Kumho Workers Overcome Campaign of Oppression to Win USW Vote

Contact: Joe Smydo, jsmydo@usw.org, 412-562-2281

(Pittsburgh) – Workers at Kumho Tire in Macon, Ga., won their battle to join the United Steelworkers (USW) despite the corporation’s relentless and illegal campaign to thwart their organizing rights.

The National Labor Relations Board today declared the union drive victorious after processing the final 13 ballots from an election last fall.

Workers sought USW representation to fight low wages, hazardous working conditions and abusive treatment at Kumho, which ruthlessly harassed and bullied union supporters in an attempt to derail the organizing campaign.

“These workers voted to unionize even though Kumho tried every underhanded, despicable stunt it possibly could to violate their rights and poison the election results,” noted USW District 9 Director Daniel Flippo, who leads thousands of Steelworkers in seven southern states and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

“Workers’ solidarity in the face of extreme intimidation shows just how urgently they need the workplace protections that only a union can provide. And their victory over an abusive, greedy company should inspire other workers who want to end the mistreatment they face from their own employers.”

In 2017, Kumho workers narrowly lost an initial election on the heels of Kumho’s vicious union-busting campaign, which included threats against USW supporters. Kumho’s conduct was so egregious that Administrative Law Judge Arthur J. Amchan not only ordered a new election but took the extraordinary step of ordering the company to read workers a list of its numerous labor law violations.

While awaiting the final results of last fall’s election, conditions at Kumho only got worse. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the company failed to implement commonsense safety measures. Now, workers face a coronavirus outbreak that puts their lives at risk. 

“Kumho must begin acting like a responsible employer,” Flippo said. “The USW calls on the company to come to the negotiating table in good faith and quickly bargain the fair contract its workers long ago earned.

“In forming a union and holding Kumho to account,” Flippo added, “these workers will help set stronger pay and workplace standards for the whole industry.”

The USW represents 850,000 men and women employed in metals, mining, pulp and paper, rubber, chemicals, glass, auto supply and the energy-producing industries, along with a growing number of workers in public sector and service occupations.

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