Kumho Tire workers at Macon, Georgia tire plant voted this week to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union nearly two years after the initial vote was marred by the company’s numerous violations of workers’ rights.
While some legal challenges remain before the election results are official, the initial vote count showed 141 votes for the union and 137 against, with 13 challenged ballots still to be resolved at an upcoming hearing. About 325 workers would be in the USW bargaining unit at Kumho.
“Kumho spent thousands upon thousands of dollars and used every trick in the book to fight its own workers, including suspending a union activist who was eight months pregnant. Still, solidarity prevailed,” said USW District 9 Director Daniel Flippo. “We look forward to resolving these challenges as quickly as possible so that these workers can finally have the chance to sit down with the company and bargain a fair contract.”
An administrative law judge issued an order in May for a new vote at the Kumho factory after finding that company officials violated workers’ rights during the first election in October 2017.
Following that initial vote, which resulted in a narrow defeat for the union, the USW filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) accusing the company of illegal conduct in its effort to suppress the union.
In his ruling, Administrative Law Judge Arthur J. Amchan wrote that the company’s illegal conduct was “pervasive” and that it warranted not only a new election, but the “extraordinary” remedy of requiring company officials to read a notice to employees outlining all of the violations.
“Too often companies try to bully and intimidate workers who simply want to exercise their right to bargain collectively,” said USW International President Thomas M. Conway. “That is simply a losing strategy. Rather than fighting their own workers, employers should work with them to build a better future for everyone.”
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.