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Union local transferred to Grand Coulee

 

Wallace "Peewee" Pleasants is the president of a union local now in Grand Coulee.

The demise of the Alcoa aluminum plant in Wenatchee has led to a change in the location of the union lodge for machinists and a Bureau of Reclamation worker is now president.

Wallace "Peewee" Pleasants was appointed president Thursday night, Jan. 8, of the Grand Coulee local lodge of International Association of Machinists.

"We're all nervous, but at the same time, it's exciting," said Pleasants, a hydromechanic at Grand Coulee Dam.

The development could spur more participation locally on the part of union members here, where some 75 workers are signed on but few ever attended meetings in far-off Wenatchee, noted Steve Warren, business representative for IAM 751 out of Spokane.

Warren said the Grand Coulee workers had been members of the local lodge in Wenatchee, even though only 40 members worked there.

"Nobody (from Grand Coulee) went to meetings in Wenatchee," Warren said. "It's going to feel like there's a new lodge because there's never been one before."

With the "curtailment" at the aluminum plant, the Wenatchee workers are out of a job and essentially resigned their memberships. And transferring the lodge to Grand Coulee was a significant event for the Wenatchee members.

"It was really huge for those guys," Pleasants said.

With the transfer, Local Lodge 1123 will be setting up a new executive board and delegates, Warren said.

The aluminum company announced the cutbacks in November, affecting its Wenatchee and Ferndale plants in Washington, part of its response to falling aluminum prices worldwide, directly affecting 428 workers.

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