RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. - Around 700 workers at Constellium Rolled Products went on strike Sunday morning, company officials said.
The company confirmed Sunday that approximately 700 production and maintenance employees represented by United Steel Workers Local 5668 commenced a strike at 12:01 a.m. Sunday, according to a press release from the company.
"The parties have been in negotiations since late May for a new collective bargaining agreement," the press release said. "The parties had returned to the negotiating table late Saturday at the request of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, but their discussions failed to resolve the ongoing deadlock."
Company officials had presented an offer to the union negotiating committee earlier this week that would provide hourly employees with a net gain of more than $23,000 over the life of the contract, while delaying long-overdue changes to the health care plan into 2014 and 2015.
The union responded by refusing to present the offer to employees, canceling the parties' contract extension and announcing its intention to strike, the company said.
"In an attempt to address the Union's concerns, the Company on Saturday presented an alternative proposal that only would have required employees to make monthly contributions to their health care benefits and share in future cost increases," the press release said. "Employees would not have been required to participate in the 90/10 plan design proposed previously.
"The Union's negotiating committee rejected this alternative, and again declined to give employees the opportunity to vote on either of the Company's proposals."
Constellium CEO Kyle Lorentzen expressed his disappointment over the parties' inability to reach an agreement and over the fact that employees did not have an opportunity to vote.
"No one wins in a strike, and that is especially true for the Ravenswood community," Lorentzen said. "We fully understand that change is hard, but we believe we bent over backwards and worked hard in an effort to get our health care costs contained and help set this plant up for success in the future.
"We are extremely disappointed that the Local 5668 negotiating committee would not allow the membership the opportunity to consider the company's offers and make an informed choice at the ballot box. In my experience, that is how the negotiating process works."
The company indicated that it remains willing to meet and continue the discussions, but that no further negotiations are scheduled at this time.
A union representative who answered the phone at the Local 5668 office in Ravenswood on Sunday said all he could say was that the union was going to put out a press release sometime this week. The union's website where the union has posted information about this situation was not operational Sunday, only showing the union's Ravenswood address and general contact information.
Union president Jason Miller could not be reached for comment.