MASSENA Out-of-state contractors completing work on Alcoas cast house roof are a hard pill to swallow, say local laborers who protested outside the plant Thursday.
Ironworkers Local 440 is picketing Alcoa for letting a Texas firm, which is bringing in its own workers, repair the roof at the Massena West plant that was damaged in a March fire. Dozens of pickets surrounded the four plant entrances, holding signs with messages such as Support local labor as passing motorists honked their horns and waved.
Alcoa retained a project management firm, Fluor, which is awarding construction contracts. Fluor recently selected CCC Group Inc., San Antonio, to complete a portion of the repairs. CCC brought 24 of its own workers here and hired four local employees, Alcoa spokeswoman Laurie A. Marr said previously.
The ironworkers are losing out because of CCCs selection, according to union Business Manager Robert J. Cole. He said he planned to continue the picketing until Alcoa reaches an agreement with the union providing more work for local labor. Mr. Cole had hoped to employ 32 ironworkers on that project for the next six months.
Mr. Cole said he had been in discussions with Alcoa and Fluor officials into this week but didnt see a resolution approaching.
Lets draw a line, he said. This is getting nowhere.
Hopefully we can try to resolve this issue and get my local members back to work so they can start providing for their families, he added.
Ms. Marr previously said CCCs bid was lower than the competitions by a significant margin.
Our goal remains to keep the plant as competitive as possible, she said Thursday. We do that by selecting the most qualified and cost-effective contractors.
St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council Chief Paul O. Thompson, an ironworker himself for decades, offered support at the picket. Ironworking provides a living for families both on and off the reservation, he said.
This whole facility was built on union hands. These guys coming from Texas are just taking the bread off our table, he said. Thats a hard pill to swallow, to have someone from Texas working on the project.
Other local unions have been contacted and may join the picket in coming days.
The union is a brotherhood. It doesnt matter what trade, Mr. Thompson said. They stick together.
Six crane operators of the Upstate New York Operating Engineers Local 158 opted not to cross the picket line Thursday in support of the ironworkers, according to union business representative William M. Shelly.
But work continued on the cast house roof project Thursday, Ms. Marr said. Fluor awarded the contract several weeks ago, and CCC staff will proceed with their work, she said. Its a big project and there are many aspects to it, she said in an email. Everyone who is on site is working.
Mr. Cole said next years potential modernization of the Massena facilities also was weighing on the ironworkers, who want to make sure they are selected for that project.
Thats in the back of our minds, he said. If its starting here today, then what about next year?
Ironworkers and their supporters may distribute fliers titled Does Alcoa Really Care About Our Community? at Mondays Solidarity Day parade in Massena.
Ronald P. McDougall, president of the Central Trades and Labor Council, said he understood a meeting between union and plant officials would take place soon.
Its troubling to everybody. Were not talking union or non-union, he said. Hopefully we can have a favorable resolution to this dispute by Labor Day.