About 200 members Local Union 4347 of the United Steelworkers staged a sympathy walkout during the day shift at Kennecott Friday in response to the suspension of two union members by the company for refusing to follow a work order.
Don Collard, staff representative for the steelworkers union, said the walkout was an independent action by employees and was not union sanctioned.Collard said union representatives were meeting with Kennecott officials Friday night seeking to get the employees reinstated until the matter can be taken to arbitration.
The walkout was apparently triggered by the way that company officials ordered two workers to perform maintenance on a 500-foot smokestack. In the past, maintenance on the stack has been performed by teams of two. But Friday, employees Tom Whitehouse and Russ Hunn were told to go up the stack one at a time. Both refused and were suspended.
Collard said the workers were within their rights under health and safety provisions of their contract to refuse the assignment and that the company improperly suspended them before their grievances were reviewed.
Kennecott officials could not be reached for comment.