EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSCONSTELLIUM STRIKE
from Eyewitness News Online
Workers Speak Out About Major Strike; Healthcare Changes At Heart Of Decision
Reported by: Kallie Cart
Videographer: John Tincher
Web Producer: Kallie Cart
Reported: Aug. 7, 2012 8:09 PM EDT
Ravenswood , Jackson County , West Virginia
Workers remain on the picket line in Ravenswood in Jackson County, W.Va. Nearly 700 employees from Constellium Rolled Products, have been on strike since Sunday morning and up until this point, we have heard very little from the union leadership on the decision to strike. But on Tuesday they broke their silence.
"That insurance we feel we have paid for every year, every contract," United Steelworkers Union Contract Negotiator Randy Moore told a packed union hall Tuesday morning.
He says the union agreed to keep the contract negotiations as private as possible and out of the media but says Constellium has forced them to speak out. Moore says the strike all comes down to their health care. Workers say since 1994 they have given up pay raises and made other concession to keep their health care, covered 100% by the company.
But Constellium's plan was to make changes to the health care plan and require employees to pay into premiums by 2015, in addition to slight wage increases, an offer the company says is fair. But the union says the company isn't telling the whole story.
"They failed to tell you that they went around behind the backdoor and put a cost sharing mechanism in it," Moore says.
The offer wasn't presented to the union members to vote on because Moore says the negotiating committee received an overwhelming vote of confidence to refuse any offer from the company that changed employee healthcare. When the last offer was presented with healthcare changes, it was immediately rejected and the nearly 700 workers hit the picket line. A decision leaders and workers say the company forced them to make.
"There's no one who wants to be out here on the strike," Moore says. "If we don't we keep getting shoved further and further and closer and closer to the bottom."
Moore says they're ready to go back to the bargaining table as soon as Constellium is ready.
Constellium says its disappointed that the offer was rejected and says the union has refused to make a counter proposal. The company says the healthcare costs have been increasing about 8% each year.
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