Hundreds of workers in Huntington will be able to go back to work at Special Metals, after four days of uncertainty. United Steelworkers Local 40 members voted to ratify a new contract agreement with the company on Monday.
Brian Wedge, a staff representative for United Steelworkers, said the Special Metals employees will be able to go back to a work as soon as Monday night.
Earlier this afternoon, Special Metals made a proposal and brought it to USW Local 40. Both parties have reached a tentative agreement.
Today marks day 3 since the lockout that began Friday afternoon, when a few hundred employees were asked to put their equipment away, leave the premises, and not come back until further notice.
Many employees upset, angry, and just downright confused.
Special Metals Employee, Scott Caserta said, “for 24 years I’ve been getting up, putting on my hard hat, and walking through those gates whether with or without a cup of coffee, usually with a cup. I don’t want to miss anymore work. I’m just like everybody else, I got to make money and pay the bills and feed the family.”
However, employees feeling hopeful. Local 40 said they’ll host an informational meeting at 1:30 pm tomorrow at the Union Hall, and right after that, employees will vote on the new proposal.
Honking cars are a boost of hope outside Special Metals, as hundreds of employees are left questioning their job security on day two of a company lockout.
“We have families to feed; we have bills to pay,” said Don Chafin, a refinery employee at Special Metals. “Nobody wants to be without a job.”
Workers were sent home at noon on Friday, as contract negotiations stalled between union representatives from United Steelworkers Local 40 and Special Metals. The contract officially expired overnight, and as of Saturday, employees still hadn’t heard an official update.
“It was kind of a shock,” said Chafin. “We’re still sitting around scratching our heads, wondering what’s going on and why this was done. Business is good. We’ve got orders that we need to get out to the customers and we’re sitting around wasting time needlessly.”
The outpouring of community support has gone beyond just drivers honking as they pass by. Stewarts Hot Dogs brought by free hot dogs, community members dropped off pizzas, and teachers dropped off water bottles.
“It’s moral support you know,” said Chafin. “It’s your community saying, ‘We’re with you. Hang in there.’ It’s a positive vibe and we need that right now.”
The last update on Friday from the parent company of Special Metals, Precision Castparts Corp., said they were continuing negotiations “in good faith,” but they have not responded with an update since then. However, guards have been placed at the Special Metals gate.
“We would rather be back in there working, doing what we have to do, instead of being out here,” said Chafin.
13 News also reached out to the Local 40 union and they were unable to provide an update.