GREEN RIVER — A majority of Ciner employees recently signed authorization cards stating they support union representation by the United Steel Workers.
The signatures mean that a petition has now been filed requesting the National Labor Relations Board to conduct a union election at the trona plant west of Green River.
The vote for production and maintenance employees will take place August 23-24 with multiple voting sessions over the 2-day period, according to USW publication The Sweetwater Times.
If the vote passes, it will be the first time in the plant’s history that a union has been formed.
Employees Sought Advice
USW District 11 Staff Representative Monte Morlock said he was contacted by several Ciner employees on the steelworkers’ website about the necessary steps in forming a union.
“We just started meeting with them and explaining how the process works,” Morlock said. “They’re tired of all the things the company is doing to them, and taking away, and false promises I guess you would say.”
By law it only takes 30% of a company’s workforce to opt for the National Labor Relations Board to come in and run an election, said Bob Gooch, Health Care Workers Council Organizer for USW.
“From experience we know the employer’s campaign is going to sway some people who initially signed a card saying they want a union.” Gooch said. “So if we got strong support on the front end we stand a much better chance of the employees being able to win the vote.”
Gooch added USW got more than enough signatures to warrant an election.
Insurance Benefits and Unfair Labor Charges
If the union vote passes, Ciner will then be bound by federal law to address all working conditions, wages and benefits through a negotiation process.
The company must also honor any negotiations made prior to the vote, according to Gooch.
“Earlier this week (the company) came out with a much better (insurance) plan than what they had, and they went so far as to say that if the union wins, you won’t get this plan,” he said. “But if the union loses, this plan will take effect January 1.”
As a result of that measure, USW has filed unfair labor practice charges against Ciner accusing the company of threatening to withhold benefits if employees vote for the union.
“And that’s illegal,” said Gooch.
Employees are federally protected from any repercussions by a company while trying to form a union, Morlock added.
Attempts to contact a Ciner spokesperson for comments were not returned at the time of this post.
For the next several weeks leading up to the vote Gooch and Morlock will talk to employees about the benefits of forming a union.
While they won’t be allowed on the Ciner site to conduct union business, they plan to meet with individuals and hold several meetings prior to the vote.
“Probably the biggest thing right now is to keep the truth out there,” Morlock said. “There’s so much misinformation and false accusations. They’re trying to scare the employees into voting no.”
Ciner employees wlll cast their votes at the Surface Rescue Room at Change House 2 on the company site.