Health and safety violations are among the reasons the United Steelworkers union (USW) is outraged that North American Salt has won the the 2012 Supplier of the Year given by the True Value Company.

International President Leo W. Gerard has requested that True Value rescind the award and urge North American Salt to comply with the code of conduct embraced by its corporate parent, Compass Minerals.

Honoring North American Salt is rubbing “salt in the wounds” of the company’s employees, Gerard asserted.

The USW and North American Salt are currently embroiled in contentious negotiations over a fair labor agreement at the company’s Cote Blanche, La., underground salt mine.

Safety conditions at the mine prompted Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) inspectors to shut it down temporarily during the first part of August. They issued at least 21 citations to North American Salt for its health and safety conditions at the mine.

From January 2009 through August 8, 2012 MSHA cited North American Salt with more than 400 health and safety violations at the Cote Blanche mine, with 126 of these violations determined to be “significant and substantial.”