22 May, 2019Members of IndustriALL affiliate the United Steelworkers (USW) Local 13-1 have been locked out of a chemical plant owned by Dow in Deer Park, near Houston, Texas, for more than a month.
The 235 workers were locked out by Rohm and Haas Texas lnc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Dow Chemical, on 22 April, after negotiations for a new collective agreement broke down. The company is owned by DowDuPont, which was formed by the merger in August 2018 of Dow and DuPont.
Workers are concerned by overtime caused by understaffing, and the consequence this has on safety. The union has made several proposals, but the company has not made a meaningful move towards a bargained contract. Instead of addressing the issues raised by workers, the company has made three “last, final and best” offers to the union, most recently on 20 May.
The first two offers were rejected by over 90 per cent of the workforce. The most recent offer makes no substantial concessions and the company has not compromised on its hardline position. In the meantime, workers have been on the street, with no pay cheque or medical insurance for over a month.
The site produces specialized acrylic-based chemicals, used in paint, coating and adhesives. The union is concerned that DowDuPont is putting the local community at risk by locking out skilled union workers and using less experienced managers, who may never have used the equipment before the lockout, to handle dangerous chemicals and processes that are not part of their normal duties.
The struggle at Deer Park is supported by an active trade union network, the DowDuPont North American Labor Council, which is led by the USW. The network is extended to unions at the company around the world and IndustriALL Global Union, and has taken solidarity action in support of Local 13-1. Support letters have been sent to the locked-out workers by IndustriALL, the Australian Workers Union, Unite, SOEPU (Argentina) and the IG BCE (Germany), and a solidarity pledge is online here.
IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches said:
“This lockout has now entered its second month. What a ridiculous decision by the Deer Park site management, to lockout workers instead of bargaining in good faith. These managers cause reputational damage to the full DowDuPont company.
“End the lockout now.”