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CertainTeed Workers Say “Yes” to a Union Voice with the Chemical Workers

Eighty workers at the CertainTeed drywall plant in West Virginia, voted to have a union voice and joined UFCW Local 45C. Pictured left to right: Ron Moore, Andrew Gaiser, Josh Mazey, Carl  Sweeney, Lance Heasley.

Eighty workers at the CertainTeed drywall plant in West Virginia, voted to have a union voice and joined UFCW Local 45C. Pictured left to right: Ron Moore, Andrew Gaiser, Josh Mazey, Carl
Sweeney, Lance Heasley.

Eighty workers at the CertainTeed drywall plant in Proctor, West Virginia, voted “Union Yes” on June 6 to join the International Chemical Workers Union Council.

Lance Heasley is a former steward and member-activist with UFCW Local 45C and works as an instrument technician at Axiall, where he and his fellow union members make chlorine and other caustic chemicals. Many of them, including Lance, live side-by-side with workers at the CertainTeed and know each other socially. So, when Lance heard his friends and neighbors talk about how hard it could be working at CertainTeed, he started talking to them about the difference a union could make.

He began to go out of his way to have conversations with CertainTeed workers and slowly built a committee of interested workers. He reached out to the ICWUC organizing department and worked with them to sign up CertainTeed workers on authorization cards. Workers began texting and calling each other and holding meetings to talk about the need for a union at CertainTeed. One of those workers was Carl Sweeney.

One of the major issues for Carl was being able to speak up and speak out without fear of retaliation. “I wanted to go to work every day and not worry about what I said or if I’d be the next one out because someone didn’t like me,” said Carl. “I wanted to speak up when I saw something unsafe and know the problem would be fixed, not seeing me as the problem for bringing it up.”

As soon as the CertainTeed workers filed with the National Labor Relations Board for an election, the company brought in an anti-union law firm and began holding mandatory anti-union meetings and one-on-one sessions to persuade workers to back down. But they stood strong and stayed united, despite company attempts at intimidation.

“I knew I could lose my job, but I also knew something had to change,” said Carl. “We had to stick together, stay united, to make CertainTeed a better place to work.”

That work paid off and Carl and his coworkers are looking forward to addressing their concerns at the bargaining table – including rapidly rising healthcare costs, favoritism, and safety concerns in the workplace.

UFCW Local 1208 Members Take Action N.C. Moral Monday

UFCW Local 1208 members joined other labor groups and community allies to participate in Moral Monday in support of protecting workers and speaking out for workers’ rights.

UFCW Local 1208 members joined other labor groups and community allies to participate in Moral Monday in support of protecting workers and speaking out for workers’ rights.

Following a court victory reaffirming the right of people to protest in the General Assembly, members of UFCW Local 1208 joined labor groups and protesters at the last Moral Monday of the North Carolina General Assembly Legislative Session.

Mass Moral Mondays is a North Carolina NAACP coalition-led movement fighting regressive legislation in the GOP controlled Assembly. Yesterday’s rally focused on protecting workers, the poor, women, and people of color who speak out for worker’s rights. UFCW Local 1208 President Keith Ludlum, along with nearly 20 other protesters, were arrested on behalf of union members.

“This company has just settled a discrimination lawsuit with the EEOC and has been cited by OSHA for countless serious safety violations. Now they are violating our rights under federal law to form, join or assist my union,” said Jasmine Isom, a Mountaire Farms poultry plant worker working with UFCW Local 1208, addressing the crowd. “My name is Jasmine Isom, my daughter and I need your help. Please stand with the Mountaire workers! Forward together, not one step back.”

North Carolina units of the UFCW, AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFGE, IAM, and NEA are part of the labor movement in North Carolina addressing harmful legislation and political chicanery while fighting for workers’ rights on the shop floor. The alignment of labor, clergy, and other key constituency groups in North Carolina has helped bolster protests against the General Assembly and strengthen progressive actions across the state.

Neighboring states, Mississippi’s Ethical Thursdays and Moral Monday Georgia, are also following suit and attempting to bring together broad-based coalitions on singular state issues.

NLRB Finds Merit to UFCW Local 1500 ULP Filed Against Mrs. Green’s

A NLRB Regional Director found merit to the ULP filed by UFCW Local 1500 that eight Mrs. Green’s Natural Market workers were illegally fired for trying to have a union voice on the job.

A NLRB Regional Director found merit to the ULP filed by UFCW Local 1500 that eight Mrs. Green’s Natural Market workers were illegally fired for trying to have a union voice on the job.

After an internal investigation by a Regional Director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the Director found merit to UFCW Local 1500’s unfair labor practice charges alleging that Mrs. Green’s Natural Market unlawfully terminated eight employees because they supported having a union voice on the job.

The Regional Director also revoked a previous settlement of unfair labor practices (November 2013) between UFCW Local 1500, the NLRB, and Mrs. Green’s. In that settlement, Mrs. Green’s agreed to cease their anti-union conduct, promising to create a safe, intimidation-free work environment for the workers. The company also agreed to post a notice in their store for 60 days that informed all employees of their basic rights at work, including the right to form and organize a union.

In a complete disrespect for the settlement with the government and workers’ rights, during a one week span in January, Mrs. Green’s abruptly fired eight leading union supporters, some of whom had met with local politicians about their campaign. The company then removed the required notice from the walls of their store prior to the end of the 60-day period.

A Federal Labor Complaint was then issued against Mrs. Green’s, alleging that Mrs. Green’s violated the law when it terminated union supporters. The trial will be heard before an Administrative Law Judge of the NLRB in July.

“We’re confident that we will receive justice,” said David Ramirez who worked at Mrs. Green’s in Mt. Kisco, New York, for nearly ten years until he was fired this January, “We could not have gotten this far and received this decision without the support from UFCW Local 1500 members and the Mt. Kisco community, who have walked the picket line with us during a cold winter. That meant a lot to all of us and gave us support and energy to continue to hold strong and fight for our rights,” said Ramirez.

UFCW Local 1500 is urging the company to reinstate all unlawfully fired workers. Since January, the fired workers have received an outpouring of support from community and politicians who have called for a boycott of the store. The picket line remains up at 666 Lexington Ave. Mt. Kisco, NY. Last week, days after the federal complaint was issued and after 18 months on the job, Mrs. Green’s parent company, Natural Market Food Group CEO Robin Michel was ousted.

Updates on the workers and the case can be found at ufcw1500.org/greenismean.