California Teamsters Strike at Chemicals Distributor Brenntag - Modern Distribution Management

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California Teamsters Strike at Chemicals Distributor Brenntag

Eighteen Brenntag warehouse workers and truck drivers have been locked out of the company's Richmond, CA location since May 21. See commentary from both sides here.
Brenntag trucks

Union members of chemicals distributor Brenntag are on strike outside of the company’s chemical facility in Richmond, CA, where Teamsters Local 315 said that employees have been “locked out” since the morning of May 21.

Local 315 includes 18 Brenntag drivers and warehouse workers, according to the union.

In a statement provided to MDM, the company noted that its Brenntag Pacific facility in Richmond received notice that bargaining unit employees represented by Local 315 voted to authorize a strike.

Brenntag confirmed the lockout measure taken and provided the following explanation:

“To ensure business continuity, Brenntag Pacific informed the Union that the company would lock out represented bargaining unit employees from the facility as of Tuesday, May 21. The company has continued to pay the full wages and benefits of all locked out employees up to this point.

Brenntag Pacific instituted its business continuity plan to minimize any impacts to its valuable customers, including local municipalities’ water treatment facilities that provide water to area residents. Brenntag’s business continuity plan is safety focused and utilizes veteran Brenntag professionals who are trained on the processes and procedures necessary to ensure the safety of the facility, employees and the public.”

The Local 315 employees have been in negotiations with Brenntag ever since their previous three-year labor contract expired on Jan. 31.

The union said Brenntag violated a no-lockout clause and locked out the Teamsters employees following their unanimous vote to reject the company’s most recent labor contract proposal, which the union called “substandard.”

“After months of good-faith negotiations and at the Union’s request, Brenntag Pacific presented its last, best and final offer to the Union on May 1,” Brenntag’s statement said, adding that its final offer includes historic wage increases, provides for “exceedingly affordable” healthcare under a union-sponsored plan, and maintains contributions to the union’s pension plan.

“Brenntag Pacific has enjoyed a successful relationship with the Union since 2006, and the company feels its offer is fair to both parties,” Brenntag continued.

Those 18 Teamsters members and supporters held a rally outside of Brenntag Pacific’s plant in Richmond the afternoon of May 24 to “denounce Brenntag’s total disregard for worker safety as the lockout of Teamsters continues,” the union said. Local 315 shared the following Instagram post from that rally:


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Teamsters Local 315 (@teamsters315)

Brenntag’s North American headquarters are in Reading, PA. North America represents the largest chunk of Brenntag SE’s annual revenue at approximately 40%.

Brenntag North America is a subsidiary of Brenntag SE, a major global distributor of chemicals and ingredients. Brenntag Pacific operates as a commodity and specialty chemical distribution company — providing food ingredient products, lubricants and oils, metals, pharmaceuticals, water additives, personal care & cosmetics, as well as coatings, adhesives, sealants, elastomers and inks.

According to its website, Teamsters 315 represents over 4,500 members primarily in California counties of Contra Costa, Napa and Solano.

Brenntag SE reported 2023 revenues of $18.24 billion, down 11% vs. 2022, with the decline attributed to lower pricing and sales volumes. The company had 2023 net profit of $775.5 million and gross profit of $4.4 billion. It has nearly 18,000 employees worldwide across approximately 600 locations in 72 countries.

Brenntag SE is in its 150th year of operation. The company held its annual general meeting virtually on May 23.

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