DEER PARK, TX—On Monday, following an impasse in negotiations, Dow Inc. locked out 226 employees represented by the United Steelworkers at its chemical plant in Deer Park, Texas.
“Our Deer Park site will continue to operate in the safe and reliable manner our neighbors, employees and customers have come to expect of us; but it will be without the United Steelworkers after 2 p.m. on April 22nd,” Dow spokeswoman Ashley Mendoza said on Monday.
“The company’s decision to lock its doors on these hard-working union members is reckless and irresponsible,” said Ruben Garza, director of the union’s District 13, which includes Texas and three neighboring states. “These workers have been bargaining with this company in good faith to reach a fair agreement, and now, through no fault of their own, they find themselves on a picket line.”
The union and the company had been operating under a 24-hour rolling extension of the current collective bargaining agreement while negotiations on a new contract continued, according to a union press release.
According to the National Labor Relations Board, employers are legally permitted to lock out employees where the “sole purpose in doing so is to bring economic pressure to bear in support of a legitimate bargaining position.”
Dow Chemical Co, informed the union last week that it would lock the workers out if they could not reach a deal by 2 p.m. Monday, the Steelworkers stated.
Dow has twice made contract proposals it called “last, best and final.” The first was rejected by 96 percent of the membership and the second by 98 percent, said Lee Medley, president of Local 13-1, which represents the Dow workers, reported the New York Times.
“In the short term, the lockout is not expected to significantly affect the markets for those specialty chemicals,” reported the Houston Chronicle on Wednesday, “but it could in the long term if the labor dispute drags on, according to the energy research firm Wood Mackenzie.”
Locked out workers are taking shifts to picket outside the Deer Park plant hoping to end the dispute.