Contract talks open today between Alcoa and the United Steelworkers union. The four-year contract expires on May 15th and affects 5,000 union members in Iowa and 7 other states. Local 105 represents 1,700 hourly workers at the Alcoa plant’s Davenport Works. Mike Nicholas, the union’s financial secretary, says the main issues, as in the past, will be wages and benefits.

“Retirees’ health care is a big one for us, keeping the retirees from having to pay more for their health care,” Nicholas says. “Obviously, we don’t want to pay more for our health care.” Nicholas says one of the union’s top goals is to block Alcoa from implementing a two-tier system with lower wages and benefits for new workers.

The company and union met briefly earlier this month to exchange initial proposals, but bargaining won’t begin until today in Pittsburgh.