CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- About 700 production and maintenance workers, members of the United Steelworkers of America, went on strike against Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood just after midnight Sunday.
Constellium, in a statement released shortly after the strike began, said the "union negotiating committee's continued refusal to allow employees to vote on [the] contract [is] 'unfortunate,' given generous proposals presented by the company."
On July 26 and 27, local union workers overwhelmingly voted against the company's earlier proposal for a five-year contract.
After the vote, Constellium and the USW began renewed negotiations in Charleston, which broke off Wednesday.
"The parties have been in negotiations since late May for a new collective bargaining agreement," Constellium stated in its news release. "The parties had returned to the negotiating table late Saturday at the request of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, but their discussions failed to resolve the ongoing deadlock."
A man who answered the telephone at the USW Local 5668 union hall near Ravenswood Sunday afternoon said, "I am not in a position to give you any information. I could not tell you when it would be available."
Jason Miller, president of USW Local 5668 in Ravenwood, previously said he does not want to debate the new contract in the media.
Randy Moore, a subdistrict director for the USW in West Virginia, could not be reached for comment Sunday.
Karen Gorrell, whose husband worked at Century's Ravenswood plant for 33 years, has led efforts by Century retirees to win back health benefits they lost after Century closed its plant in February 2009.
On Sunday, Gorrell said, "I don't think I have anything to say [about the Constellium contract details] on the record, but I told the president of the local that I don't think they should have gone on strike.
"I know that health insurance was the big battle with Constellium. My understanding is that they are not after the retirees' insurance. They are more after the workers' insurance, wanting to reduce their benefits."
On March 15, Century reached an agreement with its retirees and their spouses, led by Gorrell, to restore some of the health benefits taken away from them after that plant closed.
Century is still working to reopen its plant, which is directly adjacent to the Constellium plant along the banks of the Ohio River in Jackson County.
Century wants Appalachian Power to cut its electricity rates to facilitate the plant's reopening. Those cuts could shift some of those costs to other APCO consumers.