CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Striking union workers at Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood have decided they will vote on the latest offer from the company later this week.
Leo Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers union, said Saturday afternoon that Local 5668 will hold four meetings Tuesday to explain details of the new five-year contract proposed by Constellium to 700 union members working at the plant.
The union will then hold a secret ballot Wednesday, Gerard said, in which all members will be able to vote on whether to accept or reject the new contract.
Gerard told the Gazette-Mail that these plans were made Saturday, "following a lengthy discussion between the local union committee, the international union staff and myself."
The union began its walkout on Aug. 5, after it could not reach an agreement for a new contract with Constellium negotiators. Major disagreements developed over company efforts to reduce health-care benefits to its workers.
The company said its latest offer includes a $7,500 bonus for each worker when the contract is signed and a 2.5 percent annual pay raise.
On Friday, Local 5668 held three meetings at its union hall near Ravenswood to explain the contract to its members.
"Friday's meetings were supposed to be informational meetings," Gerard said. "Then there was a motion by one member on the floor to take a vote on whether or not to vote on the contract. That was spontaneous."
The Gazette-Mail reported Saturday that union members were not going to vote on the proposed contract.
Gerard, however, said that changed Saturday.
"To make sure everything is clear," he said, "the union has decided to hold four comprehensive informational meetings on Tuesday" before a secret vote on Wednesday.
Gerard said the union hall was too small to accommodate all 700 members who work at Constellium during Friday's three meetings. As a result, 200 workers did not attend.
The four meetings on Tuesday, Gerard said, "will give the full local membership sufficient time to attend" and "an opportunity to learn about the contract.
"On Wednesday, they will have a secret ballot to vote on the company's offer. This was a unanimous decision of the local union bargaining committee," he said Saturday. "They made that decision today.