RAVENSWOOD - A strike could be coming for the workers at Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood.
Workers, represented by the United Steelworkers Local Union 5668, recently voted to reject a five-year contract offer from the company. The union represents nearly 700 workers.
Steelworkers local spokesman Randy Moore said the union issued a 72-hour notice to terminate a temporary contract extension.
He said if the company doesn't budge, a strike is "more than likely."
Representatives at the offices for Local 5668 said an official statement on their intentions will be issued today.
Company officials with Constellium said they are disappointed the union has responded to the company's latest offer by canceling the parties' contract extension and threatening to strike.
"As we said when we presented the latest offer, the proposal provides employees real economic benefit while ensuring their families still have quality, affordable health care benefits," CEO Kyle Lorentzen said in a press release issued by the company. "In addition to increasing the economic benefits for employees, we offered to delay much-needed changes to our health care so that employees do not begin paying monthly premiums until 2015.
''We believe this is a good compromise, but it is unfortunate that the union refuses to even present it to the employees."
The company's proposal includes wage adjustments, annual pay increases and an immediate $7,000 ratification bonus that totals more than $30,000 per person on average, plus additional economic incentives like increases in life insurance amounts and sickness and accident benefits, and pension benefit improvements.
The offer introduces a new 90/10 health care plan beginning in 2014, with hourly employees paying monthly premiums in 2015 at rates about half of the national average, officials said. Employee costs associated with the new health care plan are projected to average about $7,000 over the five-year contract, meaning the average employee will realize a net gain from the contract of more than $23,000.
The company's health care costs are two-and-a-half times more than the national average - costing the company more than $18,000 per hourly employee a year, versus the national average of about $7,500 and continue to hamper the facility's economic recovery, Lorentzen said.
The facility continues to operate unprofitably, posting losses in 11 of the last 13 years.
"For a facility that has struggled and suffered significant losses in recent years, we believe this is a very reasonable offer," Lorentzen said. "We know that change is difficult, but a strike would be very devastating, particularly for families and our community. It is unfortunate that the union is taking this path."
The company's plan is about making the Ravenswood facility "cycle-proof" and viable even in the most difficult economic times, officials said.
''The success of the plan will depend on all of us working together toward common goals,'' Lorentzen said.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has been watching the situation develop through the negotiation process, staying in touch with management and the union representatives.
''A successful resolution to these negotiations is extremely important to Jackson County's economy, the over 1,000 workers employed by Constellium, and the entire state of West Virginia,'' he said. ''I strongly encourage both parties to continue working together to reach an agreement.
''It is imperative that the plant continue operating, and I certainly hope that a work stoppage does not occur. I am committed to working with all those involved, and I am hopeful an agreement can be reached in the coming days."
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)