Daehan employees say no to union

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 14, 2005

After the November 30 vote, employees at Daehan Solution plant in Tyson in Lowndes County voted against forming a union, 88-38.

Employees at the plant had brought complaints of allegations concerning unfair treatment from the company’s management, according to George Yarbrough, an organizer with the Teamsters union in Birmingham.

Sue Crochet of the National Labor Relations Board district office in New Orleans said that a petition with at least 30 percent of the workforce must be signed before the board would file paperwork to set up a union vote. The final vote was 38 for a union, 88 against it.

According to Yarbrough, Daehan management allegedly told the employees that if they formed a union, the plant would close.

“This is in direct violation of the National Labor Relations Act,” he said.

Repeated attempts to contact Daehan management for comment were unsuccessful.

According to an article in the Nov. 12 edition of The Montgomery Advertiser, an allegation claimed that Lowndes County Commission Chairman Charles King Jr. threatened employees by saying that the plant would be closed or relocated if they chose union representation.

“There were some employees who said they were treated unfairly,” King said. “According to management at Daehan, some employees were tardy to work, or they didn’t show up at all.”

King said that approximately five or six employees, who reside in Montgomery County, are the ones who filed the original complaints of unfair treatment.

When asked about the allegations that he acted as an agent of Daehan and threatened plant closure, King said that he could not dictate to the employees what they should or should not do.

“But, if someone asked my opinion while I was walking down the hall, then I gave it,” he said.

“I do care what happens to this plant because I burned plenty of midnight oil working to get it here,” he said. “I’ve been on both sides of the issue, from the employees’ standpoint, and from management’s standpoint. I agree that everybody needs to be treated fairly. Daehan needs to treat its employees fairly, and the employees need to do what is required of them. Basically, we want them to be like a family.”

On Monday, Nov. 28, Lowndes County commissioners Paul Sloane, Marzett Thomas and King went to the Daehan plant to discuss the union vote with the employees.

“We discussed this situation with several employees,” Sloane said. “We didn’t make any promises, but we felt like Daehan would serve them better to solve any problems they were having than a union would be.”

Sloane said that since he is a Republican and Thomas and King are Democrats, this mutual feeling went across party lines.

“General Motors is laying off 30,000 workers within the next two to three years, and the union can’t do anything about it,” Sloane said. According to Sloane, GMC said that escalating labor costs and escalating retirement benefits are two of the main reasons for the layoffs.

“The union negotiated itself and those employees out of a job,” he said.

According to Barbara Evans, vice president of Lowndes Citizens United for Action and a former union organizer, Daehan used intimidation tactics to convince workers that forming their own organization was not necessary.

“Commissioner King was a big part of the fear factor,” Evans said. “He was on the plant floor telling workers that the plant might close if they voted yes. Daehan employed a notorious union-busting law firm and consultants to stop the union movement, and, in the end, fear won out.”