Solvay Execs Outline Company Split at Global Forum Meeting, Emphasize Continuity

Solvay’s planned split into two, independent public companies will not immediately impact USW members, corporate officials told the Solvay Global Forum at its March 28-April 1 meeting in Brussels.

The Solvay Global Forum meets in person annually in Brussels, site of the company’s corporate headquarters, to discuss with management the state of the company’s businesses, plans for future investments, challenges, and policies and procedures.

Pictured: Solvay Global Forum and Solvay management team.

Eight worker representatives from the company’s facilities around the globe and three management representatives are members of the forum. Jeff Hill, a member of Local 14200 at the Solvay Marietta, Ohio, plant, is the forum’s North American labor representative.

At this year’s meeting, Solvay CEO Illham Kadri explained the split, which the company calls the “Power of Two.” The separation is scheduled to be completed in the third quarter of 2023.

One company will include commodity chemicals and have nine U.S. plants. Local 7-765-01 at Chicago Heights and Local 4294-03 at Alorton, Ill., are two Solvay sites likely to fit into this business, Hill said.

The second company will have nine U.S. sites and focus on chemical materials and items like specialty polymers that are more complex to manufacture, Hill said. He said the Marietta, Ohio, plant will likely fit into this business.

“The split won’t impact union contracts initially,” Hill said, “Solvay will keep everything in place to keep anxiety down.”

To that end, the same labor relations model will govern both companies: Each one will have a global forum, a European Works Council and a board of directors.

During its meeting, the Solvay Global Forum also addressed the yearly bonus, the proposed stock purchase plan and changes to the family leave policies, which now allows employees to break up their 16 weeks of leave into multiple chunks within one year as long as the scheduling is reasonable.

During the forum meeting, IndustriALL and Solvay signed the Global Framework Agreement for an additional four-year term.  Both parties also signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Labor Relations in the United States that establishes a task force of union leaders and management that works toward ensuring the Global Framework Agreement is properly implemented.  

Both documents also promote “social dialogue” between workers and management, a commitment to labor rights, health and safety protections, environmentally sustainable operations and a pledge to remain neutral in organizing.

This fall, Local 14200 President Greg May will take over as the forum’s North American labor representative, upon Hill’s retirement. Hill has been a member of the Solvay Global Forum since its first meeting in March 2015.

“The Solvay Global Forum has been invaluable for resolving conflicts some USW locals had with plant managers and U.S. Solvay management,” Hill said. “It has enabled us to improve U.S. labor relations, and has been an incredible experience for me to make our workplaces better.”

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