BROWNSVILLE, Texas — Workers are looking to form a labor union at the Port of Brownville. Demonstrations underway outside of the Keppel AmFels shipyard. Workers are demanding better wages and better living conditions for employees.
Outside of Keppel AmFels there is a search for signatures for what some workers and protestors are calling ‘a change to unfair working conditions.’
Jason Medina, Southwest Pipe Trade, recruiter, “We’re here for the workers. We’re here for the employees. We’re here for the blue collared man. This is the beginning of the rebirth of the labor movement here in Brownsville.”
The Southwest Pipe Trade Association has been delivering breakfast and lunch to employees for the past three days. Collecting signatures before and after regular work hours. They claim that their goal is to be able to negotiate benefits for employees. It’s a mission that started specifically for pipefitters, but now that offer extends to all employees.
Chad Tomlin, Southwest Pipe Trade, lead organizer, “They don’t recognize an appropriate unit in the pipe fitting industry inside of a shipyard. It’s a non-traditional ship trade. Our last-ditch effort is to represent all 650.
They plan to get 30 percent of an approximate 650 employees before a vote can be conducted to begin the union process. So far about 10 percent are on board.
Leonard Aguilar, Southwest Pipe Trade Association, “The main thing is that the worker that we represent all go to work in the morning, all come home at the end of the day with all 10 fingers and all 10 toes. That type of thing. Go home safe to their families.”
“Working conditions, safety, wages, and a retirement so that one days these guys can retire. Right now, they now they have none of that. They just work until they can’t.” adds Tomlin.
Union supporters claim they will continue to collect the necessary signatures for as long as necessary in order to begin the next step.
The southwest pipe trades Association serves New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. In Brownsville they’ve joined forces with the Brownsville Firefighters’ Union in support of local workers.