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Alcoa, USW say awaiting call to return to bargaining table for ABI smelter lockout

Louisville, Kentucky — Alcoa and Canada's United Steelworkers union are awaiting a call from a special mediator to return to the bargaining table in hopes of ending an eight-month lockout at the 450,000 mt/year Aluminerie de Becancour aluminum smelter in Quebec, company and union officials said Friday.

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During a Thursday meeting in Pittsburgh, the special mediator, Lucien Bouchard, said he would summon negotiators back to the table, although no specific timetable was given, according to Clairandree Cauchy, spokeswoman for the Syndicat des Metallos/USW in Quebec.

A former Quebec premier, Bouchard could not be reached for comment Friday.

The union requested the meeting to find a way to resolve the longstanding labor dispute and lockout involving more than 1,000 hourly workers at the smelter.

"What's clear is this labor dispute will resolve with bargaining," Cauchy told S&P Global Platts in an interview. "There is no way to get rid of the workers."

Alcoa spokesman Jim Beck said his company is always "willing to discuss the steps needed to improve ABI, and the meeting yesterday was a constructive step in the goal of reaching a new collective agreement that can position the facility for long-term success."

Alcoa owns 75% of the smelter, with Rio Tinto controlling the remaining 25%.

--Bob Matyi, newsdesk@spglobal.com

--Edited by Richard Rubin, richard.rubin@spglobal.com