Teamsters End Strike at Airgas


Drivers and plant operation workers at industrial gas company Airgas returned to work in March after ending a 24-hour strike.

The workers, members of Local 100 in Cincinnati, unanimously authorized a strike less than two weeks before the strike and went on strike on March 10 to protest Airgas’ violations of United States and international labor laws. The workers’ contract with the company expired on Nov. 30, 2015.

In February, Airgas shareholders approved the sale of the company to France-based Air Liquide.

“The strike by members of Local 100 was a message to Airgas and Air Liquide’s management that their American workers will not tolerate violations of labor laws or their human rights. We demand that Air Liquide direct Airgas management to stop the attacks on their dedicated and loyal American workers,” said Sam Bucalo, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 100.

“I’m proud of Local 100 Teamsters. Every one of its Airgas members stood up to Air Liquide on that picket line and declared, ‘Stop the attacks!’” said Keith Gleason, Teamsters Tankhaul Division Director. “The ball is in Airgas’ court now. We expect the company to stop violating the law, and that when negotiations resume April 5, they’ll drop what they termed their ‘throwaway proposals’ and get down to the business of negotiating in good faith.”

“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,” Bucalo said.

“Unbelievably, Air Liquide, 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,” Gleason said.

Bucalo said workers are telling Air Liquide, “Stop the attacks by your Airgas managers.” There was 100 percent participation on the strike line and no one 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.”