The sticking point, however, has been the health care. Currently, Constellium absorbs all the health care costs for its workers, including 100 percent of the premiums. The new proposal calls for workers to begin paying 5 percent of the premium in the final year of the contract and absorb some co-pays.
The shift of a small portion of the health care costs to the workers is what had some members of the bargaining committee up in arms. If they had asked around, they would have found out pretty quickly that workers everywhere now share more of the financial responsibility for their health care costs.
Constellium has had up and down years because of the volatility of the aluminum market, but it's still betting on the future. The company invested $46 million for an aluminum stretcher for the plant.
Meanwhile, the company has locked down one major contract with an airplane manufacturer and has another in the works. The new business, along with some modest health care cost sharing with the workers, should keep Jackson County's largest employer in business for the foreseeable future.
That means good-paying jobs with health insurance that will provide a critical base to the local economy, while generating tax dollars to support schools and necessary services.
Most of the 700 Constellium workers who will vote on the contract offer likely realize that, even if a few members of the union bargaining committee don't get it.
Today, during a secret ballot election, we'll see a legitimate exercise of "union business."
Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.