I grew up one of eight children.
Our father was a hard-working non-union electrician and we didn’t have much money.
If I wanted things that some of the other kids had, I had to find a way to get the money to buy them. I started working at Frisch’s Big Boy when I was 14. After I graduated high school I got a job at Clark Equipment. After about a year I bid on Building 13, where I was on final assembly on cranes. I enjoyed this job, as it entailed so many different things to assemble on the cranes. However, the plant closed within a few years.
There were plant closings everywhere at that time. The city that once had well-paying, decent jobs was changing.
It started to become very difficult to find those decent-paying jobs in Lima. Sheller Globe was hiring, so I applied. I ended up getting the job and I worked on the bus line. The work wasn’t as enjoyable as Clark, but it was a job. I quickly realized how lucky I was given that there weren’t very many jobs left in the area. Once again, however, a few years later, Sheller Globe too closed their doors and went out of business.
I eventually found work as a union laborer. I started at the refinery on one of the shutdowns. I cleaned the many tanks and vessels countless times without the proper training or safety equipment that is utilized today. Back in those days, safety and training wasn’t enforced like it is today. I worked as a union laborer for 12 years.
After working out of the Laborers’ Union, I joined the Plumbers & Pipefitters Union, where I started as an apprentice. I worked for UA Local 776 for 22 years, mostly as a pipefitter. Most of my work was at the Lima Refinery before I retired early on disability.
My father wasn’t a union man, but all eight of his children were union. Unions don’t make people rich, but they do make life better for those who are good at working with their hands and know college isn’t for them. Thanks to my union brothers and sisters, I received my Laborers and Plumbers & Pipefitter pension from my time at Local 329 and Local 776. Along with both pensions, I was also able to get my Social Security. I am extremely grateful to have my pension in my condition so I can enjoy retirement.
Cenovus Energy has come out with many different reasons why they contracted out of state workers to do the turnaround. At the end of the day, the bottom line is that they are all baseless lies. The real reason is to save money. We have highly skilled workers who go through apprenticeships accredited by the US Department of Labor. We have men and women who are currently working on the maintenance team for the refinery who do this work every single day. These men and women are our neighbors, friends and family. They pay taxes to our schools and support our community.
The work at the refinery is very dangerous and shouldn’t be trusted to the cheapest bidder, but rather to the safest and most skilled. If we don’t support Ohio jobs for Ohio Workers, then who will?
Tim Stevenson is a resident of Harrod and a retiree from U.A. Local 776.