CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Striking union workers at Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood decided Friday not to vote on the latest offer from the company -- even though the international president of their union said workers should vote on it.
Constellium made the offer to about 700 members of United Steelworkers of America Local 5668 last week, after a meeting between union and company leaders called by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin.
Earlier this week, local union leaders said they wouldn't take the offer to a vote by workers. On Friday, though, workers attended three meetings at the local union hall to consider whether to vote on the offer.
"The membership voted today not to take the offer from the company back for a vote," Randy Moore, USW subdistrict director in West Virginia, said Friday evening. "There was a lot of discussion and debate today during seven and a half hours of meetings. There's still a lot of disagreement with the changes the company made in medical benefits."
The offer from the company expires Saturday.
According to earlier reports, Constellium wanted to reduce its share of the union workers' health insurance premiums from 100 percent to 95 percent.
The new offer also included a $7,500 signing bonus and a 2.5 percent wage increase for each year of the five-year contract. Constellium workers now make about $19 an hour, which the union says is less than workers at similar plants.
The workers went on strike Aug. 5.
Earlier Friday, Leo Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers union, told the Gazette-Mail that union workers at Constellium should be allowed to consider the company's latest offer.
"I believe that we're at the point in these negotiations and labor dispute where the members ought to have an opportunity to vote on what is on the table," Gerard said. "Clearly, after the governor called the parties together, there was movement on the issues. We're at a point now, after several weeks out on the picket line, where the members ought to get a chance to express their up or down vote on what is on the table.
"If they reject it, it is fine," he added. "If they accept it, it is also fine, because they are expressing their will."