MACON, Ga. — Federal labor regulators have sided with union officials who alleged unfair labor practices against Kumho Tire USA Inc. during a 2017 union election at the company's Georgia tire manufacturing plant.
The ruling by the National Labor Relations Board has just upheld findings previously made by an administrative law judge that Kumho made several unlawful moves in an attempt to blunt the entry of the United Steelworkers into the Macon facility a few years ago.
Union organizers lost that 2017 campaign, but a new vote earlier this year saw employees narrowly approve representation.
The USW and Kumho have been in a years-long tussle regarding whether a little more than 300 employees of the plant should be unionized.
An Oct. 8, a 21-page ruling by the NLRB indicates company officials repeatedly made statements to employees that were unlawful while trying to convince employees not to join the union.
In one such instance, the NLRB said company President Hyunho Kim improperly made statements that "drew a straight line from the employees' selection of the union as their collective-bargaining representative to the company's demise.
"Kim clearly implied that the company would go out of business as a consequence of unionization. Kim, however, failed to cite any objective facts that would tend to show that the respondent would have to go out of business for reasons beyond its control if employees selected the Union," the ruling states.
The NLRB also ruled that company Chief People Officer Jerome Miller made certain statements "during a mandatory employee meeting held a day before the election constituted unlawful threats of a loss of benefits, transfer of work, and plant closure."
The company was ordered to stop "threatening employees with plant shutdown, job loss, loss of benefits, transfer of work to other locations and stricter rule enforcement if they select union representation."
Kumho also was ordered by the NLRB to top "threatening employees with reprisals, specified and unspecified, for their support of the union," and "suggesting that it will respond to employee grievances and complaints if employees reject union representation."
The company was ordered to stop "interrogating employees regarding their union sympathies," "suggesting union representation would be futile," and "threatening changed work conditions, such as less help from supervisors."
Kumho also was told to stop "giving the impression that it has placed employees' union activities under surveillance," "stop telling employees not to speak to other employees in support of the union," and "interfering with, restraining, or coercing employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed them."
The company also is required to post copies of a notice in the plant indicating the NLRB found Kumho violated federal labor law.
The notice must be posted for 60 consecutive days "in conspicuous places including all places where notices to employees are customarily posted." The company also is required to distribute the notice electronically.
USW leaders, out of the union's base in Pittsburgh, said the company must call a plant-wide meeting to read a detailed statement, prepared by the NLRB, acknowledging the company's conduct.
NLRB upheld an original ruling made in May 2019 by Administrative Law Judge Arthur J. Amchan.
A representative for Kumho Tire Georgia could not be reached immed iatelyfor comment.