United Steelworkers approve strike possibility against Arconic

Members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 105, Bettendorf, unanimously approved a strike authorization in voting Thursday, May 12, the union announced on Facebook. 

“105 is a unanimous yes for strike authorization for all times!!” the USW posted on its Facebook page early Thursday night.

The decision gives the union the authority to go on strike against Arconic, should ongoing contract talks break down. 

Lee Shaffer, Local 105 guide, sent the QCBJ this statement Friday morning: “USW Local 105 here in Davenport and the other three master locations all had outstanding turnouts for the strike authorization vote. All four locations voted unanimously to give the International Union authority to call for a strike if the Union and Arconic can not come to an agreement.”

Scores of union members voted during six voting sessions held throughout the day at the Isle of Capri Conference Center in Bettendorf. 

The vote does not mean the union will strike, but it does “authorize a strike against Arconic should we be unsuccessful in reaching an agreement that is acceptable to the USW,” Local 105 posted online last weekend.

“Approving strike authorization is a normal step in the bargaining process,” John Riches, Arconic Davenport Works’ communications and public affairs manager, said in an emailed statement Thursday night. “We believe we can reach an agreement that is in the best interest of our employees and look forward to continuing negotiations at the bargaining table.” 

The company and union have been in negotiations meeting in Pittsburgh since Tuesday, April 26. Their current three-year labor contract, approved in 2019, is set to expire Sunday, May 15.

The union also announced on Facebook that it is planning to walk from the Bettendorf union hall to rally outside the plant on Friday, May 13, at 4:30 p.m.

Earlier this week, Mr. Shaffer told the QCBJ that the goal is not to strike, but to get a fair contract from the company. Currently, contract talks continue, but are going a “little slower than we would like,” he said.

“I’m hopeful (a new contract will be approved.) This is the way it always seems to go; it goes down to the last minute,” Mr. Shaffer added.

The union includes workers with USW Local 105, Bettendorf, who are employed at Arconic Davenport Works. The plant, located in Riverdale, is one of the Quad Cities region’s largest employers. Local 105 includes about 1,750 union workers at Davenport Works, according to information from the union.

In addition to Davenport Works, the contract covers union workers at three other Arconic locations — Lafayette, Indiana; Massena, New York; and Alcoa, Tennessee. The union indicated earlier that bargaining was expected to focus on wages and benefits.

The union also represents workers at Arconic, Sivyer Steel and Bowe Machine.

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