Cement plant racks up 87 safety citations
MEMBERS OF LOCAL D455 working at the Buzzi Unicem cement plant at Selma, Mo., set up informational pickets near the plant entrance recently to protest unsafe working conditions. Since the first of the year, the Italian-owned plant has racked up 87 citations from the Mine Safety and Health Administration. MSHA has proposed over $72,000 in penalties so far this year.
Located along the Mississippi River about 40 miles south of St. Louis, the plant is in the midst of an upgrade and expansion designed to increase capacity from 1.3 million tons of cement annually to 2.3 million tons. Employees say the company is forcing overtime on workers to keep up production at the existing facility until the new, adjacent operation comes on line.
“Cement-making is a very dangerous occupation,” said Carey Allen, CLGAW Director. “When you force 12–hour shifts on workers in this occupation — and then cut corners on the maintenance of conveyors and heavy milling equipment — you are creating a hazardous situation. Obviously MSHA agrees, considering the number of citations the federal agency has handed down against the company.”
L-D455 has created a solidarity committee to deal with the safety issues as well as ongoing contract negotiations. The local’s informational pickets are designed to alert the public to the unsafe working conditions.