Employees at a new Shell plant in Pennsylvania say were forced to attend a recent speech by President Donald Trump in order to get paid, according to a report from the Pittsburg Post-Gazette.
The event, which took place at the new Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex in Western Pennsylvania on Tuesday, was filled with employees from the plant.
But now many are saying they were told that their pay was contingent on them showing up to the speech. Union workers who didn’t show up had to forfeit their pay of up to $700 in pay and benefits, similar to if they had opted to skip work for the day, according to the Post-Gazette.
They were also told “no yelling, shouting, protesting or anything viewed as resistance will be tolerated at the event. An underlying theme of the event is to promote goodwill from the unions. Your building trades leaders and jobs stewards have agreed to this,” the newspaper reports.
When asked bout the event, a Shell spokesperson told Business Insider that the workday “was treated as a training (work) day with a guest speaker who happened to be the President.”
“We do these several times a year with various speakers,” spokesman Curtis Smith said. “The morning session (7-10 AM) included safety training and other work-related activities.”
Ken Broadbent, a business manager for Steamfitters Local 449, told the Post-Gazette, “this is just what Shell wanted to do and we went along with it.” He said that workers who didn’t want to show up for work that day were free to do so because “this is America.”
The $6 billion plant, located outside of Pittsburg, is scheduled to open in early 2020 and will focus on producing plastic from ethane.