During a recent press conference, Lima Building and Construction Trades Council President Rick Perdue, who is also a Sheet Metal Workers Local 24 Business Representative, confirmed the Lima Husky refinery does not intend to use union construction workers during its fall turnaround.
The fall turnaround, which was the largest preventative maintenance project scheduled at the plant this year, will be performed by “turnaround specialists” instead of the building trades members who have worked on the facility for years.
“Building trades members have been working at the refinery for many generations,” said Perdue. “Our members know the plant inside and out.”
The decision by the refinery will not only deprive 3,000 regional building trades members of jobs and income, but it will also hurt others whose jobs support those local men and women who work during the turnaround, including students in trade schools.
In the Lima Building Trades jurisdiction, work has been slow. Between tradesmen and tradeswomen not working due to COVID-19 or for a lack of work, the fall turnaround was seen as a way to help refurbish unemployment.
“They need to work to rebuild their unemployment,” Perdue added.
He said this move by the refinery will hurt the entire community and create a negative economic impact on the region.
“It means people will not be buying cars, paying property taxes, buying homes, etc. This is a big economic impact to the community and northwest Ohio. It will affect the building trades members who live up near Toledo, but travel down here for the refinery work and it will affect the kids in school, who are hoping to get into the trades,” said Perdue.
The move by the Lima Husky Refinery will not hit Sheet Metal Workers Local 24 as hard as some of the other trades. Members of SMW Local 24 do a small amount of fabrication for the turnaround, but this is a small amount of hours compared to the hours that will be lost by those who work as welders, pipefitters, carpenters, laborers and millwrights.
At this point, Perdue is hopeful the continued talks with the refinery’s management team will get union construction workers some hours during the turnaround.
“If they were against the union, they would not be talking with us,” Perdue stated.
Some good has come out of the talks, as he has learned members of the building trades will be doing other scheduled work at the plant this year, but not the turnaround.