Repairs at Alcoa’s West Plant in Massena are underway after a fire caused damage to one of their buildings last March. And while this is a great thing for the company, some local skill workers aren’t pleased, since they weren’t hired for the job. As our Cara Thomas reports, one union is expressing their opinion, by holding a protest.
MASSENA, N.Y. -- Dozens of local laborers have a bone to pick with Alcoa and through a protest, they’re hoping to get their point across. It was just a few weeks ago that a local ironworkers union found out they weren’t given a job they were expecting. A job to repair Alcoa’s cast house after it was damaged during the fire in March.
Robert Cole from Ironworkers Local 440 said, “I was hoping to put 32 ironworkers to work, local men back to work so they can start providing necessary needs for their families.”
Alcoa hired Fluor, a project management firm that awards construction projects to companies. And through a competitive bid process that occurred weeks ago, companies from around the country were chosen.
Laurie Marr, Alcoa's Spokesperson, said, “Our goal is to keep our two plants as competitive as possible and one of the ways we do that is by selected the most qualified and cost effective contractors to perform work that we need done on site.”
“Fluor subbed out the ironworkers work, that’s usually our work to an out of state company in Texas it’s called the CCC group and they brought up their own workers,” said Cole.
Protesters say the decision to hire a Texas company is not only taking jobs away from local workers, but they say it will affect the entire community.
Cole said, “The local labor provides an economic base here for the community. You know, they spend their money right here and we feel out of state workers they don’t, they just buy their hotel room and eat during the day then they’re gone.”
But Alcoa says they see things differently. Plant officials say being competitive is what keeps the jobs available for the 1,100 people that work at the plant. They say while some people were hired out of state, many are from the local area.
“Since the fire on March 29th we’ve had more than 100 contract workers on site helping us rebuild and a vast majority of those people have been employed from the local area,” said Marr.
Local skill workers say they hope Alcoa will choose to use their unions in the future, especially for their upcoming $600 million modernization project.
Unions say they plan to protest until some kind of agreement can be made with Alcoa. More unions are expected to be coming on Monday to join in.