Macon, Georgia. — Workers at the Kumho Tire Georgia Inc. plant in Macon have rejected plans to unionise, but the result is being challenged by the United Steelworkers (USW).
The union has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) about the vote, held 12-13 Oct, which resulted in a 164-136 rejection of the unionisation proposals.
In an email, USW organizing director Maria Somma said the union had filed unfair labour practice charges in addition to objections to the election with the NLRB on 17 Oct.
"The employer broke the law and intimidated many workers with threats of job loss and plant closures," she said. "They spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on anti-union consultants who spent hours every day performing psychological warfare on the workers."
Also on 17 Oct, the USW said that Kumho terminated the employment of one of the USW's main advocates Mario Smith – an action Somma said was illegal.
"We will do whatever is necessary to protect the workers who are attempting to act on their legal right to form a union at their workplace," she said.
Kumho officials did not respond to requests for comment but did launch what it branded a union facts website — www.kumhounionfacts.com.
According to the website, the company denies paying supervisors and team leaders a bonus of $2,000 to fight the union and claims that Kumho Tire Georgia has lost $20 million so far in 2017.
The website has since been shut down.
"We appreciate the confidence that has been shown in us by our employees," the firm posted to its website in the aftermath of the vote.
"We will do everything possible to earn your trust. We are humbled by the vote and look forward to coming together as a team. We plan to get back together with everyone soon to address a number of important matters. Thank you."
Kumho opened the $450-million Macon plant — its first in North America — in May 2016, eight years after initially breaking ground. The project was suspended for roughly five years before construction resumed in 2014.
The plant has an annual capacity of 4 million passenger and light truck tires.