Failing to reach a last-minute contract agreement, United Steelworkers members went on strike against Allegheny Technologies Inc. at 7 a.m. Tuesday.

The walkout affects 1,300 union workers at nine U.S. facilities, including 180 at the Washington Plate mill in Canton Township. This is the first strike at the Pittsburgh-based company since 1994.

USW announced on Friday that it planned to walk out Tuesday morning if a contract agreement was not reached. The two sides have been without a pact since Feb. 29, 2020, with work continuing through a one-year extension and the beginning of another. Negotiations, which started in January, are ongoing.

Union locals notified their negotiating committee on March 5 that they had voted “overwhelmingly” to authorize a strike.

The company will continue operating with temporary workers, Natalie Gillespie, ATI’s vice president of communications, said in a statement Tuesday morning.

She added that: “We remain dedicated to serving our customers and continuing to safely operate in the manner necessary to deliver our commitments with as little interruption as possible.

“We have activated our business continuity plan, deploying our non-represented employees and temporary replacement workers.”

Steelworkers at the Canton location were on the picket lines beginning at 7 a.m. Tuesday. One of them told the Observer-Reporter that 75 were on hand at the time. They will be on the lines around the clock, in groups of about a dozen.

Gillespie said this morning that “(Monday) night, we further improved our proposal in hopes of averting a work stoppage. With such a generous offer on the table – including 9% wage increases and premium-free health care – we are disappointed for this action, especially at such an economically challenging time for ATI.”

David McCall, USW International vice president (Administration) and chair of the union’s talks with ATI, said in a statement posted by the union today: “We are willing to meet with management all day, every day, but ATI needs to engage with us to resolve the outstanding issues. We will continue to bargain in good faith, and we strongly urge ATI to do start doing the same.”

Gillespie said the company “has diligently bargained in good faith throughout this entire process.”

Five of the nine U.S. locations are in Pennsylvania: Canton Township, Brackenridge, Latrobe, Natrona Heights and Vandergrift. ATI has about 50 locations worldwide, more than 30 of them in the United States.

Staff writer Mike Jones contributed to this report.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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