USW, Allies Call on Glencore to End 7-Month Lockout at Sherwin Alumina

Union Members Deliver Message at Corporation’s Annual Meeting

Contact: Ben Lilienfeld: (832) 556-0370, blilienfeld@usw.org

ZUG, Switzerland (May 7) — Members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 235A in Corpus Christi, Texas, along with allies from other industrial unions from around the world, traveled to Switzerland this week to deliver a message to commodities giant Glencore: End the lockout at Sherwin Alumina.

The union members spoke at the annual shareholders meeting of Glencore, the corporate owner of the Texas alumina facility where 450 workers have been locked out of their jobs since Oct. 11.

image 683“Over the past seven months, we have repeatedly offered to return to work while we continue to bargain a new contract that is fair to both the company and its workers. We have always been ready, willing and able to continue to work,” said Local 235A Vice President Rey Hererra. “The company has refused these offers and continues to keep us out of work.”

The union told shareholders that the lockout has had a negative effect not just on their South Texas community, but on Glencore’s production and profitability.

“The company says the pay and benefit cuts it demands are necessary for Sherwin to remain competitive. However, this makes no sense when you look at the bottom line,” Hererra said. “Before the lockout, Sherwin was already a profitable company. Productivity was on the rise, and labor costs were down. Since the lockout, Glencore’s own numbers show that production and productivity have dropped off substantially.”

“This loss of production has cost the company approximately $40 million in revenue,” Hererra said. “The good news is there is an easy solution: Glencore must end the lockout at Sherwin Alumina.”

The USW members spent the week in Switzerland with fellow union members and Glencore workers from South Africa, Australia and Columbia, holding solidarity events and meeting with political leaders and human rights activists. In addition to the Sherwin lockout, Glencore has been accused of launching anti-union campaigns against mine workers in South Africa and Columbia, subjecting workers at Peru’s Antamina mine to regular health and safety violations, and refusing to re-hire union workers at Australia’s Collinsville mine.

The USW is the largest industrial union in North America, representing workers in a range of industries including metals, mining, rubber, paper and forestry, oil refining, health care, security, hotels, and municipal governments and agencies.

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