RAVENSWOOD - The workers at Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood prepare to go back to work soon as the company plans to restart operations after a labor contract was approved this week.
Members of the United Steelworkers Local 5668 voted Wednesday to accept a new five-year contract from the company.
The contract provides employees with 2.5 percent pay raises each year, plus a $7,500 ratification bonus, according to a statement issued by the company Thursday. The contract calls for the transition to a 95/5 health care plan in 2013 that will pay for 95 percent of families' eligible charges.
Employees will not pay for health care premiums until 2017, and then at rates that are significantly less than half of the national average - $17.31 a week for family coverage, the company statement said.
"We believe the new contract provides a solid foundation on which we can continue to build Ravenwood's future," said Ravenswood CEO Kyle Lorentzen. "This five-year agreement provides employees with generous pay increases, families with affordable health care coverage, and the facility with much-needed control over runaway health care costs.
"We appreciate everyone's assistance in getting this contract approved."
Officials said the company will work with local union representatives on an orderly restart of normal operations at the Jackson County facility, which may take up to a week to complete.
Union officials have not released the final vote count, but had said some people were not happy with the outcome.
Meanwhile, the employment status of a couple of union members who were arrested Aug. 9 on charges resulting from rocks thrown at trucks and tires popped with "jackrocks" is not known.
State Police arrested Robert Mason Sullivan II, 49, Evans, and Michael Robert Fowler, 43, Mount Alto, on charges of felony destruction of property. Fowler also was charged with a misdemeanor battery charge.
During the first week of the strike, reports were made of trucks being damaged and an incident of one driver being injured when a thrown rock went through his windshield. His name and condition were never released.
Both charges against Fowler were dismissed in Jackson County Magistrate Court Tuesday, the magistrate clerk's office reported Thursday.
Sullivan was scheduled for a hearing this week before Magistrate Jackie Casto, but the hearing was continued to 1:45 p.m. Oct. 22.
However, no one is talking about what this incident will mean for either man's future with the company.
Company spokesman Laura Prisc said she was unable to comment on the matter.
"We don't discuss personnel issues," she said.
She referred questions about any other possible disciplinary action to the union's leadership.
Phone messages and emails left with union officials asking about the men's employment status, any disciplinary action taken by the union and whether the union was addressing these issues with the full membership were not returned to the News and Sentinel Thursday.
Christophe Villemin, president of Constellium's Global Aerospace, Transportation and Industry Division, said "the new five-year contract strongly positions Ravenswood for growth in core customer markets - particularly among our global aerospace customers."
U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said she was pleased both sides could find an agreement that allowed the workers to get back on the job.
"With 8 percent unemployment for 43 consecutive months, every singe job matters," she said. "I have been following negotiations closely and know that both sides worked diligently toward this goal.
"West Virginia is known for its dedicated workforce, and I am pleased that production at the Ravenswood facility will resume shortly."
Lorentzen acknowledged the struggles the community has gone through over the past several weeks and thanked it for its continued support throughout the process.
"We know the last several weeks have been difficult for many people throughout our communities, yet - with this contract's approval - we look forward to resuming our work in bringing growth back to Ravenswood," he said.
"As the largest employer in Jackson County, this facility is critically important because of the jobs we provide, the goods and services we buy, and the taxes we pay. We look forward to resuming the progress we were making earlier this year."