United Steelworkers union members at The Timken Co. in Canton, OH, have approved a new five-year labor contract, which the specialty steelmaker and motion-control system producer said will give it the financial assurance to proceed with a $225-million expansion of its Faircrest Steel plant. The prior agreement had been set to continue through September 2013.

A $225-million capital improvement program outlined last summer for Faircrest will add a new ladle metallurgy station and large-dimension bloom caster, which will produce working material for large-diameter engineered steel bars. Timken indicated it would be increasing Faircrest’s finished products capacity by 25%, to supply heavy equipment and energy markets.

The company has not offered a project schedule for the expansion.

"This is a good day for our customers around the world, for our company and for the local community," stated Salvatore J. Miraglia, Jr., the president of Timken’s Steel business unit. "We've received great support for our steel expansion from state and local officials and suppliers, and now our employees have put the last element in place to make this project a go."

Earlier this month Timken said the contract offers workers annual increases to permanent base wages; cost-of-living adjustments; increases in variable-pay opportunities and incentive pay programs; improvements in health and wellness insurance packages; more pension benefits; and changes to the wage-escalation rates for new workers.

The new agreement covers four operations in the Canton area through September 2017.