WATERFORD, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Some local firefighters joined the picket line on Thursday to show their support for workers who are striking for a new contract.
Members from the New York State Professional Firefighters Association joined workers from the Momentive plant in Waterford who’ve been on strike for nearly a month.
Workers at the plant say the company is considering of taking away retiree and medical benefits, but increasing wages. The firefighters are trying to call attention to what they call a public safety threat if inexperienced workers start to run manufacturing operations.
Negotiations started way back in June, but the two sides haven’t come close on a deal and there is no timeline on when a resolution will be reached.
Momentive reached out to News10 ABC with the following statement:
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.