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Union ties dissolved at foundry

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By Nathan L. McBroom

Almost a year after union workers from Ohio Valley Aluminum went on strike, a majority of the workers at the plant have voted to give the union the boot.

On May 23, 52 out of 87 employees voted to decertify the United Steelworkers Workers from having representation and bargain rights for the workers there.

While the union currently has the right to appeal the decision, a representative from the USW said the union is not going to challenge the vote.

The vote brings to an end a nearly two-year struggle between the company and the union for a contract.

In August 2006, workers voted in the union with more than a 60 percent majority. However, a three-month-long strike and 21 months of contract negotiations seem to have caused some workers to switch sides.

Leading up to last Friday's vote, union representatives were confident that the majority of the workers were "on their side." But last Friday only 35 employees voted to maintain their relationship with the union.

The workers will now have to deal with the company individually.

In a deal stuck in late April, the USW agreed to hold a vote among the workers at the foundry to determine if they wanted the union to continue to have their representation and bargaining rights. If the union won the vote by a simple majority, the union would stay and the workers would then have the opportunity to vote on the contract agreed upon by the union and the company.

However, if the union failed to get a majority, they would be decertified and no longer recognized by the company or by the National Labor Relations Board.

Chris Horn, an employee, said the company will treat the workers fairly without union representation. Horn filed a decertification petition with the NLRB last August. He said speaking out against the union came at a price.

"They put bullet casings on my doorway and slashed my tires," he said.

But Horn said despite the harassment, he is glad the union is gone.