Ludlum steelworkers authorize strike
Allegheny Ludlum workers don't want to strike but say they will if parent company Allegheny Technologies Inc. refuses to offer them a better contract, according to numerous laborers who attended meetings Thursday at union halls in Brackenridge and Leechburg.
"What people want is another contract extension," said Keith Hayden, who works at Ludlum's Brackenridge plant. He said the overwhelming sentiment among his co-workers is that they want to avoid a strike and hope ATI will offer another 30-day extension on the contract that expired June 30.
Ludlum employees currently are working under a contract extension that expires Monday. Earlier this week, they voted down a proposed contract. They have said they want wage increases that keep pace with inflation and don't want retirees paying more for medical benefits.
They were offered a $3,000 lump sum bonus in first year, $1,500 in the third year and 75 cents an hour pay increase in the second and fourth years.
"It's an impossibility," Hayden said of the potential for a strike, arguing there isn't enough support for one.
Other workers who declined to give their names said they weren't so sure. They said union members, in large number, agreed through "voice votes" to give their leadership permission to call a strike if it's apparent ATI won't make concessions.
Mickey Karns, president of Local 1196 in Brackenridge, and Dave Bridgen, president of Local 1138 in Leechburg, declined to comment.
Strike authorization votes are happening this week at the other Ludlum locals. Ludlum operates plants in Brackenridge, Leechburg, Vandergrift, Houston, Latrobe, Midland and Washington. Workers at a titanium operation in Oregon are included in negotiations.
Greg Fumea, who works in the melt shop at the Ludlum plant in Latrobe, said a majority of his fellow laborers feel the same as those in the Alle-Kiski Valley.
"I don't think anybody wins in a strike," Fumea said. "I don't want a strike."
He argued, much the same as workers in Brackenridge and Leechburg, that ATI is in a position to offer more. "This is a concession contract," he said of what the company offered.
ATI said Wednesday that its profit surged 76 percent to $64 million in the second quarter and sales rose compared with a year ago.
Company CEO Richard Harshman said in a Wednesday conference call with investors and analysts that ATI will continue to work with the union to reach an agreement.
Dan Greenfield, company spokesman, declined to comment yesterday.
United Steelworkers officials couldn't immediately be reached for comment.