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Chemical Unions Form Alliance

Organized Labor: Workers aim for joint action on a variety of workplace, political issues

by Jeff Johnson
March 15, 2004 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 82, Issue 11

Credit: USWA
Credit: USWA

Two of the largest U.S. chemical industry unions announced last week that they are exploring a merger and have meanwhile formed a "strategic alliance" to work closer together on organizing, bargaining, taking political action, and addressing health and safety issues.

Credit: PACE
Credit: PACE

The Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers International Union (PACE) and the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) are industrial unions that have similar histories and many chemical and petroleum industry members, say union officials.

The alliance will formalize cooperative activities already under way, said USWA President Leo W. Gerard in a statement.

PACE has created strategic alliances with several companies, said PACE President Boyd Young in a statement, adding that it made sense to try the same thing with other unions.

Both unions hold members from many industrial sectors, and officials estimate overall U.S. and Canadian membership to be 275,000 for PACE and 600,000 for USWA. Officials estimate union membership in the chemical sector at 20,000–50,000 workers for each union.

Union officials predict that the chemical industry will see a difference through the alliance.

For instance, they say, USWA intends to adopt PACE's rapid-response safety program, which investigates industrial accidents, and its medical screening programs. PACE plans to develop political action and education programs modeled after those of USWA.

The alliance will give the unions a real-world evaluation of what a merger would mean for the membership, say union officials.


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