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Eramet, union fail to reach agreement

By Kevin Pierson, Special to The Times

The work stoppage at Eramet, Marietta, remains in place after officials with the company and the United Steelworkers Local 00639 failed to reach an agreement during a meeting that lasted roughly two hours Wednesday afternoon.

The two sides remain far apart on reaching a resolution to the stoppage, said Ethan Frank-Collins, human resources manager at Eramet.

“We met with the union and the situation basically remains the same. A large gap remains,” Frank-Collins said.

Union President Jim Deem agreed the two sides remain far apart.

During the meeting the union made a contract offer to Eramet that was rejected. Deem declined to give specifics on the contract until after speaking with the union’s international representative but said the union’s contract proposal offered concessions on three of the major sticking points in the negotiations — retirement, retiree insurance and pension.

“Everything that we offered would still be a concession. It just would not be as great as they’re asking for,” Deem said.

The company made no counter-offer and stands by what it calls its “last, best offer” which is already on the table, Frank-Collins said.

“We are open to continuing discussions with the union but our position is firm,” Frank-Collins said.

Deem said he is disappointed in the company’s refusal to move from their current position.

“The company is not willing to move an inch. We’ve moved on the issues that they wanted way past what we were asking to try to get some kind of move on their part and they won’t move at all,” Deem said.

For Eramet employee and union member Larry Woods, 55, of Marietta, the decrease in retirement benefits is the driving force behind the decision to reject Eramet’s proposed contract.

“I’ve got 27 years in with this company and with this plan it would cost me $1,100 a month in my retirement,” Woods said.

While the work stoppage, deemed a strike by the company and a lockout by the union, continues Eramet is using its 115 salaried employees and about 30 temporary workers to meet the demands of its customers with the possibility of hiring additional temporary workers.

“It’s certainly conceivable that if this strike were to continue that that number (of temporary workers) would grow over time,” Frank-Collins said.

Members of the union have offered to work under the terms of the expired contract but the company has rejected that offer.

Frank-Collins said he is hopeful that the two sides will reach an equitable agreement soon and return the union members to work but no additional contract meetings are currently scheduled.




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