The strike-turned-lockout that has kept 2,900 United Steel Workers of America (USWA) employees at five aluminum plants in Washington, Ohio, and Louisiana off their jobs for more than 17 months may be reaching the turning point. After Kaiser Aluminum Corp. said negotiations again had reached an impasse, Kaiser and the union last week scheduled talks for May 10. Kaiser's decision to reopen negotiations came after National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) general counsel Leonard Page informed the USWA in a letter, that the NLRB will charge that the Kaiser lockout violated U.S. labor laws. The NLRB dismissed 22 of the 24 unfair labor practice charges filed by the USWA, but referred two others to an administrative law judge for trial. Should it be determined that Kaiser illegally locked out the workers after they offered to return four months after the strike began (albeit without a contract), Kaiser could be liable for more than $250 million in back pay and benefits for the USWA members. Kaiser has kept the plants running with management personnel and temporary replacement workers.