With major layoffs already at their aluminum plant in Ravenswood, members of a United Steelworkers local approved a contract offer from plant owner Pechiney Rolled Products.

The measure passed 395 to 324.

Local union president Billy Hendricks says the layoffs and Pechiney's bankruptcy threat tipped the scales in favor of the contract, after it was rejected twice.

The Jackson County company is laying-off 202 workers, about 17 percent of the plant's force.

The company threatened bankruptcy without a new agreement, which it said it needed to cut health care costs.

Neither the company nor the union would discuss details of the new contract, which extends through May 2005.

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