Kaiser Aluminum appears to have buckled to pressure from state and federal officials, and now laid off workers will get full pay...at least through January. Roughly 700 union workers at the Mead smelter were laid off and the blame goes to high power costs. Kaiser Aluminum Corporation says it has reached an agreement to sell more electricity to the Bonneville Power Administration and will increase compensation to laid-off employees. The Houston-based aluminum and chemical company has been under fire since it announced last week that it would shut down its Mead smelter and net 52 million dollars from the resale of unused power. The company at that time said it would pay about 400 laid-off workers up to 70 percent of their base wages. In today's announcement, Kaiser says it will sell its January allotment of power back to the BPA and pay about 545 laid-off employees 100 percent of their base wages through January. They will also receive full medical benefits. In addition, employees at the Mead and Tacoma smelters who are not eligible for the new compensation package will receive a one-thousand-dollar holiday bonus.
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