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Racism on the Pipeline

December 13, 2009

A former worker on the TransCanada Keystone pipeline has accused construction and engineering company Henkels & McCoy of workplace discrimination. Charles Adams, an African-American former employee of the company is charging that he suffered racist taunting and had a noose thrown around his neck while at the company’s pipeline worksite in 2008.

A quote from Henkels’ founder “Jack” Henkels in a company history states,

Sometimes I would like to call ours a Christian business. It never was. I am a Catholic, which none of my partners were. Three of the real architects of the business were Jews… If we were never wholly a Christian business, we certainly were not all the same color. African and Caucasian have worked side by side in Henkels & McCoy since the beginning. We were never interested in the pigmentation of a man’s skin. If he could do the job, he was on; if he couldn’t, we didn’t want him — no matter what his color.”

In 2000, the state of Illinois sued Henkels and other companies for pollution related to operations there that “caused air pollution, caused open dumping, improperly disposed of waste,” endangering the health of local residents.

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