Union votes down Arconic contract

Employees decide against proposal by 311-145 margin

WEATHERSFIELD — United Steelworkers at Arconic who’ve publicly complained about what they’ve said is the company’s unwillingness to negotiate a new contract shot down a proposal in profound fashion Monday.

A person familiar with the tally said members of United Steelworkers Local 2155 voted down the proposal 311 to 145.

Jose Arroyo, staff representative with USW District 1, confirmed the result late Monday night, but said “it’s too early to tell” what issues in the proposal were troublesome to Local 2155’s membership.

“The process is traditionally, after these things go down, we’ll notify the company they go down,” Arroyo said, adding representatives will sit down with members to get the reasons behind the disapproval to compile and take to Arconic to continue talks.

“At the end of the day, our goal is to continue to walk down this process until we get a ratified agreement,” Arroyo said.

He added the “union will continue to work in good faith, so there is no hint of a strike.”

About 600 people belong to the local.

The contract was not endorsed by union leaders, but still brought back to membership to decide, a member of 2155 said. Two of the issues were pay increases over the next two years and making some employees who don’t contribute toward health care begin contributing.

After-hours messages seeking comment were left Monday night with the 2155’s president and vice president. A message was left and an email sent seeking comment to Arconic’s media relations division.

The vote comes about two weeks after Local 2155’s second informational picket June 12 outside the entrances of the Niles Operations plant on Warren Avenue.

The first picket was April 29.

It was then union leaders publicly expressed their frustration and anxiety over working without a guaranteed contract and an uncertain future of negotiations with Arconic. They wanted Arconic to return to the bargaining table in earnest to negotiate an agreement to replace one that expired June 30, 2018.

The sides had been operating on a two-week rolling extension, which means if the company is ready to lock out the workers or the union is going to strike, they are required to provide the opposite side a two-week notice. Absent that or a new agreement, the previous contract remains in effect.

The top issue was job security for the production, office, maintenance and clerical employees who comprise the bargaining unit. In addition to the pickets, union members have met, held a solidarity day inside the facility and have shown a spotlight on several buildings in Niles that read “Fair Contract @ Arconic” to express their feelings.

A company spokesman in late April wrote in an email the company’s goal is to reach an agreement that “is fair to our employees, allows our businesses to grow, rewards both employees and shareholders and provides our customers with advanced materials and technologies.”