Kaiser and USWA Reset Negotiations as Unfair Labor Claims go to Trial

“Talks recently broken off between the United Steelworkers of America and Kaiser Aluminum are now set to resume Wednesday, May 10 in Houston.News of the resumption of negotiations to end the 15-month-old labor dispute follows on the heels of the dismissal of 22 of 24 unfair labor practice claims filed against Kaiser with the National Labor Relations Board.The two remaining claims to be referred for trial pertain to the January 1999 lockout of union employees, and could have serious implications for the company, according to the USWA.The union has said the NLRB will charge that the lockout violated U.S. labor laws, and one possible remedy would be for Kaiser to compensate locked out workers with full back pay and benefits.Kaiser’s potential back-pay liability is currently over $270 million, and it continues to grow by nearly one half million dollars per day, said David Foster, director of USWA District 11 and chair of the union’s Kaiser negotiating committee. The union is continuing to call for creation of a Good Corporate Citizenship Clause in contracts for low-cost federal power from the Bonneville Power Administration. The clause would require demonstration of a law-abiding record to receive lower cost power from the BPA.Kaiser was recently fined over half a million dollars by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration for violations of MSHA safety standards and impeding the agency’s investigation into an explosion at the company’s Gramercy, Louisiana alumina refinery. Kaiser is appealing the fines.Company officials have said they are confident the unfair labor charges being brought to trial will be dismissed.”