Members of Local D239 in Three Forks, Montana, man the picket line outside the Imerys Talc facility that locked them out August 2. Lodge president Randy Tocci holds a toy unicorn, referencing Montana Governor Steve Bullock’s assertion to the media that the lockout is a “unicorn” in Montana — a rare occurrence. The last lockout in the state happened in the 1980s.
Local community, nationwide and global support pours in after French multinational demands cuts to pensions, healthcare
THIRTY-FIVE LOCAL D239 Boilermakers in Three Forks, Montana, have been locked out at Imerys Talc America since August 2, their families going without paychecks and more after the French-owned company served up “last, best and final” contract demands that removed critical benefits.
“We want to keep working and honor our commitments while we continue the bargaining process with Imerys, and we’re open to mediation,” says L-D239 President Randy Tocci, who has worked at the talc mill for 38 years. “But we’ve been locked out because of corporate greed, pure and simple.”
At issue: Multinational Imerys’ proposed contract sought to freeze workers’ defined benefit pension, slash a 401(k) program, end health insurance for future retirees, eliminate seniority provisions and reduce overtime pay, among other cuts and changes that would negatively impact workers. Tocci notes that average length of service among the workers is about 25 years, and Imerys’ Three Forks operation is among the company’s most productive plants.
L-D239 immediately set up a picket line outside the talc mill and has been manning it nonstop since the early August lockout. And they’ve received a lot of support: The local community; local, state and federal political leaders (including, Montana Governor Steve Bullock), the Montana AFL-CIO, other Boilermakers and International staff have joined or visited the picket line, rallying around the workers and their families. Governor Bullock and U.S. Senator Jon Tester both sent formal letters imploring Imerys to return to the bargaining table. U.S. Senator Steve Daines also expressed his support. Nationwide shows of support have been constant on social media under the banner #StandWithThreeForks. IndustriALL Global Union has also participated, applying pressure to Imerys through its network and formal letters of support for L-D239.
“We are grateful and moved by the support and generosity that’s been shared with us,” Tocci says. “From food and monetary donations, to the many people who’ve stopped by to stand with us. It’s a motivator to know that so many people care about what’s happening to us — to our families. So many people have our backs.”
The International has set up a fund to assist L-D239 members and their families and is providing ongoing public relations and social media support, strategic planning and corporate research, legal consultation, and more. In addition, International staff have been on the ground with the local, as well as offsite coordinating outreach with the media, elected officials and labor organizations.
“Supporting our Local D239 brothers and sisters is a priority,” says Tyler Brown, Industrial Sector Operations Executive Director. “This is yet another case in America of a major multinational company looking to increase its profits on the backs of the American workers who are responsible for what’s made the company successful in the first place. It seems Imerys Talc would rather pad its own pockets and those of its shareholders than do what’s right and fair by its workers. What Imerys is doing is harsh and unfair.”