Over 1,000 workers and their families rallied in Meredosia in western Illinois on Labor Day in solidarity with 150 members of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 484. The workers, who manufacture glue, resin and adhesives, have been locked out from Celanese Emulsions since June 5. Margaret Blackshere, president of the Illinois AFL-CIO, Gov. Rod Blagojevich, and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin joined them at the rally.

Celanese Corp. is a global chemical conglomerate. It locked the workers out after they refused to accept a 33 percent wage cut, the elimination of 20 percent of their jobs and reduced health care benefits. Celanese is operating the plant with scabs. Celanese Corpl profits increased by 1,000 percent over the same quarter in 2004.

“The rally is a great boost for morale and solidarity,” Local 484 President Kelly Street told the World. “Now all we hope for is to get back to the table and bargain in good faith.”

Members of AFSCME, Miners, Teachers, and Teamsters unions joined the locked out workers. Local 484 has received solidarity messages from trade unionists around the world, said Street.

Blagojevich told the workers, “You are not alone in this fight. Your fight is our fight. What you are fighting for is right.” Earlier he had signed legislation to allow locked out workers in Illinois to receive unemployment benefits. The Celanese workers will be the first to collect benefits under the new law.

Street said the union had entered into collective bargaining for a new contract in February. At that time Celanese, which purchased the plant in 2004, began demanding big concessions.

“They brought in LeClair Ryan, a big union busting law firm from Virginia. Every time we agreed to a concession they demanded a new concession,” said Street.

Goons from Special Response Services are patrolling Meredosia, recording everything on video, even prying into the worker’s backyards. They are trying to provoke the pickets into altercations, said Local 484 Vice President Randy DeWitt.

A major holder of Celanese is the Blackstone Group, a global investment house with ties to AIG, the insurance giant accused of fraud. The Blackstone Group was Enron’s principal financial advisor with regard to its financial restructuring.

You can donate to the Boilermakers Local 484 Solidarity/Defense Fund at P.O. Box 258/ 300 Main St., Meredosia IL 62665. An online order form and additional information is available at www.lockout484.org. DeWitt also urged supporters to call the Celanese corporate ethical hotline (1-866-ETHICCE) to demand the company bargain in good faith.

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