‘No meaningful progress’ made in Kaiser strike talks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 1999

By LEONARD GRAY / L’Observateur / April 14, 1999

GRAMERCY – “No meaningful progress” toward settling the six-month-old Kaiser Aluminum strike was made during four days of talks which ended last week.

Wayne Stafford, president of Local 5702, United Steelworkers of America, added a straw of hope, saying a union counter-proposal may be ready in three weeks.

“It’s no concessions, but we’ve got room to move in our proposal,” Stafford said.

Kaiser’s chief negotiator, Jeremy Sherman, underscored this lack of progress by saying, “One thing was accomplished in Denver – and that was confirmation that the size of the gap between the two parties remains huge.”Sherman commented: “The company is serious about bargaining in good faith toward a new labor agreement. To that end, the company deliveredsignificant resources in sending its entire team to Denver for the week to resolve this dispute, based upon the principles set forth in a comprehensive Dec. 17 proposal to the union. The union, however, remainsunwilling to accept any of the new proposals made by Kaiser on Dec. 17.”Kaiser president Ray Milchovich insisted the facilities have operating costs higher than those of many of their competitors, including Alcoa and Reynolds.

“There was a certain amount of disappointment,” Stafford said of the news from the Denver talks, adding no one was surprised at the lack of outcome “but you always hope.”Meanwhile, Stafford said, three strikers crossed the picket line prior to the Jan. 14 lockout but were dismissed when the lockout happened. Hecontinued that one of those has since returned as a salaried employee.

The union’s 3,100 steelworkers remain locked out of the facilities and man picket lines in Gramercy; Spokane, Wash.; Tacoma, Wash.; and Newark,Ohio.

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