Compass Minerals shareholder meeting draws union demonstrators
About 25 members of the United Steelworkers and union supporters held a demonstration at the annual shareholders meeting of Compass Minerals to protest collective bargaining issues and the alleged mistreatment of a worker at the company’s salt mine in Louisiana.
The Overland Park company’s North American Salt subsidiary operates a mine in Cote Blanche, La., that employs about 100 steelworkers union members.
Following a brief strike in 2010, the union filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board. An administrative law judge then ruled that the company acted illegally in implementing new employment terms without worker approval, according to a statement from the union. The union said the judge ordered the company, among other things, to bargain in good faith and reimburse employees for any lost income. Talks are continuing.
In addition, last fall, according to the union, the company fired Derrick Forestier, a decorated veteran, for allegedly attending a mandatory Veterans Administration meeting even though he had told the company before being hired that he needed to attend these appointments.
“Compass Minerals needs to heed our message and ensure that its subsidiary obeys labor law and reinstates Derrick Forestier with back pay,” Mark Migues, president of USW Local 14425 said in a statement.
Compass issued a statement following the shareholder meeting, in which it said it “believes it acted properly when negotiations with the United Steelworkers Union reached an impasse in 2010. We were disappointed by an administrative law judge’s recommendation and plan to appeal. Nevertheless, the Cote Blanche mine’s workforce continues to operate safely and productively to provide rock salt to keep America’s roadways safe.”
Concerning Forestier, Compass said it would not discuss details of personnel issues. “But all new miners are subject to a standard probationary period. Mr. Forestier was not terminated for his medical needs nor his military service. We are grateful for Mr. Forestier’s service to our country and deeply respect the sacrifices that he and all U.S. veterans have made. The Cote Blanche salt mine is proud to be actively recruiting returning service personnel.”