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Steelworkers at the Cognis specialty chemical plant in Winton Place, on strike for more than 14 months, are taking their fight to win back their jobs to Washington today.

About a dozen of the 270-member Steelworkers Local 14340 are in the nation's capital not to lobby their congressional leaders but to appeal to the ambassador of Malaysia.

The reason is that since last year, most of the Cognis plant has been owned by a joint venture that includes Golden Hope Plantations, a Malaysian company the union says is controlled by the Malaysian government. Malaysia's prime minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, chairs the parent corporation holding of Golden Hope, the union says.

"We're trying to reach out to them, to have a fair resolution of this dispute,'' said Adam Lee, a strategic campaigns researcher for the international steelworkers union, during a telephone conference Monday to outline the union's plans. The group plans to picket outside the Malaysian embassy from about 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

So far the union has appealed to Cognis' German-based parent and the chairman of Golden Hope Plantations. It also has gotten the support of Cincinnati Catholic Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk and the Cincinnati Council on American-Islamic Relations, which appealed to Muslim officials in Malaysia without success.


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