AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — Labor companies a General Electric Company An Alabama factory launched an effort to form a union Monday, joining a wave of recent organizing efforts at major national companies.
Workers at the GE Aviation plant in Auburn, Ala., which has 179 employees, filed union cards with the Birmingham office of the National Labor Relations Board as part of an organizing effort with the IUE-CWA. They said it was part of a national organizing effort at GE plants across the country and comes amid unionization efforts at other major companies such as Amazon and Starbucks.
An email and phone call to the public affairs office for GE were not immediately returned.
A spokeswoman for the National Labor Relations Board confirmed the regional office received the union’s petition on Monday. To qualify for a union election, the NLRB requires the signatures of 30% of eligible voters at a particular facility. IUE-CWA indicated that more than 50% of workers signed the cards, but did not give an exact number.
In an interview arranged by union supporters, two workers at the plant who support the effort told The Associated Press that pay, management’s treatment of workers and benefits are among the top concerns among workers.
“We need our voices to be heard,” Marcus Durrell, who has worked at the plant for seven years, said in a telephone interview. He said experienced workers at the plant earn less than workers at other GE facilities.
He said workers at the Auburn plant could see their pay reaching $24.18 an hour in six years.
“We want better pay, better benefits, just to have a seat at the table,” said Donna Rawlinson, 46. Rawlinson, who said she is on short-term disability while undergoing treatment for breast cancer, said morale at the plant has deteriorated over the years.
“They keep pushing. They want more, but they don’t give anything,” she said.
After decades of decline, there seems to be a resurgence of interest in unions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 10.3% of workers were in unions in 2021, down from 20.1% in 1983. Unionization campaigns have gained momentum recently, and workers have launched efforts at Amazon, Starbucks and other major companies. The Biden administration was also supportive effort to activate trade union campaigns at large employers.
“GE workers in Alabama are sending a strong message by coming together to unionize for better pay, benefits and the job security they’ve earned. Across the country at giant corporations like Amazon and Starbucks, CEOs are getting a wake-up call from workers to make their voices heard,” IUE-CWA Conference Board Chairman Jerry Carney said in a statement announcing the effort at the GE plant.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, copied or distributed without permission.