Workers inside the Kumho Tire Georgia Inc. plant in Macon, Ga., are entitled to a new union vote after an administrative law judge determined the company violated employees' rights during its first union election in October 2017.

That first vote resulted in a narrow loss for the workers (164 votes against a union, 136 in favor), who had sought to join the United Steelworkers (USW) union. The USW filed complaints with the National Labor Relations Board and accused Kumho of illegal conduct in an effor to suppress the union. Kumho began tire production in Macon, it's first U.S. tire factory, in March 2016.

According to a statement from the USW, Administrative Law Judge Arthur Amchan described the company's illegal conduct as "pervasive," and that it required two things — a new election, and the 'extraordinary' step that company officials read a notice to all of its employees outlining the specific ways in which they violated the workers' rights.

Among the threats, the judge said Kumho:

  • illegally interrogated employees,
  • threatened to fire union supporters,
  • threatened plant closure, and
  • created an impression of surveillance.

“This ruling is a major victory, not just for the brave Kumho Tire workers and not just for union members, but for all workers who want to improve their lives through organizing,” says Daniel Flippo, director of the USW’s District 9, which includes Georgia. “The USW is committed to fighting for all workers’ rights.”

The USW recently used the Kumho election as a case study during a meeting with members of the Congressional Blue Collar Caucus in advocating for passage of the PRO Act (H.R. 2474), a labor law reform bill that would increase protections for workers who engage in union organizing and other collective action in their workplaces. The legislation also would increase penalties on employers who violate workers’ rights.

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