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Union OKs six-year contract with Allegheny Ludlum

Mary Ann Thomas
| Tuesday, June 19, 2001

Workers from the Valley's largest employer, Allegheny Ludlum, ratified a six-year labor contract Monday.

The United Steelworkers of America approved the agreement with a nod from 76 percent of its voting members. The contract passed by a 2,567 to 791 vote.

Ludlum employs about 4,000 people in the Valley and another 1,500 in Indiana, Massachusetts and New York.

'The membership spoke by casting their vote,' said Randy Haas, president of Steelworkers Local 1196 in Brackenridge. 'We'll have to live with it.' Haas didn't endorse the contract.

Wages for union workers will increase $2.50 per hour stretched over the life of the contract. And workers will receive a $1,500 signing bonus.

The agreement is effective from July 1, 2001, to June 30, 2007.

'These negotiations brought a record number of units into the master agreement negotiations and provides for industry leading pension benefits,' said Steelworkers District 4 Director Lou Thomas.

'We have 15 units in the master agreement that provides good wage and benefit increases that includes existing retirees,' Thomas said.

Ludlum President Douglas A. Kittenbrink said: 'I would like to thank our employees, the USWA International and the local union leadership for working together for the benefit of our employees and customers.'

Employees of the company seem content to have a contract ratified.

Steelworker Rob Davis of Buffalo Township said he voted for the contract, but he was more accepting of it than happy.

'I think it was a well-targeted contract. Allegheny Ludlum knows what to offer its employees,' he said.

Davis has worked at the Brackenridge plant for 25 years.

'For job security and a pension down the line I think it's a good contract,' Davis said.

The contract puts an end to concerns over another strike. In 1994 employees took to the picket lines for 69 days. It was the first strike at the plant in 35 years.

But Davis said he never thought a strike was a serious possibility this time.

'It doesn't surprise me it passed so overwhelmingly,' he said.

Steelworker John McFarland of Saxonburg said he's happy to have the contract approved. He has worked at the West Leechburg plant for 30 years.

'At first I wasn't real crazy about a long-term contract, but there were some very good points to it,'

McFarland said. He said he is happy that benefits will be wrapped up for the next six years.

When the contract was proposed this spring, some workers balked about the lack of a guaranteed 40-hour work week, an unsettled profit-sharing dispute and other issues.

Contract talks stalled in April as the union and company clashed on a successorship clause that would protect workers if Ludlum was bought out. The company came through with the clause, and contract summaries and ballots were sent to workers in early June.

Mary Ann Thomas can be reached at mathomas@tribweb.com .

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