Cuomo: Involuntary layoffs at Alcoa's Massena East would be breach of contract
Friday, January 17, 2014 - 2:44 pm

By ANDY GARDNER

MASSENA -- Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Thursday evening in which he expects Alcoa to honor the terms of its modernization contract with Albany and the New York Power Authority.

“The company is expected to honor the terms of its long-term power supply contract with NYPA,” the statement reads. “Involuntary layoffs at the Massena operation would be considered a breach.”

This includes continuing with modernization at the East plant, which Alcoa announced Wednesday would be closed and the remaining two potlines decommissioned and demolished.

The statement came following a meeting the same day in New York City between top officials with Cuomo’s office, NYPA and Alcoa.

“To be clear, we will hold Alcoa accountable to maintain the operation of the Massena West smelter and ensure the planned modernization of the Massena East facility proceeds without delay as required by the contract,” according to a statement from Cuomo’s office released Thursday.

But Alcoa is not saying how they plan to address the conflict. Christa Bowers, an Alcoa corporate spokesperson did not address the issue when asked on Thursday evening by North Country Now via email. She only addressed the meeting between Alcoa, NYPA and the governor’s office.

“We appreciate the cooperation of the NYPA leadership and other stakeholders who share our commitment to the North Country. We will continue to work with our unions, state, local and other stakeholders to minimize the impact of these changes and ensure our continued competitiveness at Massena West,” she wrote.

United Steelworkers Local 450 president David Leclair did not return phone calls seeking comment on Thursday’s statements. The union represents 264 laborers at Alcoa East.

Alcoa had committed to invest $600 million to modernize its Massena facilities and agreed to retain 900 jobs at both plants in exchange for 478 megawatts of cut-rate electricity from the St. Lawrence-Roosevelt power dam. The company announced last April that they were going to build a new potline at the east plant and spend $52 million on site work and support projects, in addition to $40 million already spent.