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Lockout nears end at Allegheny Technologies

Allegheny Technologies Inc. and the United Steelworkers have reached a tentative agreement to end a six-month lockout, but it could still be a while before everything is wrapped up.

Pittsburgh-based ATI makes specialty steel and components. The lockout has kept about 2,200 workers at 12 facilities in six states off the job since Aug. 15, including about 40 workers at a plant in Lockport.

The union is producing packets of information about the four-year deal for members, and it takes about a week to write, review and print the documents, said R.J. Hufnagel, a spokesman for the Pittsburgh-based union. After that, the documents have to be delivered to members, and informational meetings will be scheduled with members. Then members will vote on whether to ratify the deal, and the votes have to be tallied and reported.

“The whole process usually takes two weeks, maybe three,” Hufnagel said.

Another factor in this case: approval from the National Labor Relations Board. The NLRB earlier this month issued unfair labor practice complaints against ATI that must be resolved. Hufnagel said the tentative deal includes the union’s withdrawal of complaints related to the lockout. But the NLRB still has to review the agreement to ensure it is satisfied with the outcome of its case.

Leo W. Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers International, praised the tentative deal as “a tremendous victory for a very brave group of workers. They should be proud of this agreement, and of the resolve they demonstrated throughout this six-month ordeal. They showed us all the strength that we can have when we stand together in unflinching solidarity.”

Dan Greenfield, an ATI spokesman, declined to comment on the deal, saying it was still in the ratification stage. The union said it would share details of the agreement after it is ratified.

ATI has continued to operate its plants during the lockout with salaried employees and temporary workers. The company is coming off a $378 million loss in 2015. ATI has said it was hurt by continued weakness in the oil and gas market, as well as the global construction and mining equipment market.