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Voting begins today on 2nd ATI offer

| Thursday, Aug. 4, 2011

Allegheny Ludlum's union employees in the Alle-Kiski Valley are slated to vote today and Friday on a tentative contract that workers say offers them a modest wage increase and retirees a minimal boost beyond the initial deal struck down last month.

On July 26, United Steelworkers union members at Allegheny Technology Inc.'s various Ludlum units and a titanium operation in Oregon soundly rejected a proposal the rank and file argued didn't offer enough to current workers in light of recent ATI profits and would hurt retirees by requiring them to pay more for health care.

Keith Hayden, a laborer at Ludlum's Brackenridge Works, said he plans to vote against the new offer and that most of his fellow workers said they'll do the same.

"Everybody unanimously wanted to say 'no' on this proposal," Hayden said after an informational meeting Wednesday at the Local 1196 union hall in Brackenridge. "A lot of people are talking strike. With profits at an all-time high, the company still is not offering what we deserve."

ATI spokesman Dan Greenfield declined to comment. Likewise, a USW spokesman declined to comment.

Other workers who declined to offer their names said they are unhappy with the new deal.

Retirees are, too.

"These are the same cards, they just reshuffled them," Ludlum retiree Tony Slomkoski said.

Local 1196 members are scheduled to vote Friday, according to information on the local's website. Members of Local 1138 in Leechburg are scheduled to vote today. It wasn't immediately clear when members of the other union locals are scheduled to vote.

The roughly 2,400 workers covered under the contract are working under an extension that runs through Monday. Should they fail to ratify this new proposal, they likely will begin a work stoppage on Tuesday, a local union official has said.

Ludlum operates plants in Harrison, Gilpin, Vandergrift and Latrobe; Midland, Beaver County; and Washington and Houston, both in Washington County. Workers at a titanium operation in Albany, Oregon, are included in negotiations.

what's new

The USW and ATI have brokered a new four-year agreement that includes a restructuring of proposed wage increases and changes to health-care plans for new hires and retirees.

The major changes:

Wages: The new proposal offers a $3,000 signing bonus plus an hourly wage increase of 75 cents in the first year and 50 cents in each of the remaining years.

The first proposal offered a $3,000 signing bonus plus hourly wage increases of 75 cents in the first and third years and $1,500 lump sum payments in the second and fourth years.

Health care: Retirees and "surviving spouses" who receive less than $1,000 in monthly gross pension will have their premiums set at $50 per month.

Also, new hires are entitled to medical benefits as retirees.

The first proposal would have raised health-care costs for retirees as much as fivefold and didn't offer new hires medical benefits upon their retirement.

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