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Workers at Thomas Built Bus (TBB) in High Point, N.C., had waited for more than a year to become UAW members. But on June 29, 2005, that wait ended when they voted in favor of union representation.
A majority of workers at TBB had already indicated a preference to join the union during a card-check election in March 2004. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union group that supports employers’ efforts to prevent workers from exercising their civil rights, filed objections to the election process. All charges were settled in March 2005, with an agreement to proceed with an NLRB-supervised election.
“This is a great victory for our members, for our plant and for our community,” said Niels Chapman, president of UAW Local 5287 (pictured above, left). “We’ve been working hard for a long time to form our own union, so today’s vote is really important for all of us. Now we’re ready to negotiate a contract that will improve our plants and improve our jobs.”
“TBB workers have a lot to be proud of,” said Gary Casteel, director of UAW Region 8, which includes North Carolina and other southeastern states. “They stuck together despite unjustified attacks against the democratic process by the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation and others who oppose the exercise of civil rights in the workplace.”
During the past two years, thousands of workers in North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee have become part of the UAW as a result of a neutrality agreement with Freightliner, the parent corporation of TBB. Freightliner is a subsidiary of DaimlerChrysler.
Since organizing in 2003, workers at Freightliner manufacturing plants in Gastonia and Cleveland have negotiated first contract agreements, which improve wages and benefits. The company has hired more than 2,500 workers in Freightliner and Gastonia since workers organized in 2003.
“The successful vote in High Point shows what happens when workers have a free choice about union representation,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. “It’s unfortunate that their effort to form their own union was delayed for more than a year by legal challenges. We’re going to continue to work with employers to create partnerships that respect workers’ rights, and we expect the National Labor Relations Board to follow the law by assisting these efforts to promote labor-management cooperation.”
If you are interested in organizing your workplace with the UAW, contact our Organizing Department or call 1-800 2GET-UAW (1-800-243-8829). You'll be connected to (or get a call back from) a UAW organizer who can answer questions and tell you what it takes to organize a union at your workplace.
If you're in Canada, call 1-800-387-0538 to reach UAW Local 251, a Canadian UAW local union that helps Canadian workers organize.