USW, Allies Lobby Swiss Government to Help End Sherwin Alumina Lockout

Union Members Launch Global Campaign with Event in Houston

Contact: R.J. Hufnagel: (412) 562-2450,

HOUSTON (June 25) — Members of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 235A in Corpus Christi traveled to Houston today to enlist the help of the Swiss government to pressure Swiss commodities giant Glencore to end its nine-month lockout at Sherwin Alumina and put a stop to other anti-worker behavior around the world.

consul1The workers delivered a letter from USW International President Leo W. Gerard to officials at the Swiss consulate in Houston calling on the Swiss government to pressure Glencore to uphold traditional Swiss values of respecting workers and supporting unions. The letter is part of a campaign by IndustriALL, a coalition of unions that includes the USW, to shed light on Glencore’s behavior. IndustriALL represents 50 million workers in 140 countries.

About 450 workers have been off the job at Glencore’s Sherwin Alumina plant since the company locked them out on Oct. 11. The union has repeatedly offered to return to work and continue bargaining, but Sherwin has refused.  

“Switzerland has a long history of respecting the dignity of workers and supporting collective bargaining. However, Glencore’s behavior abroad tarnishes Switzerland’s good name and reputation,” Gerard wrote. “Glencore is practicing violence, displacing communities, seeking unnecessary cuts from its unionized workforce worldwide, driving down living standards for workers, and destroying communities and cultures.”

The delivery of the letter to the Houston consulate is the first in a series of similar events. Union members across North America will deliver copies of the letter next week to Swiss emissaries in Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Ottawa, San Francisco, Vancouver, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere, as well as to embassies in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, Peru and South Africa.

In May, USW Local 235A members and their global allies visited Switzerland to meet with political leaders and human rights activists and to deliver a message of solidarity at the Glencore annual meeting. In addition to the Sherwin lockout, Glencore has been accused of launching anti-union campaigns against mine workers in South Africa and Colombia, 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.

Click Here for a copy of Gerard’s letter

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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