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Two Largest Chemical Industry Unions Merge

by Alexander H. Tullo
January 17, 2005 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 83, Issue 3


The largest North American union representing chemical workers, the Paper, Allied Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers International Union (PACE), has agreed to merge with the second largest, the United Steelworkers of America (USWA).

The new union will have about 825,000 active members--275,000 from PACE and 550,000 from USWA. Each union has 20,000 to 50,000 chemical workers. Its new name is the United Steel, Paper & Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial & Service Workers International Union, or USW for short.

USWA International President Leo W. Gerard will lead the new union. "It will be the dominant union in the cross-section of the most important industries in North America," Gerard said in a conference call.

The unions say merging will give them more clout for bargaining, a $150 million legal defense fund, and a $30 million-per-year organizing budget. Members will vote on the merger in April.

Boyd Young, president of PACE and executive vice president of the new union, said that unions need to keep pace with their employers. "Our companies are merging and going global, and I believe we are going to have to do the same."

The chemical industry has a particular need to consolidate its labor representation, Gerard added. "Chemical companies have consolidated a lot over the last 20 years and have also been more global," he said. "We have been fragmented in the labor movement. We haven't been effective in organizing new chemical workers."


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