MASSENA The ironworkers picket outside Alcoas Massena operations entered its second week Thursday, gaining support from other unions and federal, local and St. Regis Mohawk Tribal officials along the way.
Ironworkers Local 440 is picketing Alcoa for letting a Texas firm, which is bringing in its own workers, repair the roof at the Massena West plant that was damaged in a March fire. CCC Group of San Antonio brought 24 of its own workers here and hired four local employees, Alcoa spokeswoman Laurie A. Marr said previously.
That drew the ire of Local 440, which had planned to put 32 of its own to work there. Two inflatable rats rose above the pickets as they continued their protest Thursday; motorists driving by on County Route 42 honked horns to show support.
Our people are starving up here, said Loren R. Fitzgerald, an ironworker for 4½ years. Its sad that Alcoa would let this go on.
Robert J. Cole, Local 440 business manager, had proposed a project labor agreement to Alcoa last week that would send some of CCCs staff home and employ more of Local 440.
Mr. Cole previously had reached out to Rep. William L. Owenss office for support. Mr. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, said he had requested Alcoa use as much local labor as possible to complete repairs soon after the fire, and has since expressed his concerns about the CCC Group to the company. One of the principal issues facing the region is job creation, Mr. Owens said. If this is going to create jobs, its clearly something we should be involved in.
His Republican challenger, Matthew A. Doheny, who was visiting Massena on Thursday, said he did not feel it was appropriate for a congressman to intervene on such an issue. The last thing you want is the federal government wading in and telling productive businesses what to do, he said. Its not in the long run the best way to go.
But Mr. Owens disagreed, and said he sided with the ironworkers.
I would hope any elected official would do this for his constituency, he said.
The picket also has the support of St. Regis Mohawk Tribal officials, who called for community members to rally at the site at 6 a.m. today. Chief Ronald W. LaFrance, standing alongside Chief Paul Thompson at the site, said he was ready and willing to meet with Alcoa to advocate for local labor if the ironworkers requested his presence.
Mayor James F. Hidy also visited with the ironworkers and expressed his support Thursday.
For a company thats foreign to New York state to bring in people from other states is an absolute slap in the face, Mr. Hidy said.
Mr. Fitzgerald said the CCC Group had hired Mexican citizens who spoke little English. Richard L. Daddario, business manager of Laborers Local 322, said it didnt matter where they are from; the bottom line is, theyre not local. He stood alongside the ironworkers on Thursday.
It doesnt make any sense to me that they would want to do that, he said. We have an unemployment rate of over 11 percent. That should be of a concern to Alcoa.