Ferndale Alcoa workers plea for help in effort to save their jobs

Ferndale Alcoa workers plea for help in effort to save their jobs

FERNDALE, Wash. — Hundreds of Alcoa workers gathered in Ferndale Thursday morning to speak out against the closure of the local Italco aluminum plant.

Alcoa announced Wednesday that smelter operations in Ferndale would be closed and 700 workers would be laid off.

Company officials said declining market conditions necessitated the layoffs.

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"The smelter is part of the lifeblood of our community, and they have been putting food on the tables of Ferndale families for almost three generations,” Ferndale Mayor Greg Hansen said in a news release.

Hansen called the closure a critical blow to the local economy said he would do everything in his power to “breath life” back into the facility.

State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Whatcom County, said Wednesday night that he would leave “no stone unturned” in the effort to save the plant.

“This is a matter of national significance, as we look to protect industries that are critical to our country’s industrial base and our national security,” Ericksen said.

Ericksen spoke alongside the workers in Ferndale Thursday morning.

Alcoa officials said the Ferndale smelter lost $24 million in the first quarter of 2020. They said the full curtailment of the smelter is expected to be finished by July.

“While our employees have worked diligently to improve the facility, the smelter is uncompetitive, and current market conditions have exacerbated the facility’s challenges,” Alcoa President and Chief Executive Officer Roy Harvey said in a news release. “This is difficult because of the impact on our employees, and we will ensure appropriate support as we work to safely curtail the facility.”