Unionizing throughout Alcoa
Bringing together Alcoa's global union network the day before the company's annual shareholders' meeting paid dividends for workers. Alcoa's Chairman and CEO Klaus Kleinfeld met with union leaders and committed to improving dialogue with unions including the global network.
USA: Developing an action plan that works is one of the major challenges for any trade union network. The Alcoa network appears to have a mechanism that is bringing results. By holding its network meetings prior to the annual shareholders' meeting the unions have been able to establish a forum to meet with Alcoa executives. In additionto attending the network meeting, unions also attended the shareholders' meeting where they reported on their initiative.
A series of side meetings with Alcoa executives also took place to try and resolve some ongoing concerns of unions. One such example is Alcoa's review and possible closure of the Point Henry Smelter in Australia. Trade union leaders from the Australian Workers' Union (AWU) questioned Alcoa's CEO during the network meeting and subsequently met with executives to discuss the future of the plant. AWU Delegate Brett Noonan from Point Henry also asked for a commitment from Alcoa to support the plant from the floor of the shareholders meeting. The AWU hopes that this pressure will encourage Alcoa executives to rethink their strategy and find a workable solution with local unions to secure the long term future. Other concerns raised by the network included union recognition rights in Brazil.
Alcoa is the world's largest aluminum company it has 61,000 employees across 31 countries. Aluminum is a growth industry and in 2011 global demand increased by 10 per cent. In particular Alcoa has benefitted from developing new products to meet demand in the aerospace and the auto industry. But despite its success employment has been cut dramatically from the 142,000 direct employees who were in the company in 2000.
The global network also expressed its support for the organizing activities being carried in Howmet, Norfolk and Traco in Cranberry in the United States. The global network has committed to supporting both of these activities and informed Alcoa executives that they will closely monitor the situation during the organizing drives.
Rob Johnston Executive Director stated, "Alcoa is a unionized company and it should be proud of that fact. If workers in a non-union plant decide to organize and join the majority then we have a responsibility to support them in their decision."
The global union network meeting was attended by 40 participants from 10 countries.May 07, 2012 – Rob Johnston