OLYMPIA – Representative Sharon Shewmake (D-Whatcom) virtually convened Intalco workers, labor representatives, Alcoa corporate representatives, economists and a bipartisan group of local, state, and federal policymakers to discuss potential solutions to the loss of around 700 Alcoa jobs in Ferndale.
“The announcement of the closure is devastating to workers, their families and our community,” said Shewmake. “We are bringing together workers, Alcoa representatives, local leaders, congressional leaders, and economists to figure out what we can do. This isn’t a partisan issue. This is a Whatcom issue. So, we’re spreading the word far and wide to solve it together. As a legislator, I will pursue every option to support workers.”
On April 22nd, Alcoa corporation announced that due to declining market conditions, the Ferndale Intalco aluminum smelter will close by the end of July 2020 and its workforce will be significantly curtailed. So far, the group has held two virtual meetings and is planning to virtually reconvene several times in the coming weeks. Participants include:
• Union representatives from IAM District 160, Local Lodge 2379, the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council
• Alcoa Corporation representatives
• The offices of Senator Murray, Senator Cantwell, and Congresswoman DelBene
• Governor Inslee’s office
• State Senator Doug Ericksen
• State Representative Luanna Van Werven
• Whatcom County Executive Satpal Sidhu
• Ferndale Mayor Greg Hansen
• Ferndale City councilmembers Herb Porter, Ryan O’Larey and Erin Gunter
• Western Washington University’s Center for Economics and Business Research
“Alcoa’s Intalco smelter is one of the industries that transformed Ferndale into the City it is today. They are part of our DNA,” said Ferndale Mayor Greg Hansen. “I am reaching out to everyone I can to fight like hell for those jobs. No matter what happens with the smelter, I know our Ferndale resilience, toughness, and pride and will see us through these tough times, as it always has.”
The group is considering all possible solutions to preserve family-wage jobs. In the past, the legislature has appropriated funds for workforce retraining and, in 2018, legislators invested $2 million to increase efficiency and decrease carbon emissions at the Intalco smelter by upgrading technology.
Shewmake serves as vice chair of the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources. She’s also a member of the House Transportation and the Environment & Energy Committee.
Rep. Sharon Shewmake, D-Bellingham (42nd Legislative District), represents most of Whatcom County, including Blaine, Ferndale, Lynden, Sumas, and part of Bellingham, and extending east to Mt. Baker, North Cascades National Park, and Ross Lake.
For interviews or more information:
Rep. Sharon Shewmake, 360-786-7854 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Staff: Genevieve Jones at email@example.com
(Credit: Washington State LSS)