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Union official says no vote on Constellium offer

RAVENSWOOD, W.Va. -- A United Steelworkers official in West Virginia says striking workers at Constellium Rolled Products won't vote on the company's latest contract offer.

The company made the offer last week, two days after both sides met with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin in Charleston. Constellium says it expires at midnight Saturday.

Nathan Nelson, a unit president for United Steelworkers Local 5668, told WTAP-TV the union has notified the company it won't put the offer to a ratification vote. He declined to give a reason, saying "that's union business.''

Nelson didn't immediately return telephone messages Thursday, but the union's website indicates it has informational meetings with members scheduled for Friday.

Although Nelson says the union is willing to meet again, company spokeswoman Laura Prisc said Thursday morning that no meetings were scheduled.

She did not immediately comment on the union's decision not to vote on the latest offer but said a statement might be issued later in the day.

Constellium's aluminum rolling mill in Ravenswood is Jackson County's largest employer, with about 1,000 workers.

The strike, currently centered on proposed changes to health insurance, is in its fifth week. Constellium now pays 100 percent of workers' insurance premiums, but the new offer would require employees to pick up 5 percent of that.

The latest offer also includes a $7,500 signing bonus, $500 more than an earlier offer, as well as a 2.5 percent wage increase for each year of the contract. Workers currently make about $19 an hour, which the union says is less than peers at similar U.S. plants.

Ravenswood Mayor Michael Ihle told the Charleston Daily Mail he's spoken to union members, and he believes they should have the right to vote on the latest offer.

Constellium says it's lost money for 11 of the past 13 years and needs to reduce expenses.


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