Cases & Deals

Century Aluminum prevails in arbitration of violation of labor agreement

Clients Century Aluminum Company

On October 18, 2008, Arbitrator James Clair Duff issued an opinion and award denying a USW grievance that claimed that Century Aluminum violated the labor agreement by refusing to implement 12-hour shifts in the potroom at its Ravenswood, WV plant. The Arbitrator found that a condition precedent to implementing the 12-hour shift schedule was agreement on a departmental overtime agreement, which was never reached. Accordingly, the Company had no obligation to change the shift schedule.

Language was added to the labor agreement in 2006 that provided for staffing certain operations on a 12-hour shift schedule as an alternative to the 8-hour rotating shifts that were currently being used. While employees overwhelming voted in favor of 12-hour schedule, the union's local leadership balked, and refused to agree on an overtime agreement, which was a necessary predicate to implementation of the new shift schedule. Instead, it filed a grievance, claiming that the Company violated the labor agreement by not implementing the 12-hour shift schedule for all of the employees in the potline department, including eight individuals (less than one percent) who were previously on fixed shift schedules. The Company responded that there is no requirement that all employees move to the 12-hour schedule, that moving the eight individuals to 12-hour shifts would result in increased annual costs in excess of $1 million, and that the Union's unfounded insistence on that point was what prevented the parties from obtaining an overtime agreement. The independent arbitrator found that since there was no overtime agreement, the Company had no obligation to institute the 12-hour shift.

Century Aluminum Corporation of West Virginia and United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO-CLC