Union Victorious At Mack Trucks Plant
WINNSBORO, S.C. (AP) _ A bitter 18-month effort by the United Auto Workers to organize the Mack Trucks Inc. assembly plant ended with 53 percent of the employees voting to accept union representation.
Mack Trucks said it would contest Thursday’s election, which the UAW won with 453 votes to 398 for the company. An employee group, which offered to represent workers, received two votes.
″It is totally on hold until it is settled,″ company spokeswoman Deb Woolley said. ″Mack is not finished fighting this battle. We are looking at the unlawful practices of the UAW and challenged ballots.″
The UAW urged Mack Trucks president and chief executive officer John B. Curcio to accept the election results.
″The present opportunity to change direction should not be ignored,″ the UAW said in a letter to Curcio. ″The alternative is further unnecessary damage to the UAW-Mack relationship.″
Observers predicted the outcome of the election could affect the way business is conducted in South Carolina, which historically has ranked among the least unionized states.
Gov. Carroll Campbell moved quickly to assure business owners and workers that ″right-to-work″ labor laws will not change in South Carolina.
″Those who desire to join a union are free to do so. Those who do not desire to join a union are equally free not to do so,″ Campbell said in a statement.
UAW organizer Robert Miller said employees who do not join the union will be treated the same as those who do.
″In a right-to-work state, we have a right to defend the people,″ he said. ″They have the right to join the union.″
″We worked hard and we prayed,″ Bill Casstevens, international secretary and treasurer of the UAW, told employees at a victory celebration Thursday night over the vote at the 1 1/2 -year-old plant. ″We’re bringing in democracy into this plant and South Carolina.″
David Mann, a 44-year-old union organizer who has worked for Mack Trucks for 17 years, said he was ″ecstatic, but not surprised″ at the election results.
And Leonard Drabick, a worker in the plant, said he does not foresee any problems with having the union.
″We’re still a team. We all stick together. We have one goal and that is to build trucks,″ Drabick said. ″I’m happy, I’m glad we got it.″
Chick Harrocks, a unit manager for Mack Trucks, said he was disappointed with the election results. ″The employees don’t realize what they got into,″ he said.
The UAW, which represents 1,800 Mack employees in Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, began its drive in 1987 to represent employees at the Winnsboro plant. The plant opened after Mack closed its main assembly plant in Allentown, Pa., in 1986.
Under an agreement between the company and the UAW, nearly 300 employees were transferred to the South Carolina plant. Those employees each have received $100 weekly from the union to defray moving expenses and lower wages.
Employees at the Winnsboro plant will earn $10 per hour by the end of the summer. Workers at the other three union-represented Mack facilities make about $14.50 an hour.