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Striking Constellium workers to get benefits

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CHARLESTON (AP) — Hundreds of workers at the Constellium aluminum plant near Ravenswood who went on strike for nearly seven weeks earlier this year will receive unemployment compensation benefits, a review panel ruled Monday.

The three-member state Labor Dispute Tribunal ruled that the striking workers could receive the benefits because there was not a work stoppage at the plant during the standoff, Courtney Sisk, a state government spokeswoman, told The Charleston Daily Mail reports.

The strike began Aug. 5 and ended the following month when United Steelworkers Local 5668 members ratified a five-year contract. Under the new contract, workers will receive annual 2.5 percent pay raises, along with a $7,500 ratification bonus. Workers also will have to pay 5 percent of their health care premiums, beginning in 2017.

The union represents about 700 of 1,000 employees at the Jackson County plant.

"It's good news, especially right here amongst the holidays," union president Jason Miller said. "We're excited about it."

State law allows workers involved in a labor dispute to file a claim for unemployment compensation. WorkForce West Virginia representatives went to the armory in Millwood on Aug. 21, and 570 Constellium workers applied for benefits. Employees who did not file a claim then were able to do so later at any state unemployment compensation claims office.

Monday's decision comes after a two-day hearing last month by the panel, which was appointed by the state Unemployment Compensation Board of Review. The unemployment benefits fund is financed by a tax on employers.

The company could appeal the panel's decision, which would send it to the Kanawha Circuit Court.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press

 

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