Solvay Council prepares for tough negotiations ahead of company split

The USW Solvay Council convened online July 18 to regroup since they last met in-person this past April. Three of the chemical council locals are heading into negotiations within the next few months, and the members are hoping to strategize and organize together as they enter a tough battle.

Solvay is splitting into two companies at the end of the year, which is causing uncertainty at the table. USW International Secretary-Treasurer John Shinn, who oversees chemical sector bargaining, said the council has to work together to ensure the process is a smooth one.

“We don’t know what to expect, how the split affects the economics,” said Shinn. “We have to be prepared.”

Kent Ferree, who serves as unit president of Local 7-00765-01 at the company’s Chicago Heights facility, said his members’ priorities as they move into early negotiations on August 14 are financial.

“Wages are a big concern because of inflation,” Ferree said. “Everything you buy has doubled in price.”

The council talked about organizing joint sticker days to take place at every Solvay site, along with participating in Building Power workshops with the USW Strategic Campaigns department.

Shinn also informed the group that the union has started dialogue with the company about the comprehensive health and safety proposal they plan to put on the table at every negotiation.

“We’re not going to let them ignore this,” he said. “We’re letting them know we’re taking this seriously.”

The USW represents members at eight Solvay sites across the United States.

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