May 15, 2014 / 4:50 PM / 5 years ago

Alcoa, union at U.S. plants still apart in talks as deadline looms

May 15 (Reuters) - Negotiators for Alcoa Inc and unionized workers at 10 U.S. plants remained divided on several key issues on Thursday, including wages and healthcare premium increases, the union said less than 24 hours before the expiry of their labor contract.

At least four United Steelworkers’ locals have voted to give their negotiators the right to authorize a strike if a contract cannot be reached. The authorization does not mean the union will strike.

A previous contract between the Pittsburgh-based aluminum producer and the union expires at 12:59 am EDT on Friday. The union represents some 6,100 Alcoa employees at plants making aluminum and aluminum products for sectors including automotive, aerospace and consumer packaging.

“The main sticking points are health care premium increases, wage package and two tier benefits and pension packages for new hires,” said Ken Cox, financial secretary of USW local 115, which represents workers at Alcoa’s Lafayette, Indiana plant. The local has given its negotiators authorization to strike if needed.

The union has said it had “very modest” wage increases over the last two agreements.

Alcoa said on a website created for the talks that the two sides had reviewed proposals on “economics, benefits and language” on Wednesday.

Negotiations between the two sides began in Pittsburgh in April.

Union officials have said there are several options if a new contract cannot be reached before the deadline, including extending the current contract, workers going on strike, or the company locking out workers.

Alcoa’s share price was 3 percent lower at $13.14 on the New York Stock Exchange. (Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver and Cameron French in Toronto; Editing by Bernard Orr)

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