WESTVILLE | No local union workers on the Enbridge Energy pipeline extension through Indiana and Michigan were involved in a brawl triggering a response from police near Westville.
And, there were no lay-offs that touched off the fighting, but some people did get fired over safety violations, according to Jennifer Smith, public affairs adviser for Canada-based Enbridge Energy.
"It's a shame that an isolated incident like that is going to give that whole crew a bad rap. They are really just the hardest working group of people and they have big hearts," said Smith on Thursday.
About 800 workers were attending a weekly safety meeting Monday morning along U.S. 421 in Westville at the temporary headquarters for Precision Pipeline, the Eau Claire, Wis.-based company in charge of extending the new pipeline that will bring greater volumes of heavy crude in from Canada.
Smith said "five or six" pipeline specialists with a union based in Oklahoma were relieved from their jobs due to safety violations uncovered by in-house inspectors.
The firings touched off some fighting that resulted in LaPorte County police being called to escort the workers after getting their final paychecks off the property.
There were no arrests at the request of Precision Pipeline as long as the combatants caused no further disruption, said police.
An official with Precision Pipeline previously stated there were some lay-offs and terminations just prior to the brawl.
But, Smith said there were no layoffs and the workers still on the job will continue working as the pipeline extension still being worked on from Griffith to Mendon, Mich., continues.
She expects that stretch of pipeline to be finished by the end of the first quarter of 2014 where it will tied into an already completed extension running to Sarnia, which is in Ontario east of Detroit.
"There has been no mass layoffs or anything like that," she said.
As the jobs reaches completion, naturally, the 600 to 800 workers on the job in Indiana will dwindle, but others will remain doing things like connecting all of the pipeline extensions along with land reclamation and restoration.
The land restoration will continue through 2014 "and beyond depending on the weather and other factors," said Smith.
A majority of the union workers on the job are from the local area, she said.