Courtesy of ATI

In this file photo from 2020, metal slabs made at ATI’s Canton Township facility are packaged and ready to be shipped.

More than a year after their contract ran out, members of the United Steelworkers said they have have voted “overwhelmingly” to authorize a possible strike against Allegheny Technologies Inc.

Union locals representing about 1,300 workers, including an estimated 200 at the Washington Plate mill in Canton Township, voted on Friday to authorize their negotiating committee to take that action, according to a USW statement. The two sides have been negotiating a contract proposal.

The union said in the statement: “We urge ATI to return to the table and negotiate in good faith rather than engage in unfair labor practices, and to demand unnecessary and unfair concessions from workers who have not had a wage increase since 2014.

“It is clearly in the best interest of everyone to resolve the outstanding issues through collective bargaining without a work stoppage, but ATI must change its approach before we can achieve a fair contract.

“After two months of dragging its feet at the table and suggesting that USW members ‘work overtime’ to pay for proposed increases to health insurance costs, management clearly needs a reminder that workers are united against the company’s demands.

Natalie Gillespie, vice president of communications for the Pittsburgh-based company, said in an email that “while we’re disappointed our employees have authorized a strike, we continue to work hard to reach resolution. As we’ve stated all along, our goal is to maintain stability for our employees, our customers and our business.

“We do not want a work stoppage. We continue operating to meet our commitments to customers and avoid disruption to our employees and their families.”

She added that “under ATI’s offer, employees will be better off financially in every year of a proposed four-year contract.”

Gillespie said the contract between ATI and the Steelworkers expired Feb. 29, 2020, after which both sides agreed to operate under a one-year extension. That ended nine days ago, and she said another extension is in place.

The 1,300 affected union members work at nine locations, including five in Pennsylvania: Canton Township, Brackenridge, Latrobe, Natrona Heights and Vandergrift and Washington. The other sites are in Lockport, N.Y.; Louisville, Ohio; New Bedford, Mass.; and Waterbury, Conn.

ATI has about 50 locations worldwide, with more than 30 of them in the United States.

The company announced in December that it was implementing a restructuring plan that entailed breaking away from standard stainless-steel production to focus more on advanced alloys products for its aerospace and defense customers, a more profitable endeavor.

ATI also said at the time it planned to cut 400 jobs nationwide, more than 100 of them in Southwestern Pennsylvania, but none at Washington Plate.

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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