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Steelworkers’ resistance secures better contract at Dow Chemical

Members of USW Local 13-1 voted to ratify the new deal, which covers around 235 workers at Dow Chemical’s facility at Deer Park, on 8 October.

It ends months of conflict at the site in Texas, USA, which started when bargaining on a new agreement began in February. The company imposed a seven-week lockout of the workers from April 22 after USW members voted overwhelmingly three times to reject unacceptable proposals. 

The fight of the affected workers was supported with significant solidarity and support from the local community and trade unions.

Locked out Dow Chemical workers at Deer Park, Texas, May 2019

The Dow Dupont North American Labor Council (DNALC), chaired by Kent Holsing of USW, coordinated solidarity support for the Local. IndustriALL is a proud part of that trade union network, and sought to facilitate international support for the Local 13-1 struggle. IndustriALL affiliates from several countries sent solidarity messages to the locked-out workers during the conflict.

Speaking at the 23-26 September 2019 meeting of the DNALC, in Knoxville, Tennessee, Hank Niscavits, Chairman of the workers’ group at Deer Park said: 

“I send a warm message of thanks to the international friends who gave us solidarity in our struggles. Our only demand was for the company to bargain with us in good faith and reach a fair agreement.”

Following the local, national and international solidarity support, the company ended the lock-out on 10 June, and negotiations recommenced.

The DNALC is a strong example of successful trade union networking at a major multinational.  The group provides the space for workers throughout the company to exchange information and to speak to the employer with a collective voice. The group has prioritised protecting members’ jobs and rights through the merger of Dow and DuPont and subsequent spin off into three companies.  The group is currently taking action to reject problems with pay systems.

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Assistant General Secretary said: 

“Solidarity works. Throughout this conflict the Deer Park management has behaved terribly.  The full network, which includes IndustriALL Global Union, has shown that it is ready to stand together and support sisters and brothers treated unfairly at Dow DuPont.  Congratulations to USW Local 13-1 and all those involved in this successful struggle.”

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