After over 100 years of using local workers during planned shutdowns at a Lima, Ohio refinery, 3,000 out-of-state workers will be brought in instead. The workers will be brought in by Cenovus Energy, which purchased the refinery earlier this year, to conduct inspections, cleaning and equipment replacement.
Mike Knisley, Secretary/Treasurer of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, joined America’s Work Force Union Podcast to discuss the council’s push to get Cenovus to reconsider the move and why he thinks those talks will ultimately prevail.
He also discussed the recent Ohio State Building Trades Convention and how Ohio manages to be fairly union friendly despite its Republican controlled government.
Union leader believes Lima refinery owner will ultimately reconsider approach
The shutdown of the Lima refinery begins next week, so the company’s plans to bring in 3,000 out-of-state workers will likely happen, Knisley said. But he believes that ultimately the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council and area building trades unions will be victorious in its push to get the company to reconsider outsourcing the work in future years.
The out of state contractors come from across the Gulf Coast, including Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, Knisley stated. Their wages and tax dollars will be used to benefit areas outside of Lima, while the majority of workers they are replacing live in or near the community. The move places a considerable drain on the local economy, he said.
But Knisley believes Cenovus Energy will ultimately reconsider due to the overwhelming community support on the issue. When the smoke clears, the company will realize its mistake, he said.
Ohio State Building Trades Convention convenes in person
Knisley also discussed the Ohio State Building Trades Convention recently held in Columbus. The event was supposed to occur last year but was postponed due to COVID-19.
The speakers were the highlight of the convention, Knisley stated. Gov. Mike DeWine was a featured speaker, as well as Ohio’s U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown.
Despite Republican leadership, Ohio is friendly to unions
Though Ohio is a state controlled by the Republican party, it remains relatively pro-union, Knisley said. Over the past year, not a single piece of anti-union legislation passed the Ohio House or Senate. Aside from Pennsylvania, the majority of states surrounding Ohio have all passed anti-worker legislation including so-called “Right to Work” laws.