Kaiser Aluminum

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In 1942, the Defense Production Corporation, a federal agency, announced its intent to build an aluminum plant near Newark, located at what is now 400 Kaiser Drive in Heath. The decision was based on the need for extra wartime production. The Emergency Finance Corporation provided the corporation with $20 million. The plant was initially to be leased and operated by the Aluminum Company of America. [1]

Operations at the plant began under the direction of the Kaiser Aluminum company in 1949. It was announced in April of that year that production would begin in June, and the plant would employ between 300 and 400 workers. [2]

In 1952, Kaiser Aluminum announced that they would be signing a contract to begin building air craft parts at their Newark factory (now located in Heath) in order to help the U.S. Air Force. The company would be receiving two giant forging presses. One press was described as standing nine stories high and weighing 35,000 tons. These presses were expected to produce three million pounds of forgings per month, making a huge contribution to the wartime effort. [3]

In 1989, Kaiser Aluminum announced they would be moving some of the finishing operations from Heath to counties in Georgia and Tennessee, in order to simplify the work being done at the plant. [4]

In June 1997, a section of the plant’s roof was compromised during a heavy rainstorm. Only one person was harmed by the collapse of the roof, but they only sustained minor injuries, while trying to escape from a break room that they were trapped in.</ref>Brent Snavely, “Kaiser Plans Structural Analysis of Fallen Roof,” The Advocate, June 18, 1997. </ref>

Kaiser Aluminum experienced a two year strike that involved 2,900 union employees, nationwide (250 of them were from Heath). The union employees became angry after Kaiser refused a new contract agreement with the United Steelworkers of America.[5] The union employees were ordered to return to work after a labor pact was reached. The pact stated that the workers would receive a decent pay raise. Many of them were not happy with the results, but they were happy for the strike to be over.[6] Due to the illegal lockout that occurred against the union employees in January 1999, a judge ordered for Kaiser to pay as much as $200 million to union workers for lost wages and benefits.[7]

More than six years after the end of the two-year lockout, the Kaiser Aluminum facility in Heath successfully reopened in March of 2007, albeit as a smaller facility. The company claimed that their relationship with the union was good and constantly improving, and that they were positioned for future success.[8]



  1. Ben Hoover, “Breaking of Ground for Newark Aluminum Plant Waits Go Ahead Signal From Government Agency,” The Newark Advocate,August 6, 1942, 1,12.
  2. “Aluminum Plant Will Start Soon,” Newark Advocate, April 26, 1949, 1, 8.
  3. “Kaiser Aluminum To Operate Air Force Factory In Newark,” Newark Advocate, February 16, 1952.
  4. David Stewart, “Kaiser To Move Some Jobs South,” The Advocate, March 15, 1989.
  5. Kent Mallett, “Board Sides With Union Against Kaiser,” The Advocate, July 6, 2000, 1.
  6. Kent Mallett, “Pickets Pack Up,” The Advocate, September 19, 2000, 1,2.
  7. Advocate Staff, “Judge Decides Kaiser Lockout Was Illegal,” The Advocate, May 15, 2002.
  8. Mark Szakonyi, “Plant Strengthens Union Relationship,” The Advocate, March 24, 2007, 1A, 12A.