Letter to the Editor

Re: History of Alcoa

Dear Workers' Forum,

1943 map put out by Alcoa.

I read with interest the recent articles about the fight of the ABI workers in Bécancour, Quebec against the company owner Alcoa, and the other anti-worker activities Alcoa has undertaken elsewhere in its global empire. It is instructive to look at Alcoa's history, where one sees that it has always acted to serve narrow private and even reactionary interests, against the well-being of working people. Faced with such an unprincipled monopoly, workers should remain convinced of the justness of their cause, and that they must rely on themselves and the growing support of workers across Canada and around the world to prevail in their struggle.

The 1889 formation of the Pittsburgh Reduction Company (PRC) by Hunt, Clapp, and Davis to refine aluminum ore based on Charles Hall's new aluminum reduction process was mainly financed by the super-rich Mellon family. Banker Andrew Mellon was then U.S. Secretary of the Treasury. The family also owned Gulf Oil and had many other lucrative investments, for example, in U.S. Steel and Westinghouse.

PRC was renamed Aluminum Corporation of America (Alcoa) in 1907. Alcan was founded by PRC in Shawnigan, Quebec in 1902 under the name Northern Aluminum Company to exploit the vast potential of Quebec's hydroelectric power resources. A member of the Davis family was installed as the CEO of each of Alcoa and Alcan, clearly exposing the link between the companies, although this was denied by both companies to avoid prosecution for violating monopoly laws.

The Mellon investments in both companies gave the family control of both Alcoa and Alcan, along with the Davises, and a virtual monopoly on aluminum production. This was used to continuously strengthen domination over the entire aluminum industry and to generate enormous profits. The Mellon fortune continued to grow to the present day and Arthur Vining Davis died the third richest man in America.

Alcoa was one of the U.S. monopolies which collaborated with Nazi Germany. Through its aluminum monopoly, before and during World War II, Alcoa ensured that Nazi Germany had an unlimited supply of aluminum to build its weaponry, e.g., airplanes, while America suffered massive shortages. In June 1941, Harold Ickes, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, said: "If America loses this war, it can thank the Aluminum Corporation of America."

Alcoa/Alcan's only significant U.S. rival in aluminum refining over the years has been Reynolds Aluminum, formed in 1910 by the Reynold's Tobacco family. Alcoa acquired Reynolds in 2000. In 2007, the Rothschild-controlled Rio Tinto monopoly acquired Alcan after a U.S.$38 billion deal.

A reader in Edmonton

This article was published in

Number 14 - April 18, 2019

Article Link:
Letter to the Editor: Re: History of Alcoa


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