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Alcoa Demands More Concessions in Nine-Month Lockout

October 15, 2018

By Steve Wishnia and Neal Tepel

TROIS-RIVIÈRES, Quebec—The Alcoa aluminum company “is indicating clearly that it is not interested in settling a nine-month lockout” of 1,030 employees at its ABI smelter in Bécancour, Quebec, the United Steelworkers charged Oct. 10. The union’s statement came five days after former Quebec premier Lucien Bouchard, appointed by the provincial government as a special mediator, announced that talks had broken off, with the parties still too far apart on key issues such as pension-plan changes and seniority. Workers at the plant, across the St. Lawrence River from Trois-Rivières, have been locked out since Jan. 11. Alcoa and minority owner Rio Tinto, said Clément Masse, president of Steelworkers/ Syndicat des Métallos Local 9700, have “demanded new concessions from workers several times during the negotiations,” even though the ABI smelter has the lowest labor costs per ton of all Alcoa’s facilities in North America, including a non-unionized smelter in Quebec. “Even if we were to slash labor costs in half, it still wouldn’t make up for the electricity costs, which are higher in Bécancour,” Masse said. “ABI is trying to blame its locked-out employees for the consequences of its own inability to negotiate better electrical rates with the Quebec government.” Read more

October 15, 2018

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