#SAVEINTALCO…Intalco Families Reach Out to Local Leaders for Help
On November 2nd 2015 Alcoa announced plans to curtail Intalco by late January 2016. So, late on Nov 24th, I, a handful of employees, and some other wives and significant others of employees at Intalco were discussing the curtailment on our Intalco FB group page…we decided we couldn’t stand by after the Nov 2nd curtailment announcement and instead began writing, both email and physical mail, everyone we could think of who had power to keep Intalco open. We immediately began writing Governor Inslee, Senator Murray, Senator Cantwell, Suzan DelBene, Doug Ericksen, Vincent Buys, Luanne Van Werven, Kelli Linville, Jon Mutchler, Dave Gallagher at the Bellingham Herald, Alcoa officials, trending celebrities in the media who fight for American jobs, the Whatcom County Council, local political groups, local and state media outlets and even Presidential candidates.
Soon after the letter writing began one of the Intalco spouses started the tagline #saveintalco to use on social media so we could utilize viewing traffic. The hashtag has been used on Facebook and Twitter both directly on elected official’s pages, and those in the media spotlight, their pages and groups that fight for blue collar workers, and it has been used indirectly on articles about Intalco, WA industry, sending jobs to China, aluminum prices, Alcoa announcements, living wage jobs, climate change v. industry, etc.
There isn’t one ghost letter for individuals to sign and send off, rather we’ve written our own letters and messages, which people can view on FB pages or which have been sent through email and physical mail. We believe that all of our individual voices make up the picture that people need to see to understand that this is not a decision that effects 485 people ( a number), rather we are 485 employees who are committed to Alcoa/Intalco and choose every day to work grueling shift work around dangerous conditions, and yet love their job, love creating something, and thrive on the dignity of supporting their loved ones and being able to have the resources to donate to the community through personal time and finances. Hard working employees with families, which often include children who depend on the security of a living wage job. Employees who love the natural resources of this area, the recreation and lifestyle it provides and want to stay in Whatcom County.
We have tirelessly written and continue to do so, even after Alcoa’s, January 19th, announcement that curtailment has been postponed now until the end of Quarter 2 (June) 2016, because we passionately believe that the history and value of Intalco to the community, from its opening in 1966, is still just as viable now to our economic security as a county and state as it was then (for every job at Intalco, 3.26 jobs are created in the county). The fact that the Alcoa Foundation donates millions of dollars to causes shows engagement within our community. The fact that Intalco is the most efficient aluminum smelter in the U.S., when metal smelting is becoming a lost art in our country, is important. The fact that Intalco is the second largest employer at Cherry Point and thus a major contributor to tax revenue locally, and for the State, is vital to security for our future as a successful county and state. The fact that Alcoa signed the American Business Act on Climate Change shows that Intalco is also invested and engaged to have a clean industry and is willing to work with elected officials who support that agenda (i.e. Governor Inslee, President Obama, etc.). These are all valuable reasons to save Intalco. Intalco employees, our families, are subscribed into being successful, and fighting to keep living wage jobs in Whatcom County. Our hope is that if enough of us and community members show our elected officials and Alcoa this, that they together will find a way to save Intalco.
Since November 24th, some officials have replied to me personally; such as Dave Gallagher, who was supportive of getting info out through Herald stories, Kelli Linville’s office, Luanne Van Werven on Twitter, Doug Ericksen’s office, Vincent Buys on Twitter, and various political groups on Facebook, who have re-shared info given to them, and now the opportunity through Liberty Road to do the same.
Disappointingly, to date Governor Inslee (or his office) has yet to personally reply to anyone that I am aware of, though he did reportedly take meetings with the union. It is frustrating to have no response from Governor Inslee, as it appears that his concern is not there for what our families are expressing. I know I expect more from elected officials who are supposed to be working for their constituents and the causes that are of concern to them.
From Alcoa directly, we’ve been told curtailment of Intalco has the opportunity to cease when aluminum prices are higher, energy costs are lower. We were told that the current extension was reportedly in part due to employee engagement from writing in and fighting for our living wage jobs. It is clear that many factors are at play to keep Intalco open, including those who spoke to this issue at last Tuesday’s County Council meeting. It seems that our families are getting out the word and have been heard, a bit. However, for us, being heard a bit isn’t good enough and we are not OK with just an extension, as it still means Intalco will be curtailed. Our goal is to have Alcoa/Intalco to remain fully open.
There are 485 families who are directly affected when that curtailment happens. Some have taken early retirement, or found other jobs, before the extension was announced, as their future appeared uncertain. Multiple more families, businesses, and our county’s tax revenue will be significantly impacted when the curtailment does take place.
We need families to continue to write about all of the above, but also to contact community leaders. Because, if Intalco closes it hurts our entire County’s economy and has a trickle-down effect for families…facts that would make the future and stability of Whatcom County not as bright. We need people to continue to write, email, and to use the hashtag #saveintalco, when commenting on official’s Facebook and Twitter pages, and other pertinent media stories. It is our hope that Alcoa will decide to extend further into the future and keep Intalco in Whatcom County, open. We want our elected officials to fight for this, and to fight for programs like TAA, so they are approved for Intalco employees, so if unfortunately, Intalco does curtail despite the efforts of all involved.
~ Amy Steele, Alcoa/Intalco Family Member
Community members can support our efforts to save Intalco by writing to the officials below:
Governor Inslee: https://fortress.wa.gov/es/governor/
Senator Murray: https://www.murray.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contactme
Senator Cantwell: https://www.cantwell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/email-maria
Representative DelBene: http://delbene.house.gov/contact-me/email-me
Senator Ericksen: Doug@SenatorEricksen.com
Representative VanWerven: email@example.com
Representative Buys: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mayor Linville: email@example.com
Mayor Mutchler: firstname.lastname@example.org
Whatcom County Council as a whole and/or individually: http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/Directory.aspx?DID=28