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USW and Arconic reach tentative agreement as union workers rally

Not long after Local 105 members marched to Arconic with signs and chants, union leaders confirmed a deal had been made. It must now go through a voting process.

RIVERDALE, Ill. — UPDATE: New details on the tentative contract agreement reached between Arconic and the United Steelworkers Union on Saturday have been released.

USW Local 105 posted on Facebook Sunday morning saying that the four-year tentative contract would include a 7% raise the first year and 4.5% raises the next three years. Union workers' wages will increase a total of 20.5% by the end of the contract. It does not include any changes to health care benefits. It does include improved retirement and adds Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday. Union workers would also receive a $4,000 signing bonus, $2,000 upon signing and another $2,000 in January 2023.

The tentative contract ends pay-for-performance. Local 105 said it's instead "baked into those percentage raises."

"The hourly wage increases are to make up for the termination," Local 105 wrote on Facebook. "Wages are something we can count on in overtime and our vacation rate. We could never depend on PFP which is variable pay, to pay out. We can depend on our wages."

Details on ratification voting have not yet been released.

An Arconic spokesperson made the following statement to News 8 regarding the tentative agreement:

“We are pleased that Arconic and the United Steelworkers have reached a four year tentative agreement.  We believe this agreement accomplishes our goal of rewarding our employees for their commitment as essential workers while enabling our business to grow for future sustainability.”

ORIGINAL: Arconic union workers represented by the United Steelworkers Union, Local 105 brought their fight for a better contract to the manufacturing company's front doors Saturday, and not long after, the parties reportedly reached a tentative agreement.

According to a Local 105 union leader, Lee Shaffer, USW and Arconic reached a tentative agreement on Saturday, May 14.

The agreement will advance to a voting process, with officials saying that it will be carried out "at a date to be determined." Shaffer did not have any additional details.

A union member who also shared a USW statement with News 8, reading, "We've reached a Tentative Agreement w/Arconic that is fully endorsed by your bargaining committee. Thanks to everyone's solidarity and support, we achieved a fair deal! More details to come."

Earlier in the day, around 100 USW members marched from the union hall to Arconic's Davenport Works facility in Riverdale. USW and Arconic have been negotiating a new contract since April 26 in Pittsburgh, according to Shaffer. 

The rally comes after USW members across Arconic's four plants voted unanimously to authorize a strike.

The new contract will set wages and benefits for just under 3,400 employees at four Arconic plants. Arconic's largest plant is its Davenport Works facility in Riverdale. Of its nearly 2,400 workers, around 1,800 are members of Local 105. Arconic's other plants are in Lafayette, Indiana; Massena, New York, and Alcoa, Tennessee. USW members make up about 86% of workers in Indiana and about 78% in Tennessee and New York.

Shaffer says the union is fighting for an "Essential Workers Contract." Employees worked throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and were told they were essential workers. Now, they want to be treated as such.

"(Arconic) deemed us essential so we can come to work during the pandemic," Shaffer said. "Now it's, you know, pandemic's not as, I guess not as bad as it was, but now it's time to pay up."

The last contract between the USW and Arconic was signed in July 2019, following months of negotiations. Union workers held a similar rally after Arconic proposed health care and retirement benefit cuts, as well as proposed freezing pensions and replacing them with 401K plans.

The union is pushing for better pay, health care, and retirement, and wants longer contracts and to be more involved in Arconic's safety process. Workers are also upset with the amount of forced overtime and a lack of pension benefits increased in 2019.

Following the overwhelming yes vote for strike authorization, Shaffer did say they were preparing for the possibility of a strike. On Saturday, he said, they started cutting wood and getting burn barrels ready just in case.

Union representatives said the last time these particular USW members went on strike was in 1986 back when Arconic was Alcoa.

The manufacturing company is one of the top 10 employers in the Quad Cities. It is tied for eighth largest with Tyson.

News 8 will continue to update as more details become available.