Jun 21, 2012
Workers at the General Electric switchgear plant in Burlington, Iowa, did everything they could to save their company, even taking pay cuts of 30-50 percent to keep the plant running.
They also knew it was time for a union voice, and built an amazing campaign over nine months to fight for IUE-CWA representation.
Management threw everything it could at them, but it didn't stop the campaign. Workers continued to wear their red "CWA Organize" T-shirts and stand up to management's tactics.
Mark Jondal, a GE worker, said several people had to attend captive audience meetings and some were forced to go to one-on-ones with management. "Managers would single out and intimidate workers they knew had been to organizing meetings," he said.
The votes were finally counted after a two month delay, and workers narrowly lost the election by an 81-86 vote. "Given the threats to close the plant and the fear of losing their jobs in a tough economy, we're not surprised that some workers were scared into voting No. But we're not done fighting for them and for us," Jondal said.
By making false claims at an NLRB representation hearing, management convinced the board to add supervisors to the bargaining unit; that threw the election to management.
Following the vote count, organizing committee members started planning for next steps: filing objections to the election based on the plant-closing threats and the vicious attacks on union supporters, organizing a "Picnic and Planning meeting" to start the ball rolling on the next campaign, and producing a newsletter to keep people informed every step of the way.