Tim Scott asks Alcoa workers to pray for a solution

(Isaac McIntyre/WCIV)

By Stefanie

GOOSE CREEK, S.C. (WCIV) -- The lights could go dark on the Alcoa plant in Goose Creek. Officials at the aluminum plant say if Santee Cooper does not lower the power bill, Alcoa could be forced to shut down.

Friday, Congressman Tim Scott held a town hall at the plant, and told a handful of Alcoa employees that sometimes when you run out of words, you just have to pray.

"Dearly Father, we find ourselves in a situation where it doesn't seem like me as a congress member or the employees before me have the solutions," Congressman Tim Scott said.

Praying is what a lot of folks at the aluminum plant have been doing lately, as their jobs and livelihoods are on the fence. Negotiations continue for a new electric contract between Santee Cooper and Alcoa.

"This is one of those critical forks in the road," Scott said. "We need to choose the right path and the right path is encouraging folks to stay at the table and continue until they get to a win-win situation."

The deal affects more than 600 Alcoa workers -- including Patterson James. The Alcoa employee of 10 years has postponed his wedding, until he knows he has a secure job.

"Unfortunately, I had to put it on hold, and she was upset but understood. We need to get this contract resolved, and we can go forward with the marriage," James said. "It's a huge life-changing situation, my job. When you lose a job, that changes everything. I'm hoping not to get to that point."

Congressman Scott told workers at the town hall he's working hard to encourage the two companies to reach an agreement fast -- so as not to put the community in jeopardy. Alcoa currently pumps about $900 million into the local economy.

"At the end of the day, if this place closes, it shifts the burden to more people," Scott said.

Alcoa officials say negotiations with Santee Cooper are currently ongoing, but they say there is no telling when a deal will be reached. Alcoa says it pays about $4 million a week for electricity.

The company has until June to notify Santee Cooper if it wants to renew its contract.