Labor Trades squeezed out after decades of refinery work

The Labor Citizen strives to inform Ohio tradesmen and tradeswomen about the issues around the state affecting the union construction industry. Labor Citizen Editor Tom Germuska Jr. joined the AWF Union Podcast to discuss issues at a refinery in Lima, a successful union project and an apprentice competition.

Union workers left out of Lima refinery

Germuska previewed a story about local union workers being denied turnaround work in a refinery in Lima, Ohio after new owners, Cenovus, purchased the facility. For over 135 years, generations of union building trades members completed maintenance, inspection and other turnaround work at the refinery.

Laborers International Union of North America Local 329 has taken it upon themselves to advocate for the union workers by contacting and engaging local elected officials. They have made it their mission to get local entities to publicly vote to support a resolution against the use of non-union labor at the Cenovus refinery.

The Laborers argue that using local, union labor is good for the local economy. The work generates tax revenue, which is invested back into the local economy. When non-union out-of-state labor is used, the tax dollars leave with them.

Germuska also said the work could be a safety concern. Local union workers have been in this refinery for generations and know it like the back of their hands. Bringing in new, cheaper workers to handle the work will certainly raise safety issues.

Cleveland-Cliffs expansion

Ohio politicians and other industry professionals gathered in Toledo to mark six months of continuous operation at the new facility owned and operated by Cleveland-Cliffs, Inc. Union tradesmen and tradeswomen, who worked under a National Maintenance Agreement, safely built the new $1 billion steel production plant.

Germuska said the facility is unique, as it meets the demands of the future. While many manufacturing facilities produce and release smoke into the atmosphere, the Cleveland Cliffs facility will release steam. He added that the plant is currently running on natural gas with the ability to run on hydrogen in the future.

U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur and other politicians praised the union construction workers for their hard work on the facility.

Bricklayer apprentices place in competition

Three Ohio Bricklayer apprentices placed in an national competition, with one bringing home the championship in his respective division.

After a one year hiatus, the Mason Contractors Association of America Skills Challenge returned to Las Vegas. The apprentices competed in scorching heat, as they constructed structures respective to their apprenticeship progress.

Out of all the union and non-union bricklayer apprentices, one Ohio apprentice finished first in his division, another finished second and another placed third.


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