OCTC has serious concerns with House Bill 235 (HB 235), which could have devastating impacts to our workforce in Ohio's refineries. The bill, currently pending in House Commerce and Labor Committee, would implement an arbitrary hiring quota at Ohio refineries. This quota would mandate that our members hire at least 80% apprenticeship workers for construction and maintenance projects at their sites. While OCTC is supportive of apprenticeship programs as an excellent pathway to develop skills and safety training in the construction trades, apprenticeship is not the only route to develop these important skills. Furthermore, simply being enrolled in an apprenticeship program does not qualify an individual to work at our facilities.
In reality, an apprenticeship requirement would limit the overall workforce that would be eligible to work on these projects. In many instances, this requirement would prohibit Ohio refineries from hiring the most qualified and safest workers for these contracts. Proponents of the bill have supplied no verifiable data that suggests that the requirements under this bill would produce any higher quality results for the industry. The bill will, however, provide a substantial market advantage to the proponents, since they employ the vast majority of workers that would qualify for work under the bill. OCTC believes that the legislature should not be in the business of picking winners and losers, and HB 235 would do precisely that.
Ohio refineries and chemical manufacturers have the utmost regard for the safety of our facilities, especially the employees and contractors whom work in and around our sites. The environmental, health, and safety protocols at our members’ facilities are robust, and our members work tirelessly to continuously improve the checks and balances that keep all our workers safe. The potential consequences of unsafe work practices at our facilities are severe, and thus we take all conversations about worker safety very seriously. Our members create a culture of safety at our facilities, and we pride ourselves in a strong safety performance. Safety data presented by API Ohio in their testimony on HB 235 bears out the tremendous results of Ohio refineries on this front.
OCTC exists to educate policymakers and the public on the industry of chemistry. We do so using science, data, and facts. The proponents of HB 235 have chosen to do the exact opposite. They have continually stoked fears about the safety of our facilities. They have used past incidents at refineries, stripped them of all meaningful context, and pushed a false narrative to tip the scales in their favor. These tactics are disrespectful to every individual who works in the industry of chemistry. Misinformation and other dangerous rhetoric has no place in a productive conversation about workplace safety. It is critical that the Ohio General Assembly take a stand against this behavior.
OCTC looks forward to continuing to work with our legislative leaders to oppose this harmful proposal. Click here to read our opponent testimony on HB 235 here.