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Union drive victorious at Kumho Tire USA

12 August, 2020After a long campaign, workers at Kumho Tire in the US have won the right to be represented by the United Steelworkers (USW).

Workers at Kumho Tire, in Macon, Georgia, voted to join IndustriALL Global Union affiliate the USW in September last year, but 13 ballots were contested. Yesterday, the National Labor Relations Board declared the union drive victorious.

Korean tyre multinational Kumho opened its Macon plant in 2016, with the first recognition vote held the next year. But the vote failed after a “vicious” and illegal union-busting campaign, which include threats against union members. A judge ruled that the company had violated workers’ rights during the 2017 election, and ordered a new election. He also ordered the company to read to workers a list of the labour laws it had violated.

While waiting for the final election results, conditions at Kumho got worse: when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, the company failed to distribute masks, supply sanitizer or take other common-sense steps.

Daniel Flippo, the USW director for District 9 – which includes seven southern states – said:

“Workers’ solidarity in the face of extreme intimidation shows just how urgently they need the workplace protections that only a union can provide. And their victory over an abusive, greedy company should inspire other workers who want to end the mistreatment they face from their own employers.”

IndustriALL and its affiliate, the Korean Metal Workers’ Union (KMWU), which represents over 3,500 Kumho Tire workers in South Korea, have supported the Macon workers in their battle for union representation.

IndustriALL director for the rubber industry, Tom Grinter, said:

“We are very happy to welcome Kumho Tire workers from Macon, Georgia, to our union family. You fought a brave fight against a vicious union-busting campaign, and you won.

“We will continue to work together to improve the working lives of our members in this sector across the world.”