FINDLAY, Ohio—A group of production workers at Hercules Tire and Rubber Co.'s Findlay, Ohio, tread rubber plant has voted to join the United Steelworkers of America. The workers voted 46-21 on Sept. 9 to authorize the USWA to represent them in contract negotiations with Hercules.
Pat Gallagher, organizing coordinator for USWA District 1, said the vote was certified in late September by the federal National Labor Relations Board.
Craig Anderson, Hercules president and COO, said this was the first union election ever held at Hercules. There had been previous attempts to organize, he said, and this vote is ``an employee decision.''
The fact that the employees of Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. across town perform many of the same jobs as Hercules employees and are represented by the USWA may have contributed to the results of the vote, according to Mr. Anderson. ``It's a small town,'' he said.
The USWA will represent 69 workers—nearly one-third of the 220 Hercules employees in Findlay. Hercules has a total employment of about 550.
The workers involved produce custom-mix rubber products and tread rubber for retread plants that use Hercules' precure and mold cure retreading processes.
``The issues were not economic,'' Mr. Anderson said. He attributed the results to concerns about retirement, medical insurance and working conditions.
``They (Hercules employees) organized just to have a voice, to have a say-so in what goes on in the plant,'' said Frank Cline, president of USWA Local 207 at Cooper Tire. At meetings with Hercules workers during the organizing campaign, Mr. Cline said Hercules workers also expressed concerns about long-term economic benefits such as retirement.
Mr. Cline, a Cooper employee for 21 years, said he and his local members are ``tickled to death'' with the results of the election and Hercules management shouldn't be concerned about having to deal with a union.
``Cooper Tire has been organized since 1942,'' Mr. Cline said. ``And if it was detrimental to this company, why are we ranked No. 7 in the world?'' (Tire Business ranks Cooper as the world's eighth-largest tire manufacturer.)
Hercules—which also markets tires and retread equipment—has sales of about $300 million.
Mr. Anderson said the company and the union haven't held any meetings yet to work on specifics of a contract.
Production in the Hercules plant is going well, Mr. Anderson said, and the company continues to ``get the rubber out'' to its customers. ``We're not in an adversarial relationship.''
Mr. Gallagher said the workers have selected an organizing committee, and the union has requested information from the company. He said meetings with the company ``should be starting shortly.''
Leonard Grbinick, an organizing staff member with District 1 USWA, said there is no specific time limit for a contract to be drawn up.
However, he said the NLRB monitors post-election activity to make sure that both the union and the company meet and decide on a contract ``in a reasonable amount of time.''