Agreement Saves 600 Jobs and Ensures Continued Operation of Massena West
Governor Cuomo and U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that an agreement has been reached that will preserve hundreds of jobs at Alcoa’s operations in Massena, where the aluminum manufacturer had planned to curtail its smelting operations by early next year. Under the agreement, Alcoa will continue operating in Massena and will maintain a workforce level of at least 600 people at the plant for the next three and a half years.
Governor Cuomo said: “This agreement strengthens an essential part of the North Country economy and saves hundreds of jobs in the region. It gives Alcoa the opportunity to recommit to its future in Massena – just as hundreds of its employees have already done for much of their working lives with the company – and bolster the viability of these facilities over the long-term. This agreement also protects the State’s investments, ensuring that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and that Alcoa lives up to its promises. I appreciate the efforts of everyone who helped make this agreement possible, and will continue this administration’s work to grow the North Country economy in the days ahead.”
Senator Schumer said: “This Thanksgiving as we are surrounded by family and friends, we can be a little more thankful that roughly 600 Upstate New Yorkers will not be out of a job. The agreement that Governor Cuomo and I forged with Alcoa is a major victory for the North County and more importantly the hard working, extremely productive workers at the Alcoa factory in Massena. The entire community can finally breathe a big sigh of relief and I will continue to engage with the company – and will partner with local leaders, my federal partners, and the Governor to make sure this facility is productive and thriving for years to come.”
Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld said: “Senator Schumer and Governor Cuomo have been tremendous allies for Alcoa’s Massena operations for many years and we thank them for their continued support. Today’s agreement helps better position the smelter in light of prevailing market conditions, providing this facility a bridge to a stronger commodity market and maintaining jobs in the North Country. We remain focused on ensuring our Upstream business is well-positioned to succeed throughout the cycle.”
The deal changes the current contract between Alcoa and the New York Power Authority. The agreement, which is retroactive to Oct. 1 and runs through March 31, 2019, provides various state incentives to Alcoa, and includes significant financial penalties if the company defaults or terminates the deal early.
Alcoa had said on Nov. 2 it would curtail operations at the smelter at its Massena West plant, which would have eliminated at least 487 jobs, leaving approximately only 217 positions for other functions at the plant. Under today's agreement, Alcoa will be required to employ at least 600 full-time equivalent employees – those working at least 35 hours a week – throughout Massena West. The company will offer a voluntary retirement package to eligible employees.
NYPA President and CEO Gil C. Quiniones said: “Competitively priced clean power from our St. Lawrence-FDR hydroelectric plant in Massena is a critical tool for attracting businesses and creating economic development in the North Country. We look forward to continuing our productive relationship with Alcoa in exchange for their commitment to retain jobs in the region.”
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said: “As the largest private-sector employer north of Syracuse, we recognize the vital role Alcoa plays in the North Country. This agreement goes a long way toward ensuring that the Massena West plant is a competitive facility for Alcoa.”
Provisions of the agreement include:
- NYPA will provide low-cost hydro power, already some of the lowest-cost electricity in the nation
- However, the state’s low-cost power rate will be increased as the price of aluminum increases in the global metals exchange market
- Capital and operating expense support from Empire State Development, totaling $38.8 million over 3.5 years
- Up to $40 million in penalties should Alcoa breach or terminate the agreement. The amount of the penalty would gradually decline by the end of the term.
- A requirement to have at least 600 full-time-equivalent employees on the payroll at Massena West according to the terms of the agreement or Alcoa will face financial penalties
Senator Betty Little said: “Alcoa is a vital organ of the North Country’s economy and community, with many of our family, friends and neighbors depending on the facility day in and day out. I am thrilled that Governor Cuomo, Senator Schumer, and the Alcoa team have come to a resolution that will allow this region to preserve the over 600 jobs that support us. I thank all parties involved for their hard work in reaching an agreement that will keep this company here in Massena. What better gift to these families right before Thanksgiving."
Senator Patty Ritchie said: “Today, Governor Cuomo and Senator Schumer have achieved a spectacular victory for all of the North Country. From the Alcoa workers whose jobs are thankfully saved, to the families and communities whose economic stability depends on them, this agreement is not only a boost to our region, but avows the Governor and Senator's support for every hard-working New Yorker across the Empire State.”
Senator Joseph Griffo said: “Today is a huge win for our community and we thank Governor Cuomo and Senator Schumer for making it a reality. This agreement not only protects hundreds of jobs in our community, but it also ensures our area's economic viability for the foreseeable future.”
Assembly Member Addie Russell said: “Today’s agreement is a pivotal move in securing the economic health of our community. In addition to saving hundreds of jobs, it will help the North Country maintain its role as a competitive player in the clean energy industry and preserve the livelihoods of hundreds of families in the region. Today is a major victory for our community and I thank the Governor and our partners for making this announcement possible.”
Assembly Member Janet Duprey said: “This is a great day for the North Country. Reaching an agreement to support the continued operation of Alcoa in Massena was critical to saving hundreds of jobs and keeping the local economy strong – and I thank Governor Cuomo and Senator Schumer for making it happen. Families throughout Massena and the surrounding communities will have a new peace of mind heading into Thanksgiving, and I appreciate the work of everyone involved.”
The agreement is subject to approval by the NYPA Board of Trustees, who are slated to meet Dec. 17.