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As calendar turns, Momentive picket line grows

December 01, 2016 05:49 PM

WATERFORD – It’s been one month since hundreds of workers at Momentive Performance Materials in Waterford went on strike. On Thursday, IUE-CWA Local 81359 was joined by the New York State Professional Firefighters Association on the picket line, saying replacement workers put the community at risk.

The company has countered. In a statement, Momentive says “The safety of our employees and the protection of the environment are of the utmost importance to us.” Read the entire statement below.

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"There's two issues, safety and just the gutting of contracts,” said Sam Fresina, President of the NYS Professional Firefighters Association. “It's a cancer that's spreading throughout labor."

Picketers are maintaining a presence along Route 4 around the clock. The line is watching who crosses; the company is watching the line; Saratoga County Sheriff's Deputies are watching both, including vehicles that go in and out.

"We're trying to solve this problem and get back to work and get everybody back in taking care of this plant before the cold weather hits,” said Dominick Patrignani, Union President. “That's when you're going to see a lot of things happen and that's where it's going to be most dangerous for the community."

This week, a man from Cohoes was charged with filing a false report of a cloud from a possible explosion at the plant he called in November 13. Patrignani says it was an honest mistake and not a scare tactic.

"I actually spent five minutes talking to the guy,” Patrignani said. “He saw something, it was a plume of he believes filler it wasn't reported, that's all I know.

“There's been plenty of calls, not 911, they've been calling the DEC Spill Response Line. Unfortunately, they're in Warrensburg so they have to come down here and do enforcement and it takes time for them to get from Warrensburg."

During a late morning rally, some called for more support from elected officials and other area unions to maintain the pressure on the company.

"They're bringing in replacement workers who are not qualified, they're not certified, they're not trained to handle potential hazardous material issue within these buildings,” Fresina said.

Someone from NYS DEC is on site during the day but if something happens after hours, they have to be called in. As for OSHA, no one is at the plant unless there is a formal complaint filed.

STATEMENT BY MOMENTIVE

The safety of our employees and the protection of the environment are of the utmost importance to us.  That’s why, upon receipt of the strike notice from IUE-CWA leadership, we immediately activated our comprehensive contingency plans, including hiring a trained contingency workforce and leveraging our global assets and inventory.

Production resumed with fully trained and qualified workers on multiple systems across the site within 72 hours after the union began their strike, according to our contingency plans. Production levels will continue to increase in the coming weeks as we train and quality both Momentive contingency operators and temporary replacement workers. This includes assessing that each process is started safely and that all steps are taken to ensure the safe startup and continuing operation of our systems.

Today, the operation of our site is being overseen by our tenured Momentive engineering team and experienced supervisors who once operated the equipment. These process owners and experts who are currently running systems are the same Momentive employees who were responsible for developing our processes and operational and safety guidelines, as well as training our operators. These engineers and supervisors are the same employees the union operators would go to for help or advice during non-strike operations. To supplement our team, we sought out temporary replacement workers who have now been trained and qualified according to the same standards of our own employees. All personnel who operate our processes complete testing and hands-on training, and they qualify to the same standards as our normal operators in full compliance with all regulatory standards.

Our focus remains on the safety of our employees, the environment, and the community.

-TINA REIBER
Director, Corporate Communications
 

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