“ It’s all about getting young blood in here. You can’t expect a Local Union to successfully represent and defend its members if you don’t train the up and coming leaders. One day, myself and the other officers won’t be here and it will be up to the younger generation of Brothers and Sisters to stand up for one another. I take pride in teaching and training new Local Union 4994 members.”
– Local Union 4994 President Ray Vesco
The Urichsville, Ohio rolling mill, historically known as “The Newport Rolling Mill” (Newport) was founded in 1964, by IMCO Recycling, Inc. (IMCO) to expand its aluminum recycling capacity. In 2004, IMCO merged with Commonwealth Industries, Inc. to become Aleris Rolled Products, Inc. (Aleris).
Newport receives five million pounds of scrap aluminum every day, often in the form of road signs, gutters, siding and various other materials. The plant recycles the material to produce high quantity aluminum, which they then turn into flat rolled aluminum sheets. “We have half as many rotary furnaces as we did in 1997, but we produce almost twice as much as we did then,” stated Local Union 4994 President Ray Vesco, “This is an extremely high performing facility, every machine serves a specific purpose and the operators are the very best.”
Local Union 4994 President Ray Vesco has worked at Newport for 24 years. He served as Chairman of the Grievance Committee for over 20 years and is currently in his 4th term as Local Union President. “Ray was instrumental in organizing Local Union 4994,” stated International District 31 Vice President Rick Altman. “He has always been dedicated to the Union and works tirelessly to educate the new Members and get them involved in the Union”. UMWA Local Union 4994 was chartered on April 19, 1994 and proudly represents Aleris employees. Its members perform many duties within the facility and are extremely well skilled in the operation of all the machinery in the plant.
Planning for a Safe Future
One of the most impressive attributes of Aleris is its Information Center (I.C. Center), which is a room dedicated to the reviewing and planning of Aleris’ safety records and production numbers. “The operators meet every day, often multiple times a day, in the I.C. Center to go over safety issues and review the goals for that work day,” explained Local Union 4994 Recording Secretary Scott Vanfossen. “The equipment we use here is extremely dangerous. There is always the potential risk of accidental injury. I think I can speak for the members when I say we’re grateful that safety is a priority here.” Scott works closely with both Local Union 4994 officers and Aleris’ management team to ensure all employees are safe and protected every time they come to work. “One thing that makes Newport stand out within the Company is our safety record,” said Scott. “It has been almost two years without a lost time accident, and that is something we are very proud of.”
It’s All About Teamwork
“The fact that it’s been almost two years without a lost time accident speaks volumes about the successful efforts of Local Union 4994,” said Vice President Altman. “I truly can’t express how proud I am of the Members of UMWA Local Union 4994.” Derick Hutchison is currently the Chairman of the Grievance Committee. “I’ve been a member for almost a decade, and I can honestly say we all work together here. We all work together as one team on the job and our main goal is safety. I’m proud to be a member of UMWA Local Union 4994 and to have a President like Ray.” When asked about the longevity of his members’ employment at Aleris, Ray responded, “Over 50 percent of our employees have worked at Aleris for 25 years. Our members want to work here because they know they will return safely to their families at the end of their shift and they know they have a Union that looks out for them.”
Many employees at Aleris are family members and close friends referred by UMWA members. “The fact that over half of Aleris’ employees have been here for 25 years is no surprise to anyone,” said Vice President Altman. “The relationship that Local Union 4994 has built with its members is truly wonderful. There are no major divisions between Aleris and the Union.” Longstanding member and Local Union 4994 Financial Secretary Michael Mulvaney said, “Just like Ray and Derick said, we work together as a team here. Our goal is to create a working environment where the Members feel like they have a voice, and most importantly, feel safe. That is what we have here at Aleris.”