USW rallies outside Arconic in Lafayette for fair contract

Arconic and United Steelworkers are in the final hours of negotiating a new labor contract.

Posted: May. 15, 2019 4:16 PM
Updated: May. 15, 2019 6:29 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — United Steelworkers in Lafayette hope a fair deal is reached by the 11:59 p.m. deadline Wednesday.

USW Local 115 invited the public to rally outside Arconic Wednesday as new contract negotiations continue.

The event was complete with food, signs, and some shelter from the sun.

Megan Cornell is a single mom of two kids.

She said this contract is her livelihood so, she made sure to be there at the rally. 

"I'm hoping that they understand what we deserve and that we are here for them all of the time and they should be here for us so that we can continue to support our families," said Cornell. 

As News 18 has previously reported, USW said Arconic wants to cut pensions and health care benefits.

Ben Hewitt is a second generation United Steelworker with a side gig. He and his wife own a food truck but haven't had much time to operate it. He said that is because Arconic is making his department work one extra 12 hour shift per week.

"A lot of guys are really burnt out, really tired right now," said Hewitt. 

Arconic and USW are in the final hours of negotiating a new labor contract. Hewitt is donating his truck so people can eat while they rally for a fair deal. Cornell hopes this doesn't turn into a strike. 

"I've been preparing for like two months now just in case, rather be ahead than behind," said Cornell. 

USW called bargaining "slow and difficult" this week. Hewitt just wants Arconic to keep things the way they are.

"Same contract or a similar contract, we have really good benefits," explained Hewitt. 

"I don't want to lose my benefits or be struggling to support my kids and myself and lose everything I've worked for," added Cornell. 

Hewitt is worried about how proposed retirement changes would affect his father who has worked at Arconic for 40 yeaars.

"He's getting ready to potentially retire in October and this could affect the outcome of his pension," said Hewitt. 

Even if you don't have friends or family working at Arconic, Hewitt said United Steelworkers contribute to the local economy.

"Shops, small businesses, restaurants, anything like that," said Hewitt. 

We reached out to Arconic for comment on this story but did not hear back Wednesday. On Tuesday, Arconic sent this statement, "Arconic is continuing to negotiate in good faith with our USW counterparts to reach a fair contract."

USW and Arconic could reach a deal at any time but the deadline is 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

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