Union Sues Keystone Cement to Halt Lehigh Hanson Purchase

Union workers at the Keystone Cement Co. plant in Bath, Pa., have filed suit to halt its sale to Lehigh Hanson, alleging the purchase would violate their existing contracts, reported The Morning Call

The union, which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, sued Keystone Cement in U.S. District Court in Easton, Pa., on behalf of about 132 workers in Keystone’s cement and aggregate operations, seeking an injunction to stop the sale until the resolution of grievances. According to the lawsuit, Lehigh Hanson announced that it would not accept or assume the terms of any existing contracts. That would violate a requirement that any new owners or operators of the plant assume the contracts in place at the time of sale, the lawsuit claims.

Lehigh Hanson also said that it would offer employment to all active Keystone employees. According to the lawsuit, the statement implies that the new owners would not offer employment to union members who are on workers’ compensation, other forms of leave or layoff, which would violate the rights of workers to return to work at the plant under the contracts. Further, the union also alleges Lehigh Hanson’s plan to make employees reapply for employment would also violate the contracts, which require that any discharge of an employee must be for “just cause.” 

HeidelbergCement announced last month that its North American subsidiary, Lehigh Hanson Inc., had entered into an agreement to acquire the Keystone plant for $151 million from Giant Cement, the U.S. cement subsidiary of Mexico’s Elementia. The transaction, subject to antitrust regulatory approval, is expected to close in the coming months.

Update: The union has voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit after reaching an understanding with the buyers.

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