Monday, August 25, 2003

Sometimes it's nice to see that we can all get along and work together -- labor, enviros, native Americans -- and get some results.

Labor-Native American Coalition Confronts Taiwanese-Owned Company

Union members, Native Americans and local farmers have come together to confront Taiwanese-owned Continental Carbon Company with charges of environmental pollution, creating public health risks, and causing "economic havoc."

The problem is "carbon black dust that rains-down on their properties and in their homes. This pollution, they claim, has worsened since the company locked out members of Local 5857 of the PACE (Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical & Energy Workers) International Union."
The Ponca Tribe, which was first detected by the Lewis & Clark Expedition, originally settled in Northern Nebraska. According to Tribe Activist Casey Camp, in 1876, they were forced to walk to Oklahoma in the winter for resettlement -- a trek in which one of three died. Today, approximately 2,500 of the 24,000 residents of Ponca City are members of the Tribe. "Where once we died from relocation, today we are being killed with pollution," she said "Our people are dying from cancer and suffering from asthma and congestive heart failure, and why? The answer is because companies like Continental Carbon value their profits more than the lives of our elders and children. The earth, air and water are sacred and too important to be polluted for business profit."
The workers have been locked out by the company for over two years.
Speaking on behalf of the PACE Union was Todd Carlson, the Chairperson of the Locked-Out Workers Committee. Carlson and 85 other employees, all members of PACE, were locked-out of their jobs after they refused to accept severe cuts in pay and benefits that would have cost each employee about $35,000 per year. "Continental Carbon has been allowed to assault the economic health of our community and our environment," he stated, "The reinstatement of a PACE-represented workforce would be a huge step in the right direction to rectify both situations."