Judge Orders New Union Vote at Kumho Tire Plant in Georgia

CONTACT: R.J. Hufnagel, (412) 562-2450, rhufnagel@usw.org

An administrative law judge ordered a new union vote at a Kumho Tire factory in Macon, Ga., after finding that company officials violated workers’ rights during  the first election in October 2017.

The first vote resulted in a narrow loss for the workers, who were seeking to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union. Following that vote, the USW filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board 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 all of its employees outlining the specific ways in which they violated the workers’ rights.

Kumho’s violations, Amchan said, included illegally interrogating employees, threatening to fire union supporters, threatening plant closure, and creating an impression of surveillance, among other threats to workers.

“This ruling is a major victory, not just for the brave Kumho Tire workers and not just for union members, but for all workers who want to improve their lives through organizing,” said Daniel Flippo, director of the USW’s District 9, which includes Georgia and six other southern states, as well as the U.S. Virgin Islands. “The USW is committed to fighting for all workers’ rights.”

The USW recently used the Kumho election as a case study during a meeting with members of the Congressional Blue Collar Caucus in advocating for passage of the PRO Act (H.R. 2474), a labor law reform bill that would increase protections for workers who engage in union organizing and other collective action in their workplaces, and also would increase penalties on employers who violate workers’ rights.

The USW has been working with the AFL-CIO and other unions to build support for the bill.

“Workers are routinely threatened with plant closure, job displacement, or economic harm,” USW International President Leo W. Gerard wrote in a letter in support of the legislation. “Now is the time for Congress to act and provide millions of America’s workers the tools they need to secure a better future for themselves and their families.”

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. 

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