Decision to Unionize Kumho Plant Remains Split

Sept. 11, 2019

The latest vote of Kumho Tire Georgia Inc. workers at the company’s plant in Macon, Ga., is even closer than the first. The margin is four votes, and there are 13 outstanding ballots hanging in limbo.

The United Steelworkers (USW) says a vote the week of Sept. 7, 2019, shows plant employees want to join the union. The vote totals: 141 for unionization and 137 against. There are 13 “challenged ballots” that will be resolved at an upcoming hearing.

The USW says it would represent about 325 workers at the Kumho plant.

The September vote came almost two years after Kumho employees initially voted on whether they wanted union representation. This year, an administrative law judge ordered a new vote after determining Kumho violated employees’ rights during the first election in October 2017. That initial vote was 164 against a union and 136 in favor.

Administrative Law Judge Arthur Amchan described the company’s illegal conduct as “pervasive” and said it required two things — a new election, and the “extraordinary” step that Kumho officials read a notice to all of its employees outlining the specific ways they violated workers’ rights.

USW District 9 Director Daniel Flippo says, “Kumho spent thousands upon thousands of dollars and used every trick in the book to fight its own workers, including suspending a union activist who was eight months pregnant. Still, solidarity prevailed. We look forward to resolving these challenges as quickly as possible so that these workers can finally have the chance to sit down with the company and bargaining a fair contract.”

Kumho began tire production in Macon, its first U.S. factory, in March 2016.