Tucker Redford, ATI business unit president, spoke at the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday, Jan. 13, and joked that he brought along his “entourage.”
Outside the Linn County Fair & Expo Center, about 30 people picketed on behalf of United Steelworkers. For nearly five months, approximately 180 workers have been locked out of ATI Albany Operations, the former Oremet facility on 34th Avenue, due to stalled contract negotiations.
Besides the lone entourage jab, Redford was sympathetic to workers and praised their skill.
“This is not good for anyone. … We’re talking about really good, talented people who can get the job done,” said Redford, who oversees nine ATI manufacturing facilities in six states, including four in Oregon.
He added that the ATI Albany Operations would have shut down completely a few years ago if not for workers making things more efficient.
Redford said the labor dispute stemmed from Pennsylvania, and he wished he could resolve things in Oregon.
The lockout impacts some 2,200 workers in 12 facilities throughout the country.
Justin Rosenbaum, an ATI Albany Operations lead millwright, said on Tuesday night that ATI and the union have resumed talks after months with no negotiations, but he wasn’t aware of progress. “Right now, I don’t see any resolution,” he added.
Rosenbaum was worried about his fellow workers because unemployment benefits only last six months. “I’m sure that’s weighing heavy on some of the guys’ minds,” he added. “We hope we can get back to the table and negotiate a fair contract. I think we’re all ready to come back to work and have been for a while.”
Since August, ATI Albany Operations workers have picketed outside their workplace. On Wednesday, they switched locations for Redford’s talk.
“We’re just trying to be here and be mellow and get the message out,” said ATI Albany Operations production worker Jerry Ammon, who was among those picketing in the rain.
Ammon added that the lockout was tough, but he planned ahead financially.
Fellow worker Jeremy Davis tried to save money, too, but he was in a different situation.
“I just had a kid,” Davis said. “It gets real tight, diapers and formula and clothes.”
Redford’s talk focused on ATI in general, and the comments regarding the lockout were a small part of the presentation.