How to find out which chemical plants are union shops in La./Tx.
June 15, 2014 6:44 AM   Subscribe

How do I figure out what chemical plants in Houston-Beaumont-Port Arthur and South Louisiana are union shops?

I recently found out that many of the chemical plants along the Texas Gulf Coast are union shops. I had no idea. I am now interested in doing a little research into the history of unions in this region in this sector. The problem is that I am drawing a blank when it comes to where to start.

1) Apart from, is there a clearinghouse labor website?
2) Is there a state or federal database or website?
3) ???

I will start at 4 and 5 if Metafilter doesn't have ideas about 1, 2, or 3.

4) Get the names of major plants from websites of area Chambers of Commerce.
5) Find the national associations and advocacy groups (PACs) representing chemical refiners and look at their position paper on unions.


1) I am an academic historian so I don't need general tips on research.
2) The Chemical Heritage Foundation site has no resources relevant to this query.
3) I am traveling and at this point I'd prefer to poke around online than consult a librarian.

Interesting articles, anecdotes, and other information about union activity in South Louisiana/Southeast Texas in oil/gas and closely related industries are also welcome.
posted by CtrlAltD to Grab Bag (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The wiki article on the Oil, Chemical, and Atomic Workers International Workers Union is probably a decent jumping off point. There is a cite for a book published by the union itself on its history pre 1950. As well as some basic background.

It sounds like unionization dates back to the early days of the oil industry down there. Which I think means it predates right-to-work laws and all that is rolled up in that.
posted by JPD at 6:55 AM on June 15, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wellp, the old OACW merged into the United Steelworkers, so I'd start there. Louisiana and Texas are in USW District 13 and have locals in a number of the cities you're talking about.
posted by graymouser at 6:58 AM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

The other thing to keep in mind is that nearly all of the refineries and chemical plants were built more than 50 years ago. The last complex refinery built in that region was in 1976 and is not AFAIK unionized.
posted by JPD at 7:06 AM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Contact the USW directly, as graymouser suggested. Also, the National Labor Relations Board presumably oversaw the representation elections, and probably has this info. It's possible the US DOL might have it too.
posted by univac at 2:26 PM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

Contact the state AFL-CIOs for LA and TX, they can put you in touch with the relevant locals (likely USW locals, mentioned above).
posted by cushie at 9:53 PM on June 15, 2014 [1 favorite]

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