THREE FORKS – Nearly three dozen workers and their families were on the picket line in Three Forks on Friday morning after they were locked out of Imerys Talc America.
Imerys, a company based in France, took over the plant about seven years ago. They are taking away the union workers’ retiree insurance, seniority, overtime clauses, as well as altering their work rules and classifications.
The union workers didn’t ratify the new contract with the company, and as of 7 p.m. Thursday 35 union workers were locked out of their jobs.
The union workers haven’t stopped protesting since the lockout.
“We’re not happy that they’re coming in to take our jobs. We’re not striking, they took us out and told us they didn’t want us there,” said Rendy Tocci, president of Boilermakers Local D-239.
“We’re willing to go to work tomorrow as long as they change their conditions and try to come to the table and change some of the things they’re negotiating for that we’re not agreeing with,” Tocci said.
These workers say they haven’t been happy with the company since they came in.
“This is the most disgusting company I have ever worked for. They are so unethical, liars and greed. Nothing but greed,” said Denny Delaittre, a union worker of 22 years. “We were kicked out of our jobs, not our choice. We want to work, we tried to work but they won’t let us cross. We have families to support.”
The union workers and their families have no intention of ending the protest.
“We have to stand here and let the company know we’re not happy that they’ve locked us out. We’ve got 35 families who no longer have an income,” Tocci said.
Randy Toohey, a spokesperson for Imerys, issued a statement that reads in part, “After repeated attempts to reach a fair and reasonable agreement, Imerys was deeply disappointed when the Boilermakers rejected our final offer.”
Reporting by Emma Hamilton for MTN News