair said, “It’s great to see the support from Massena and the surrounding communities.”

According to an update posted on Alcoa’s website on Wednesday evening, a deal had yet to be reached but negotiations were ongoing.

“Talks continue toward a fair and competitive labor agreement before the contract expires tomorrow at 11:59 p.m. CDT. Today, Alcoa and the USW reviewed proposals and counterproposals in economics, benefits and language,” the update read.

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