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United Steelworkers of America Announces New Round of Talks Scheduled in Kaiser Aluminum (NYSE: KLU) Lock Out.

CHICAGO, Dec. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- At the conclusion of a one-day bargaining session between the United Steelworkers of America and Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, the USWA announced that a new round of bargaining had been scheduled for the week of January 10-14, 2000 in Washington, DC. Both the USWA and KACC will expand their negotiating teams in the week-long talks.

Kaiser Aluminum will be represented by its newly appointed CEO Ray Milchovich while the USWA team will be supplemented by former General Counsel and Special Assistant Bernie Kleiman and Ron Bloom, Assistant to USWA President George Becker.

David Foster, Chairman of the USWA Kaiser Negotiating Committee, said, "While significant differences exist between the parties, I hope that the expansion of both negotiating teams will at least allow Kaiser and the USWA to take a fresh look at both the causes of and solutions to this labor dispute. Former USWA General Counsel Bernie Kleiman is one of the most experienced and constructive labor negotiators in the country. He has played a pivotal role in crafting the solutions to most of the toughest disputes in the history of our union."

During the negotiations held on December 14, 1999, the USWA presented Kaiser with a new proposal on retiree health insurance, one of several key issues in the dispute. The USWA's new proposal took a major step toward resolving two of Kaiser's main concerns with the current program of retiree benefits -- the cost of prescription drugs and use of Medicare risk HMO's.

The USWA proposed to establish a formulary for prescription drugs that would guide plan participants to the most effective and cost competitive treatment while still maintaining access to necessary brand-name drug therapies. The union's proposal also included an aggressive incentive program through which retirees who joined Medicare-risk HMOs to receive their health insurance benefits would split the demonstrated cost savings with Kaiser on a 50-50 basis.

Cary Burnell, USWA benefits' technician, said, "Our analysis shows that Kaiser could save as much as $2.5 million per year through the voluntary enrollment of retirees in Medicare-risk HMOs. By sharing these cost-savings with Kaiser retirees the union has developed a win-win solution to the problem of escalating health care costs."

USWA members struck Kaiser Aluminum in response to the company's unfair labor practices and substandard contract offer on September 30, 1998, and offered to return to work on January 13, 1999. On January 14, 1999, the company locked out over 2,900 USWA members at its plants in Gramercy, Louisiana, Newark, Ohio, and Tacoma and Spokane, Washington.
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 16, 1999
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