USW Forms Evonik Council

This article originally appeared in Issue 11 of Chemical Solutions.

Evonik’s acquisitions of chemical units from companies like Degussa, Air Products and J.M. Huber resulted in eight USW locals, so the International formed the USW Evonik Council last fall.

“I was surprised how many locals are now part of Evonik, so I wanted to ensure the International gives its full support to these locals through the creation of a council,” said USW Vice President Carol Landry, who heads the union’s chemical sector.

“Having a council creates structure, and it increases solidarity and the ability of locals to determine their future together.”

Local unions from seven Evonik locations, representing about 400 employees, comprise the council. They are:

  • Local 7237-05 at Weston, Mich.
  • Locals 727-00 and 727-01 at Calvert City, Ky.
  • Local 134L-34 at Wallingford, Conn.
  • Local 11-508 at Galena, Kan.
  • Local 13-1 at Deer Park, Texas
  • Local 13-477 at Waggaman, La.
  • Local 7-807 at Mapleton, Ill.

Local 7237-5 from the Weston, Mich., plant hosted the first USW Evonik Council meeting on Sept. 20-21, 2017. As the locals shared contract information, it became apparent that Evonik had not standardized probationary periods, holidays, union leave, overtime, and health and safety language across all of their facilities.

The locals exchanged contracts so they could conduct a thorough comparison between facility agreements. They also lent support to those engaged in future bargaining.

Health and safety was a main topic of discussion at the meeting. Many locations have Behavior Safety Technology (BST) or have plant management that wants to introduce BST.

Behavior safety programs focus on observing workers and placing responsibility on workers for incidents that happen. They ignore other factors contributing to incidents, such as inadequate design and engineering of systems, delayed maintenance and inspection, lack of or poor training, and excessive overtime.

The Evonik Council will meet Sept. 5-6, 2018 in Pittsburgh. A call letter will be sent to the locals.

Evonik is one of the world’s largest producers of specialty chemicals. According to the company’s webpage, it has around 3,900 employees in North America, and roughly 3,600 of whom work in the U.S.

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