USW Gets Rights To Photos Of Safety Hazards At DuPont Facility

Lawsuit settled; photos show unsafe work conditions at Niagara Falls facility.

The United Steelworkers (USW) has settled a lawsuit with DuPont over 20 photographs of potential safety hazards at the company's Niagara Falls facility.

The Western U.S. District Court granted the USW rights to the photographs after the union agreed to redact the parts that DuPont argued revealed trade secrets.

DuPont was suing USW and a union representative for $15 million.

"For a company that proclaims to be one of the safest in the world, it's not surprising that the company would go to such great lengths to prevent the release of these photos," said Jim Briggs, USW international representative. "They show the unsafe conditions workers encounter day-to-day."

Pictures of such things as an instrument electrical line running through water and chemical dust hazards were given to the union from an anonymous source. DuPont learned about the pictures during a union-management meeting about an employee accident in which a woman was seriously burned.

In 2004, an administrative law judge ruled DuPont violated federal law when it failed to provide the union's safety specialist access to the facility. The judge found that DuPont knew of the union's complaints of dangerous conditions, "but either tried to avoid their existence or their seriousness or tried to avoid their being investigated by a trained expert as the union has requested." USW gained access in 2005 and is currently evaluating violations observed during the tour.

"Safety has been a paramount concern for the union especially because of three major incidences in the last two years," said Marty Freeburg, USW Local 4-5025 President. "DuPont can't continue to try to hide our concerns."

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