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USA: IndustriALL backs workers at Ciner Wyoming ahead of union vote

21 August, 2018IndustriALL Global Union is backing workers at Ciner in Wyoming, USA, where company management has intensified its pressure on employees to vote against union representation in an election taking place this week.

Employees at Ciner Wyoming’s mine and soda ash refinery in Green River recently signed authorization cards saying they support union representation by IndustriALL affiliate, the United Steelworkers (USW). This lead to an order by the National Labor Relations Board for union elections, which will be held on 23 and 24 August.

Local management of the Turkey-based conglomerate, Ciner, has been waging an anti-union campaign to stop workers from voting yes to unionization. Employees are required to attend mandatory meetings where management claims unions are bad for business and that workers will lose out if they vote to join the Steelworkers.

The worst of these claims is over medical insurance. The US management of the company recently presented a new insurance plan that is considerably better than the one currently in place. During meetings, management stated if workers vote in favour a union, they will be stuck with their old insurance plan throughout negotiations. The United Steelworkers have filed federal charges against these law-breaking moves by Ciner,  but the Labor Board will not rule on these charges before this week’s vote.

US management has also wrongly branded the messages of solidarity support from IndustriALL affiliates that represent Ciner workers in Turkey, as fake.

Turkish affiliates Maden-Is (mineworkers) and Tes-Is (energy, gas and water workers), which represent Ciner workers in Turkey under multiple collective bargaining agreements, have strong historical links with USW and are supporting the workers in Green River. Paradoxically, Ciner has constructive labour relations with unions in its home country and respects trade union rights.

If the union vote passes, Ciner will be bound by federal law to address all working conditions, wages and benefits through a negotiation process.

In a statement of solidarity to Ciner Wyoming workers, IndustriALL’s assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan, who is a former Turkish labour leader, said:

“IndustriALL Global Union stands in solidarity with workers at Ciner Wyoming. We urge you to stay strong and vote YES to a union. By sticking together, you are in the best position to bargain for your rights. Ciner’s dirty tricks to coerce workers into voting no are nothing short of blackmail. It’s a fact that unionized workers get paid more, have better benefits and greater security. Ciner has constructive relations with our trade union affiliates in Turkey, and it can be the same at Green River. In joining United Steelworkers, you will have the protection of a great union, as well as the support of Ciner workers in Turkey and millions of workers worldwide in the IndustriALL family.”