Tester Working to Reopen CFAC Plant
by Laura Wilson
KPAX, December 11, 2010
COLUMBIA FALLS - The Flathead Valley has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, but reopening just one Columbia Falls company could create new jobs for hundreds of people.
The closing of the Columbia Falls Aluminum Company left hundreds of people without jobs. But union workers are trying to ensure that those layoffs are not permanent ones.
"That's been our focus this whole time... what can we do to get this plant reopened," commented steel worker's union President Keith Haverfield said.
The plant shut down late last year after facing rising energy prices as a result of a legal dispute against Bonneville Power Administration. But, workers say reopening the plant in the future could be profitable for both the company and the workers.
"It seems now all of a sudden with the aluminum market doing a little bit better, it looks like the future is maybe a little bit brighter," Haverfield told us.
The Flathead Valley has a little extra help coming from Senator Jon Tester, who met with union workers on Friday afternoon to discuss the best ways to create more jobs in the community.
"It's all about helping move the economy forward in one of the most depressed areas of the state right now," Tester explained.
The Democrat says that reopening the aluminum plant could create as many as 350 good paying jobs and he's working to reach a contract agreement with the BPA, that would supply power to the plant-and help get it up and running again.
"I think he can do us some good. It looks like there is a lot of movement and that is positive," Haverfield said of Tester.
"They'd like to see it going again. "They know what economic impact the creation-or recreation of these jobs could be," Tester added.
The senator says the recent discussion among all agencies involved has been positive and that the next step in moving forward will be for the companies to find a fast and flexible compromise.
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