A state appeals panel has upheld a labor board's decision to grant unemployment benefits to 609 Constellium workers who participated in a seven-week strike at the Ravenswood plant last summer.
The company had appealed a December ruling by the three-member state Labor Dispute Tribunal granting benefits to the workers at the aluminum rolling mill.
Workforce West Virginia spokeswoman Courtney Sisk confirmed Thursday that the company lost that appeal.
"The West Virginia Unemployment Compensation Board of Review has unanimously affirmed the decision of a three-judge labor dispute panel that ruled claimants are not disqualified from seeking unemployment benefits during last year's labor dispute at Constellium Rolled Products in Ravenswood," Sisk said in an emailed statement.
Union workers at the Constellium plant went on a nearly seven-week strike from Aug. 5 to Sept. 23 after union leaders balked at the company's proposed changes to union members' health benefit plans.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and U.S. Sens Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., stepped in to help end the strike.
While union workers walked the picket lines, non-union and salary employees continued to work.
Sisk said this was significant because West Virginia law dictates that if there is no work stoppage at a facility, striking workers are still eligible for unemployment benefits.
"Under West Virginia law, that is a determinative factor that must first be considered in arriving at a ruling," Sisk said. "Once a finding is made that there was no significant work stoppage during the period of a labor dispute, all other substantive issues become moot."
A total of 609 workers applied for benefits following the strike and received their benefits last fall. The total payout was not made public.