(WASHINGTON) – Today, Teamsters representatives protested Air Liquide outside the French Embassy, the day after Airgas shareholders voted to approve the purchase by France-based Air Liquide of Airgas [NYSE: ARG] for $10.3 billion.
The Teamsters held signs and banners that read, “Air Liquide: Stop the Attacks,” and “Air Liquide: Arrêtez les Attaques,” demanding that Air Liquide stop Airgas’ attacks on workers and their rights to form unions and negotiate contracts in the United States and Canada.
“Air Liquide’s acquisition, Airgas, has been abusing workers by locking them out during contract negotiations, threatening workers with loss of healthcare benefits and wages, and attempting to break its workers’ unions by illegally threatening union activists,” said Ken Hall, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer.
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa and General Secretary-Treasurer Hall wrote to Air Liquide’s CEO Benoît Potier, asking him to work together with them to address the rapidly deteriorating relationship between Airgas and its workers. There has been no response.
Additionally, officials from all 45 Teamster local unions that represent North American Air Liquide and Airgas workers signed a letter asking the union that represents Air Liquide workers in France to call on Air Liquide to open dialogue with its American workers.
“Air Liquide would never get away with treating its French workers this way,” said Keith Gleason, Director of the Teamsters Tankhaul Division. “We call on Air Liquide to respond to our union’s request to meet, and to treat its American Airgas employees with the same respect that it treats its French employees.”
“I don’t understand Air Liquide’s business plan for its new holding, Airgas,” Hall said. “Air Liquide is under fire by the investment community in Europe for paying too much for Airgas. And yesterday, the very day that Airgas shareholders voted to accept Air Liquide’s offer, Société Générale downgraded its stock by almost ten percent. Now Air Liquide turns its back on 45 leaders of their North American employees’ unions? That is difficult to understand.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.