CII Carbon lockout ends

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 20, 1998

L’Observateur / May 20, 1998

GRAMERCY – A company lockout of 28 union employees at CII Carbon, Gramercy, ended May 12 after more than seven months, according to a statement by the company’s president.

C. Van Sheets said the lockout was enforced in an effort to protect thecompany’s assets following “significant acts of sabotage,” a press statement said.

“CII decided to lift the defensive lockout upon reaching the decision that the plant could be operated securely with regular employees, following a briefing from District Attorney Tony Falterman regarding the status of an ongoing criminal investigation into the matter.”Several employees allegedly involved in acts of sabotage were suspended prior to termination. The majority of the 28 locked out, however, areexpected to return to work.

While the lockout was going on, the facility continued operations with salaried employees and replacement workers. A union contract expired May22, 1997, and the employees were working without a contract until the lockout.

In a statement to the employees, Sheets added: “CII intends to move forward with workplace changes that keep the business competitive. Weare also committed to a constructive relationship with the USWA, and are pleased that the lockout is ending.”A 10-day period began after the lockout ended, during which time each employee was urged to notify the company of their plans to return to work. A paid training session for each employee will then be held prior totheir return to work.

The training is meant to update employees on plant safety issues and operational changes that have occurred since September 1997 when the lockout began.

All returning employees will be assigned to coke calcining operations, central to plant operations.

The United Steel Workers of America, representing the locked-out employees, filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. That matter is to be resolved before an administrativelaw judge.

Sheets noted, “We believe the defensive lockout was necessary and appropriate to protect CII’s business following acts of sabotage. CIIexpects to prevail against these charges.”Forty-five union employees at CII Carbon’s Norco and Chalmette facilities were not affected by the lockout.

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