Washington, DC & Baton Rouge, LA – April 19, 2021 – North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) and the Baton Rouge Building & Construction Trades Council (BCTC) today announced their opposition to the proposed Formosa Plastics petrochemical complex located in St. James Parish. The proposed site has been plagued by controversy since it was first announced.
“North America’s Building Trades Unions (NABTU) support economic projects that create middle-class jobs and advance America’s standing in the world,” says Sean McGarvey, President of NABTU. “We are bipartisan and pride ourselves on our ability to work with both political parties. But the proposed Formosa Plastics complex in St. James Parish is too controversial for us to support.”
According to Jonathan Waddell, President of the Baton Rouge BCTC, “The risks to the communities and the inadequate labor standards of the Formosa plant far outweigh any possible economic benefit claimed by the foreign company behind this potentially very dangerous project. It is time for all federal, state and local authorities to say ‘NO!’ to the Formosa Plant.”
The proposed complex in St. James Parish is adjacent to a low-income, predominantly African American community and “will be built next to a church and the last school in its census tract.” Long-time residents of the community oppose the project as “environmental racism.” The project also threatens a historic cemetery.
The controversies plaguing Formosa’s proposed St. James project are similar to troubles plaguing the company globally and throughout the United States. News coverage says that the company, after facing a “crackdown” in its native Taiwan, turned its attention to the U. S. Gulf Coast region. Based on the company’s performance in Texas, one judge described Formosa as a “serial polluter” and another observer warned, “It’s terrible what Formosa Plastics did to Texas.” The company has been assessed over $22 million through settlements, fines, and penalties by U.S. EPA, OSHA, the Federal Railroad Administration and state environmental agencies in Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Texas for environmental and health and safety violations in the United States since 2000.
Formosa Plastics has failed to commit to hiring and training practices that would ensure middle-class job opportunities for local residents. Inadequate labor, training and safety standards would put the plant and nearby communities at additional risk.