Workers at the Pennsylvania petrochemical plant, where President Donald Trump spoke on Tuesday, were told that if they did not attend the event, they had to use their vacations or not receive any payment for that day.
At least some of the workers who attended the speech were instructed not to protest against the president, who told the crowd of workers at the Royal Dutch Shell plant that he would be imploring his union leaders to support his re-election.
The instructions for the workers came in a note, a copy of which was obtained by Polo Sandoval, of CNN, from a source in Congress. That source received the memo from a person in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, where the plant is located.
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“Your assistance is not mandatory. This will be considered an excused absence. However, those who do NOT attend will not receive overtime pay on Friday, ”reads part of the memo.
Shell spokesman Curtis Smith confirmed that workers were told that they would also miss some overtime pay if they missed the event. Shell said he did not write the memo.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette , which first reported on the memorandum and the ultimatum to the workers, reported that a contractor sent the information to the workers based on a memo that Shell sent to the union workers. Smith, the spokesman for Shell, said that the language in the memorandum related to workers’ behavior, such as not protesting, did not originate in the language transmitted by the company.
“It was understood that some would choose not to attend the presidential visit and were given the option of taking paid time off (PTO). As with any work week, if someone chooses to take PTO, they are not eligible to receive maximum overtime, ”Smith, the Shell spokesman, told CNN.
Trump’s speech on Tuesday was an official White House event, not a speech sponsored by the re-election campaign. Trump told the audience at the plant on Tuesday that they should expel their union leaders if they refused to support him.
“I’m going to talk to some of their union leaders to tell them: ‘I hope they support Trump.” Well? ”Said Trump.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment. Steamfitters Local 449, a union mentioned in the Post-Gazette, also did not respond to CNN’s request for comments.
“This is just what Shell wanted to do and we accepted it,” Ken Broadbent, commercial manager of Steamfitters Local 449, told the newspaper.
Cindy Kerr is a reporter for The Social Business News Kat has previously interned at VICE and worked as a reporter for MSNBC.