Drivers and plant operation workers at Airgas have voted unanimously to authorize a strike in a secret ballot vote.

The workers, members of Teamsters Local 100 in Cincinnati, angrily voiced their opinions on the company’s contract proposals that would destroy job security and seniority, as well as remove the workers’ legal rights to honor picket lines.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters has 1.4 million members throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

“Air Liquide’s acquisition, Airgas, has been abusing workers across America by locking them out during contract negotiations, threatening workers with loss of healthcare benefits and wages, and attempting to break its workers’ unions by illegally threatening union activists,” said Keith Gleason, Teamsters Tankhaul Division Director.

Gleason said the union has had a limited, but reasonable working relationship with Air Liquide.

“Voting ourselves out of a job”

“We have reached out to incoming management to keep the working relationship on track, but so far there has been no response. It’s not responsible to employees or shareholders for Air Liquide to take a hands-off approach to the deteriorating labor relations at Airgas,” Gleason said. “The problem at Airgas extends across North America and is putting its business at risk, including current and future pipeline projects.”

“Our contract has been expired for three months. In contract negotiations, Airgas hasn’t even responded to our modest economic proposals. If we go along with what Airgas is demanding, we’d be voting ourselves out of a job,” said Barry Perkins, chief steward and negotiation committee member.

“Airgas is attacking its workers’ fundamental workplace rights. The company has a loyal and dedicated workforce at the Cincinnati facility. There’s no logical reason for the attacks,” said Sam Bucalo, Business Agent with Local 100.

Air Liquide first offered to purchase Airgas in November 2015. Airgas shareholders voted to accept that offer on Feb. 23, 2016.

Read gasworld’s analysis of the Air Liquide/Airgas deal by clicking here.