(HOUSTON) – Today, Airgas employees and Teamsters representatives protested outside Air Liquide’s U.S. headquarters as Airgas shareholders approved the purchase of Airgas [NYSE: ARG] by France-based Air Liquide for $10.3 billion.
Airgas employees held signs that read, “Air Liquide: Stop the Attacks,” demanding that Air Liquide stop Airgas’ attacks on workers and their unions.
“Last year, Airgas locked out workers in Massachusetts, halting deliveries to hospitals and other customers throughout New England. And across America, Airgas has been conducting a campaign to introduce wage discrimination schemes, threaten workers with loss of healthcare benefits and wages during collective bargaining, and attempting to break its workers’ unions by illegally threatening union activists,” said Ken Hall, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer.
“Air Liquide would never get away with treating its French workers this way,” said Keith Gleason, Director of the Teamsters Tankhaul Division. “We are here to ask Air Liquide to treat its American Airgas employees with the same respect that it treats its French employees.”
All 45 Teamster local unions that represent Airgas workers signed a letter asking the union that represents Air Liquide workers in France to call on the company to open dialogue with its American workers. Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa and General Secretary-Treasurer Hall also wrote to Air Liquide’s CEO Benoît Potier, to ask him to work together with them to address the rapidly deteriorating relationship between Airgas and its workers.
“Airgas workers in Charleston, West Virginia, voted for union representation more than a year ago, and have been trying to negotiate a first contract ever since,” said Luke Farley, a business agent with Teamsters Local 175. “Airgas refuses to bring Charleston workers’ pay up to local standards, and doesn’t want workers to have the right to honor picket lines. This is outrageous—the company would never dare to treat workers this way in France.”
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 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.