Steelworkers, Kaiser going back to table

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 6, 1999

L’Observateur / October 6, 1999

GRAMERCY – United Steelworkers of America announced Monday the that strike talks with Kaiser Aluminum are set to resume Oct. 14-15.The announcement came four days after the one-year anniversary of the walkout, which affected five Kaiser plants, including the alumina processing plant in Gramercy.

The labor dispute began with the Sept. 30, 1998 walkout. The unionclaimed unfair labor practices and a number of job security, economic and benefit issues, including out-sourcing many present jobs which could result in a massive layoff.

After the union made an unconditional offer to return to work while talks continued, Kaiser locked out the strikers on Jan. 14.The USWA represents 2,900 steelworkers in Spokane and Tacoma, Wash.,Newark, Ohio, and Gramercy.

In a related announcement, USWA announced that Pepsi will stop buying Kaiser-produced aluminum, citing a boycott of Pepsi products by union members.

In an Oct. 1 letter to USWA District 11 director David Foster, PepsiBottling Group’s director of public relations, Larry Jabbonsky, commented: “In actuality, PBG does not have a signed supply agreement with Kaiser.

This letter confirms that our current commitments do not extend beyond the end of this year, and we will not be buying can sheet from Kaiser in 2000. I hope you will give due consideration to these facts and put an endto your call for a Pepsi boycott, which has caused undue disruption to our business.”Foster told steelworkers afterward, “We call on all other customers and users of Kaiser aluminum to follow Pepsi’s lead and stop using Kaiser metal until this unnecessary labor dispute has ended.”The boycott campaign included phoning, leaflets, postcards, bumper stickers and other consumer-outreach efforts.

Jabbonsky added in his letter to Foster: “First, neither PBG nor Pepsi-Cola Co. is a party to this dispute. In fact, we take no position in this matterother than to support a timely and fair resolution for the parties involved.”He pointed out that PBG currently fills cans made with Kaiser aluminum in only five markets.

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