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USW Challenges North American Salt To Rehire Decorated Veteran It Fired For Going To Mandatory Veterans Administration Appointments

Louisiana State Representative Vows to Take Legislative Action

BATON ROUGE, La., April 19, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Members of the United Steelworkers (USW) and other union and community groups gathered on the steps of the Louisiana State Capitol yesterday afternoon to challenge North American Salt to reinstate a decorated Iraq war veteran fired for attending mandatory Veterans Administration (VA) appointments.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20080131/DC12982LOGO)

Veteran Derrick Forestier told North American Salt at the time of his hiring at the company's Cote Blanche, La., underground salt mine that he would need time off to attend VA appointments so he could access his earned benefits. The manager who hired him approved the visits, but several months later he was fired after returning from a VA appointment he had notified management about in advance. The United Steelworkers (USW), which represents the workers at the mine, is determined to get Forestier reinstated with full backpay.

"What happened to Derrick is a travesty and an insult to all veterans everywhere," said Jim Lefton, assistant to the director for USW District 13. "He received many awards for his service in the military, including a Bronze Star. North American Salt has no excuse for terminating his employment."

Louisiana State Representative Kenneth Cox vowed to submit a bill in the Louisiana State Legislature making it illegal for employers to terminate a returning veteran for keeping medical appointments associated with the person's discharge from military service. He called the actions taken by North American Salt "deplorable."

"We as a country did not do right by our Vietnam Vets, and I vow it will not happen again," State Rep. Cox said at the rally. He served 25 years in the U.S. Army and retired a colonel.

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