It is meeting by virtual means only
OLYMPIA — State Rep. Sharon Shewmake (D-Bellingham), by virtual connections, recently convened various stakeholders in the announced Intalco Works closure to discuss potential solutions to the loss of the approximate 700 jobs there.
Participants were Intalco workers, labor representatives, personnel of the parent Alcoa company, economists and a bipartisan group of local, state and federal policymakers, according to a press release for Shewmake from House Democratic Communications.
“The announcement of the closure is devastating to workers, their families and our community,” said Shewmake. “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 22 the global Alcoa corporation announced that due to declining market conditions, the Cherry Point Intalco aluminum smelter west of Ferndale will close by July 31, 2020, and its workforce significantly curtailed. So far, the group convened by Shewmake has held two virtual meetings and is planning to do several more.
The offices of U.S. Sens. Murray and Cantwell and Rep. DelBene are listed as participants, as are also Gov. Inslee, 42nd District state Sen. Ericksen and state Rep. Van Werven. Others included are County Executive Sidhu and Ferndale Mayor Hansen and City Council members, and the Western Washington University Center for Economics and Business Research.
The group is considering all possible solutions to preserve Intalco’s family-wage jobs. In the past, the state Legislature has approved funds for workforce retraining and in 2018 invested $2 million to increase efficiency and decrease carbon emissions at the Intalco smelter by upgrading technology.
Shewmake is vice chair of the House Committee on Rural Development, Agriculture & Natural Resources and is also a member of the House Transportation and Environment & Energy panels.