CHARLESTON - Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says he's encouraged by a meeting aimed at ending a contract dispute between the United Steelworkers and Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood.
Representatives of both sides met Wednesday with Tomblin and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., in Charleston.
"First, I want to thank both parties for coming together today with an open mind and a common goal: to reach an agreement and end the work stoppage,'' Tomblin said. ''I do believe progress was made.
''At this point, the company has provided a revised offer to resolve the contract dispute and end the work stoppage. That offer now lies in the hands of the local union representative committee,'' Tomblin said.
More than 1,000 members of Local 5668 have been on strike in Jackson County since Aug. 5 when contract negotiations broke down. Union workers voted down an earlier five-year contract proposal in July.
Constellium has since dropped its demand that all employees enroll in the company's health plan.
Manchin compared both sides to a family with its share of differences, but the desire to work through them.
"I've always said that we're like family in West Virginia,'' he said. ''Sometimes families don't always agree, and that's when you sit down to work things out.
''And in the end - like all West Virginians - we come back together as a good family. All we've ever wanted is for everyone to be treated with fairness. My hope is that will happen sooner rather than later."
Union representatives did not return phone and email messages Thursday seeking comment on the meeting. Company officials said they were planning to release a statement Thursday, but it was not received by presstime.
Tomblin is hopeful these talks will get everyone back on track.
''I believe today's discussions reinforce both Constellium's and the union's commitment to bringing this matter to a resolution,'' he said. ''Again, I am encouraged by their dialogue.
''I will encourage the parties to keep working until a deal is done."