LIMA — Members of Lima’s local unit of Laborers’ International Union of North America stood across the street from the Cenovus Refinery on Friday morning with a clear message to send: Don’t outsource refinery workers.
The move by the refinery to bring in 3,000 out-of-state workers for the fall turnaround has been met with opposition from LIUNA and the area as a whole. As demonstrators stood on the corner, they were met with supportive honks from nearly every car that passed by.
That support has been felt by the entire organization, and they have no intentions of backing down.
“We’d like to keep going until we can put the local workers back to work. It’s Ohio jobs for Ohio workers,” said Taft Mangas, one of the organizers of Friday’s event. “We keep gaining support everywhere we go, so as long as we have support from the larger community, we feel that we have a duty to keep going.”
Mangas also said LIUNA has been going to community events and knocking on doors to collect petitions in support, gathering more than 1,000 signatures in recent weeks. He said that when his group went to deliver the petition to Cenovus, nobody was able to take it from them, claiming that they were in “morning meetings.”
Cenovus released a statement on the demonstration in Lima, but officials declined to comment any further on the situation.
“We understand the local trades are disappointed not to have been awarded this contract. Between 100-150 trades members are working on site every day as part of our ongoing, daily maintenance contract,” the statement reads. “We continue to hold monthly meetings with the local leadership to support and enhance their chance of success on any future bids, and we hope to continue a constructive relationship with them.”
Workers of all trades and city officials also came out to show their support for the movement. Lima councilor Carla Thompson was at the event, and she stressed the importance of locally sourced jobs creating a stronger city and healthier economy.
“It’s not just the workers that are being affected. It’s their families, it’s their children, it’s the other people in the community that benefit from them having income,” she said. “Providing that to other people is only benefiting other communities. Nothing against them, but we need our community. Our community is struggling right now.”
Thompson also mentioned that safety is another factor in why she supports the union.
“I live near this refinery. I want people that know this refinery working on it,” she said. “I don’t want something bad happening because people aren’t invested or don’t know what they’re doing.”
The next step for both sides will be a town meeting between LIUNA and Cenovus officials next week.