As Layoffs Begin at Alcoa Intalco, Machinists Continue Fight to Save Aluminum Jobs

The IAM is engaged at all levels to find solutions to save IAM jobs at a Ferndale, WA aluminum smelter, the last remaining such facility in the western U.S. and one of only seven left in the nation. Roughly 600 IAM Local 2379 (District 160) members stand to lose their jobs by the end of July.

The closing of the Alcoa Intalco Works plant would further exacerbate U.S. reliance on foreign aluminum. While China, which as for decades dumped cheap aluminum on the U.S. market, boasts approximately 150 aluminum smelters and produces 44 million tons per year, the U.S. produces only 1.8 million tons per year.

U.S. dependence on foreign aluminum has become apparent during the COVID-19 crisis, when high-quality aluminum has been needed quickly to manufacture ventilators, hospital beds and other vital medical equipment. The plant also produces aluminum used in the manufacturing, aerospace and automotive industries.

Pittsburgh-based Alcoa has maintained its decision to close the plant is final, despite the IAM’s mobilization of local and state elected officials, including Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee. The IAM has also raised the issue with President Trump, demanding that the White House use all means necessary to save the strategically important plant.

“In addition to making sure our members receive all assistance possible during this closure, we have not given up on saving these jobs and this critically important industry,” said IAM International President Robert Martinez Jr. “Our union has long held that as a nation we must do everything possible to support domestic manufacturing. We cannot rely on importing critical supplies like aluminum, especially during times of conflict or national emergencies.

“Together with our partners in this effort, we will continue to explore a new buyer for the Alcoa Intalco facility,” continued Martinez. “With cooperation on the local, state and federal levels, I believe we can make the necessary policy changes to make this plant attractive to another company with an interest in working with the IAM to produce aluminum right here at home.” 

“When a plant like this one closes it’s a blow to the whole nation,” said General Vice President Gary R. Allen. “Even more upsetting is the lack of interest by this administration even though they ran on a platform that promised to fight to keep plants and jobs here in our country.”