Locked Out MonoSol Teamsters in Indiana Cite Troubling Pattern of Racial and Gender Discrimination
LA PORTE, Ind., Dec. 16, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Today, Teamsters Local 135 filed a charge on behalf of workers against MonoSol with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), in response to a troubling pattern of racial and gender discrimination at the company.
MonoSol produces water-soluble, biodegradable films used to make concentrated laundry and dishwasher packets, including Procter & Gamble’s Tide Pods and Cascade dishwasher pods. The company is a division of Japan-based Kuraray Co. Ltd. [TYO: 3405]
According to the EEOC charge, MonoSol employees report supervisors using the “n-word;” calling workers monkeys; and disciplining Black workers more harshly than non-Black workers. The workers report their complaints about racist behavior fall on deaf ears with management. Additionally, MonoSol employees report the company has attempted to screen out minority job applicants and failed to properly address sexual harassment in the workplace.
“Having a feeling at your job that you’re not equal to others because of your race is beyond disgusting,” said Lamont Hodges, a 13-year caster mixer at MonoSol.
In a survey completed by 92 MonoSol employees in La Porte:
- 79 percent listed racial discrimination as a type of discrimination they have observed or witnessed while working at MonoSol, while 50 percent listed gender discrimination as a type of discrimination they have observed or witnessed while working at MonoSol;
- 62 percent of respondents reported they’ve witnessed or experienced discrimination or harassment based on race, sex (gender), national origin, disability, or LGBTQ status at MonoSol; and
- 66 percent replied that if they reported concerns about discrimination or harassment at MonoSol, top leadership would “never” or “rarely” take corrective action.
The alleged conduct violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on race and sex and prohibits retaliation against individuals for complaining about such conduct.
“Our brave members at MonoSol are ready to take a stand to transform MonoSol into a company that truly respects its employees and isn’t an embarrassment to its customers, including companies like Procter & Gamble,” said Dustin Roach, Local 135 President-Elect. “Teamsters Local 135 won’t stand by silently and allow MonoSol to violate our members’ rights.”
“I am angered and disappointed to hear how MonoSol is treating Teamster members,” said Anthony Rosa, Director of the Teamsters Human Rights and Diversity Commission. “Everyone has the right to go to work, do their jobs, and not be harassed or discriminated against. We do not and will not tolerate our members being treated as less than because of their race or gender. I call on the EEOC to investigate these charges immediately.”
Local 135’s MonoSol members have been in negotiations for a new contract since November 1. On November 26, they rejected the company’s last, best, and final offer. The proposal would not have ended the company’s practice of forcing employees to work up to 22 mandatory overtime hours per week and up to four mandatory overtime hours per day under threat of dismissal. When the contract expired on November 30, MonoSol locked out the workers without pay.
MonoSol’s system of forced labor may violate Kuraray’s obligations under the United Nations Global Compact to which it is a signatory. Local 135 sent Procter & Gamble a letter earlier this month asking the corporation to investigate MonoSol’s labor practices throughout the United States.
Two prominent international legal experts, including a former Deputy Secretary General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), are currently investigating MonoSol’s system of forced overtime. Additionally, interviews with Teamsters indicate that MonoSol consistently fails to disclose the use of forced overtime to newly hired employees, possibly further violating employees’ right to free and informed consent, as outlined in the commonly accepted definition of forced labor under the ILO.
Dustin Roach, (463) 217-6041