United Steelworkers of America Local 9423 ratified a five-year contract with Century Aluminum around 9 p.m. on Friday.

Andy Meserve, president of the local, said the union had been negotiating with the company for five weeks.

The contract actually ended on April 1, he said, but the deadline was extended for two weeks.

Meserve said the union won pay increases each year plus more company contributions to the pension fund.

He said he didn’t want to say what the vote was, “but it passed.”

A new apprenticeship program for maintenance workers through Owensboro Community & Technical College was also included in the contract, Meserve said.

The local has 380 members currently, he said.

Century’s website says, “Hawesville is our largest U.S. smelter and is the largest producer of high purity primary aluminum in North America. Four of Hawesville’s five potlines are capable of producing high purity aluminum which is sold at a premium to standard-grade aluminum and is used extensively by the defense industry as well as for aerospace and other applications.”

The site says that the aluminum from the Hawesville plant is used “in the United States’ national security efforts and is used in defense applications such as the F-16, Airbus, naval war vessels, 747 airplanes and the International Space Station.”

In 2015, Century announced that it planned to idle its Hawesville smelter if the aluminum market didn’t improve by the end of October.

And 565 people stood to lose their jobs.

It decided instead to idle three of its five potlines that year and laid off about 350 people.

But in 2018, after then-President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on foreign aluminum, the company began reopening the plant.

Meserve said four of the five potlines are working now and the company is continuing to hire workers.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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