AFL-CIO launches statewide boycott of Crown gas Move protests lockout in Texas

November 15, 1996|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

The Maryland AFL-CIO yesterday said it had launched a statewide boycott of Crown Central Petroleum Corp.'s gasoline to pressure the Baltimore company to end a nine-month lockout of workers at a Pasadena, Texas, refinery.

"Crown is demanding that we give up our jobs as a precondition for reaching a new collective bargaining agreement," said Crown worker Dean Cook in a statement announcing the boycott. "It is difficult to reason with Crown."

Joseph M. Coale, a Crown spokesman, said the boycott amounted to posturing by the union. "Our negotiations are ongoing," he said. "In fact, we're meeting with them [today] in Houston."

He said the boycott was no surprise. "Most companies have labor problems from time to time, and we're not different from anybody else," Coale said.

The lockout affecting about 250 members of the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers union started Feb. 5, when talks broke down over a company proposal to save Crown $2.5 million a year in labor costs.

The company's proposal called for laying off about 29 OCAW members in the plant and cutting the role seniority plays in promotions and layoffs.

Crown says the union sabotaged refinery equipment before the lockout. The company has said the workers painted over or removed safety warnings on some equipment and put sand in some other equipment.

The union has denied any sabotage. A National Labor Relations Board arbitrator found that the company had enough evidence of sabotage to justify a lockout, but not enough to prove the union was responsible for damage.

Workers said they started distributing leaflets and picketing Crown stations in Maryland this week. They said they will next target Crown's Fast Fare and Zippy Mart stores in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.

The union said it will try to avoid hurting individual Crown dealers by not picketing stations that agree to get their gasoline from sources other than Crown.

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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