Workers at Global Partners, a fuel distribution center in South Portland, have voted to unionize. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Global employees in South Portland who work with heating oil, asphalt, kerosene and other fuels have unanimously voted to unionize amid growing concerns about workplace safety, wages and job security.

The eight employees, unionized under the United Steel Workers, work at Global Partners’ South Portland Terminal, a distribution center for asphalt and heavy oil on Casco Bay.

The employees are looking to address working conditions, including instances of outdated equipment, that they say company executives can’t fully understand because they don’t see the day-to-day of working directly in the terminal.

“There’s a few things safety-wise, that are pretty major that were really obvious and extremely dangerous,” Global terminal operator Colton Carr said. “We’re the ones seeing what’s really going on and it’s going be one of us that gets hurt or killed.”

Carr said employees have brought concerns about outdated equipment to management previously, but received no response – and that’s the impetus for starting a union.

A spokesperson with Global said there was “a potential equipment issue identified by an employee,” but that an inspection and “extensive testing” found “no issues found, no repairs needed and the state Inspector has signed off on its fitness for service.”


“We do not believe that this issue is associated with the vote to unionize,” spokesperson Catie Kerns said.

The company does plan to “respect the vote of the employees” and prepare for collective bargaining.

Four years ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency filed a lawsuit against Global for allegedly violating the Clean Air Act by exceeding licensed emissions limits for volatile organic compounds, which can cause air pollution, breathing problems and cancer.

Carr, however said that the current safety concerns sparking this unionization effort have little to do with what happened in 2019.

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