WATERFORD, N.Y.—IUE-CWA Locals 81359/81380, which represent about 700 Momentive Performance Materials Inc. employees currently on strike at Waterford, received support from 27 environmental and health officials urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to involve himself in the labor negotiations.
The union and Momentive have been involved in a labor standoff since the Locals began their strike on Nov. 2.
The first letter from 21 environmental authorities, dated Jan. 30, urged the governor to step in and prevent a "chemical disaster in this community by ensuring strict monitoring and oversight of all current operation at MPM during the strike and to do what you can to get the experienced union work force back on the job."
A separate letter from six public health advocates, dated Feb. 1, had a similar message, citing the potential dangers of hazardous chemicals used at the facilities if mishandled.
Momentive began using replacement workers at Waterford once the union went on strike. In turn, the union alleged that spills have increased tenfold compared to the prior year's period, claims that are denied by the company. A Momentive spokeswoman reaffirmed that operations at the plant are overseen by the firm's tenured engineering team and experienced supervisors.
"We develop and implement rigorous processes and procedures to protect the health and safety of our employees. We take preventative actions to diminish risk to our employees' health, eliminating or reducing exposure to hazardous raw materials whenever possible," she said in an email.
Spokeswomen for both the union and Momentive said no progress has been made since talks broke off Jan. 11, when the company rejected a counterproposal endorsed by both locals. They said there are no plans currently to resume negotiations.