Workers at a General Electric (GE) plant in Auburn are the latest Alabama business to seek unionization.
The 179-employee GE Aviation plant in Auburn submitted union cards to the Birmingham office of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in an effort to unionize the plant.
The Industrial Division of the Communication Workers of America (IUE-CWA) is pushing the organizational effort.
A spokeswoman for the NLRB confirmed the regional office received the union petition Monday. To qualify for a union election, the NLRB requires signatures from 30% of eligible voters at a specific facility. The IUE-CWA indicated that more than 50% of workers signed cards but did not provide an exact number.
"GE workers in Alabama are sending a powerful message by coming together to form a union for the better pay, benefits, and job security they have earned. Across the country, at giant corporations like Amazon and Starbucks, CEOs are getting a wake-up call from workers making their voices heard," IUE-CWA Conference Board Chairman Jerry Carney said in a statement announcing the effort at the GE plant.
The company issued a statement in response to the filing.
"GE employs more than 55,000 Americans, pays competitive wages in every community in which we operate, and has invested more than a billion dollars in our U.S. facilities since 2016, including in Auburn. We are committed to a direct relationship with our employees based on teamwork, cooperation, and actively pursuing mutually beneficial goals."
This is one of a series of employees of major companies seeking unionization in the state, following efforts from an Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer and multiple Starbucks locations.
In April of 2021, Amazon workers voted on whether to join The Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU). Of the 5,800 workers, fewer than half of them submitted ballots. The vote concluded with the majority deciding not to unionize by a margin of 1,798 to 738.
Immediately following the vote results, RWDSU filed an objection, stating that Amazon had violated labor laws by not providing the correct parameters for a fair election. Among various complaints, the union claimed Amazon pressured the postal service into installing a ballot box in the warehouse and erecting a tent around the box. The union also claimed that Amazon had created multiple impressions that individual employee votes would be known by Amazon management. Amazon had also previously polled employees, which the union asserted would make employees feel pressured into voting no.
Last year, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) voted in favor of the union's challenge. The NLRB released its decision saying that it agreed with the union's objections and that Amazon had conducted the vote inappropriately.
The NLRB claimed that the original election was set aside because they found that Amazon had "interfered with the employee's exercise of a free and reasoned choice" by creating the appearance of irregularity in the election procedure.
The second vote ended in March with the same result.
In May, a Birmingham Starbucks location voted overwhelmingly to unionize after receiving support from Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and the Birmingham chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.
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