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Friday, January 27, 2023



Aug. 17, 2001 — As of Friday afternoon, some 550 members of the United Steelworkers of America Local 8248 were locked out of their jobs for the second day by Hovensa subcontractor Jacobs IMC.
The lockout began Thursday morning after members of Local 8248 rejected a contract at midnight Wednesday. Negotiations between the company and union officials had been going on for two weeks before the vote.
However, both parties were back at the table Friday to try to resolve the disagreements, which, according to Frederick Joseph, USWA subdistrict director, hinged on severance pay, insurance and sick leave.
"We’ve been talking. We’re still negotiating at present," Joseph said Friday. "I am quite optimistic."
Jacobs IMC attorney Les Kelley couldn’t be reached for comment.
V.I. Labor Commissioner Cecil Benjamin said there was some question as to whether the company can legally lock out the employees, because what the parties are negotiating is apparently a merger contract and not a new agreement. Still, he said no unfair labor practice charges have been filed at this point.
"Both sides are eager to reach an agreement," he said, adding that he hoped the impasse would be resolved over the weekend. "The only problem I see is the employees are locked out."
Jacobs IMC is a maintenance contractor at the sprawling Hovensa refinery. According to published reports, Alex Moorhead, Hovensa vice president of human resources, has said Jacobs’ 300 supervisors will be able to handle the workload for a short time. If the lockout continues, however, then the contractor would have to import workers to avoid a maintenance backlog.
Benjamin said that if the impasse continues, the Labor Department could step in and mediate.
"At this time we don’t see a need for it because both sides are back at the table," he said.
At the end of June, Jacobs IMC lost one of its maintenance contracts with Hovensa, forcing the company to lay off 185 workers. The workers, however, were hired by a new company, Triangle Construction and Maintenance.

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