Anti-union employees of Davol Inc. said they were celebrating their lop-sided victory in a plantwide vote that rejected representation by the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union.
"There is excitement in the plant," said Wanda Jessepe, a manufacturing trainer who helped tabulate ballots into the wee hours this morning.
Jessepe said 211 workers voted against the union, while 74 voted for it. Approximately 325 of the local plant's 350 workers were eligible to vote. Voting was held during the day Thursday and resumed at midnight to accommodate third-shift workers.
Ed Lee, a warehouse worker who helped organize a series of anti-union meetings, said many first-shift employees who opposed the union reported to work today wearing pro-company T-shirts and were cheering on the production lines at the plant at 700 E. 22nd.
"It's like a big relief that this is over," Lee said.
Dan Scheck, manager of the plant which manufactures medical and surgical supplies, was unavailable for comment this morning. Scheck and other members of the company's management reportedly had remained at the plant until ballots were counted after the polls closed at 2 a.m.
MEGAN PARKE, an organizer for the ACTWU, has said the National Labor Relations Board scheduled the election in January after more than 200 workers signed cards favoring the vote. The signature cards are used only to schedule an election and are not regarded as indications of worker sentiment.
Parke could not be reached for comment today.
Pro-union workers had said in the weeks preceding the vote that they hoped a union-negotiated contract would increase wages and benefits and improve working conditions at the plant. Production line workers are paid a starting wage of $4.50 an hour and under the current pay scale can earn a maximum of $5.50.
However, many anti-union workers had said the company offered a generous benefit package that included health insurance, retirement plans and stock options. They said they feared any increase in wages demanded by a union would come at the expense of benefits.
ANTHONY Freeman, a Davol worker who supported the union, said this morning that he was surprised by the election's outcome.
"It was kind of a shock because there were quite a few people who let out that they were for it," Freeman said. He speculated that some workers are anticipating that the company has been frightened by the union effort and will increase wages.
"I know that's what the majority of the people are looking for," he said.
Lee said he thought that a series of companywide meetings at which the company presented its case to employees had helped sway workers from voting pro-union.
"The company here was honest with workers during the meetings," Lee said. "They asked for a second chance. They didn't want a union in here and they meant it."
A COMPANY'S management is prohibited by law from making specific promises to employees once a union election has been scheduled and Lee said he could only speculate as to what Davol might do.
"I would say there's going to be some changes," Lee said. "Dan asked for a second chance and this is his second chance," he said of Scheck, the plant manager.
Lee also said high-pressure tactics by union organizers and their supporters created tension within the plant and may have hurt the union's cause.
Donald Holle, a pro-union worker, said he would continue to work at the plant if wages and conditions improved. He predicted that if Davol didn't placate workers, another union election would be held next year.