Ten-Year Pact Saves Hundreds of West Coast Smelter Jobs

After more than a decade of negotiations, an aluminum smelter plant and the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) in Ferndale, WA, have reached a 10-year deal that will save 625 jobs at IAM Local 2379.

The BPA has agreed to provide Alcoa Intalco Works with enough power to keep the facility running through September 2022.

Although Alcoa’s operation is one of the most energy-efficient plants in the world, it uses large amounts of power to produce aluminum. The ordeal started in May 2001 when Alcoa’s long-term hydroelectric power contract ended, the cost of energy increased and the supply was uncertain. Ten other smelters in the region shut down and Intalco was one of two left.

Because of the power issue, the last eleven years have been plagued with plant startups, shutdowns, extensions, and negotiations with the power company – all while the jobs and lives of IAM members, their families and the entire community in which the aluminum factory supports hung in the balance. Alcoa is the third largest employer in Whatcom County with over 930 employees.

“I would like to thank our members working at Intalco for their never-ending determination over a decade to achieve a fair power agreement,” said IAM District Lodge 160 Directing Business Representative Dan Morgan.  “Their actions demonstrate what it means to be Fighting Machinists.”

“The results of the long and painstaking actions taken by the members of Local 2379 exemplify the ideals immortalized on the flag of our great Union, ‘Justice on the Job and Service to the Community,’”said IAM Western Territory GVP Gary Allen.  “I would like to personally thank all of the IAM members, stewards, and officers that took the actions necessary to save and secure the jobs that will allow the community of Ferndale, WA to flourish for years to come.”

“This is a victory that all of Whatcom County shares in,” said U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA). “I thank BPA, Alcoa and the Machinists for working in good faith through all the ups and downs. A 10-year agreement will allow Alcoa to make significant capital investments in its facilities to increase the efficiency of its already strong operation. It provides job security and ensures that Intalco will remain a cornerstone of Northwest Washington’s manufacturing economy.”

Company officials expect the deal to be finalized in early December. The agreement must undergo a public comment process through November 7.