Tentative Settlement Reached in Kaiser Aluminum Strike
SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) _ About 3,000 striking steelworkers at Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corp. are scheduled to vote on a tentative agreement to end a week-long walkout.
Representatives from Kaiser and the United Steelworkers of America reached a new 47-month contract proposal in weekend talks in Salt Lake City. The previous contract expired Oct. 31.
Rank-and-file members will cast ballots Tuesday at the five Kaiser plants hit by the strike and could return to work as soon as late Tuesday or early Wednesday, said Fred Gariepy, a union spokesman in Spokane.
``If they approve it, we hope to get back to work as soon as possible,″ Gariepy said Sunday. ``There’s a lot of tired people out there on both sides of the plant gates.″
Workers struck two Spokane-area plants, a Tacoma smelter, a refinery in Gramercy, La., and a plant in Heath, Ohio, last Monday in a dispute over job security and pay. Kaiser has been using management workers to keep operations running.
The latest proposal includes improvements in health benefits for spouses and retirees and a signing bonus of $200 or two personal days for each employee, Gariepy said. Union workers’ average pay is $13 an hour.
It also modifies provisions allowing Kaiser to rearrange the work force by combining jobs and establishing new job descriptions, Gariepy said. However, Kaiser spokesman Scott Lamb said the new proposal makes no changes in those provisions.
Bob Rudd, financial secretary of Spokane Local 338, called it ``a plus from the last offer.″
Union member Dan Carpenter in Spokane disagreed.
``All they’ve done is made enough concessions so each party can save face, as far as I’m concerned,″ he said.