(CINCINNATI) – Drivers and plant operation workers at industrial gas company Airgas [NYSE: ARG] went on strike this morning.
The workers, members of Teamsters Local 100 in Cincinnati, had unanimously authorized a strike less than two weeks ago, and went on strike today to protest Airgas’ violations of United States labor laws.
The workers’ contract with the company expired on Nov. 30, 2015.
“Airgas violated United States labor laws that protect workers’ rights. Airgas management threatened to discipline a worker who is a union steward if he attended contract negotiations. Negotiating a contract is the basic right of workers’ unions. It’s completely unacceptable for the company to threaten workers for exercising their rights. The company also acted illegally when it unilaterally terminated workers’ 401(k) retirement funds — some workers could have huge tax bills as a result,” said Sam Bucalo, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 100.
“Unbelievably, Air Liquide [EPA: AI], a France-based company whose recent offer to purchase Airgas was overwhelmingly accepted by shareholders, has stood idly by and allowed these attacks on its American workers to continue,” said Keith Gleason, Teamsters Tankhaul Division Director.
Bucalo said workers are telling Air Liquide, “Stop the attacks by your Airgas managers.” There is 100 percent participation on the strike line today and no one has crossed the line.
Gleason said Air Liquide’s Airgas has been abusing workers across America by locking them out during contract negotiations; threatening workers with loss of health care benefits and wages; and attempting to break its workers’ unions by illegally threatening union activists.
“This would never happen in their European operations,” Gleason said.
“We are angry about Airgas’ violations of our rights. Air Liquide needs to rein in its Airgas management and stop them from breaking United States and international laws. Now that we’re on strike, we know how important that is,” said Barry Perkins, chief steward and negotiation committee member. “Air Liquide’s Airgas management is so out-of-touch, they weren’t even at the facility this morning and didn’t know we were on strike until we were well into it.”
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.