May 16, 2011 10:20:00 AM
Saturday marks the one-year anniversary of the Omnova strike in Columbus, and the longest strike in the company''s history does not bode to end favorably for its longtime union workers.
Last week, A a group of replacement workers at Omnova Solutions Inc. Thursday filed a request with the National Labor Relations Board to take a decertification vote.
By secret ballot, the more than 100 workers, formerly identified as "temporary," could vote to make the local plant non-union, officially detaching it from the 168 workers who''ve been on strike since May 21, 2010. The union''s contract expired on May 15, 2010.
And Omnova is moving forward, despite the lingering union members still manning the gates 24 hours a day.
"All strikers were permanently replaced months ago," said Sandi Noah, spokeswoman for Omnova.
The petition for decertification could take four to six weeks to be granted and go to a vote, if approved by the NLRB.
At least 30 percent of employees at the local plant must have signed the petition, and about one-third of petitions are withdrawn or dismissed, according to the NLRB website.
Ballots can be taken at the workplace or by mail, and when they are counted, company officials, union membership and replacement workers can be present. A majority vote decides whether the union will be decertified.
Despite recent developments, union members remain steadfast, said to Jay Lawrence, president of the union, Local 748-L.
"Our membership is still of a sound mind, that we''re on strike," Lawrence said.
It''s a sad turn of events, he added, for workers who dedicated their lives to Omnova.
"We feel like many of these problems could have been worked out," he said.
The contract presented stripped away seniority rights, including shift and vacation preference, slashed benefits and eliminated an incentives-based program in place for decades.
"It''s just the way we (were) attacked by the company. Our seniority rights, shift rights, pensions, benefits," Lawrence said. "This contract negotiation was just unacceptable to the membership."
For union members, it was never a true negotiation.
"The company would not negotiate. They keep saying, the final offer, the final offer, but we voted down the final offer. Now, they''re seeking decertification," Lawrence said.
The union asked, about a month ago and to no avail, to return to the negotiation table.
"The whole thing is sad in itself," Lawrence said.
Meanwhile, Omnova remains focused on meeting the needs of its customers, "with an engaged, local Columbus workforce," Noah said.
jimmy williams commented at 5/16/2011 3:14:00 PM:
How is this good for the temps, Later they will need help trying to keep their pay.
disappointed in support commented at 5/16/2011 6:05:00 PM:
This paper is a disgrace to the area. When is the anniversary? Sat. May 14, May !5 or is it the finally day of work, May 21? Get it straight Dispatch? What is the area going to do when this company is closed? Columbus you will be sorry for not tring to help this to be resolved. If these men do not get their jobs back, this plant in Columbus will close! Mayor Smith has sons crossing the picket line daily! Who else is getting a kick back????
scab1 commented at 5/16/2011 9:45:00 PM:
Na na na na. Na na na na. Hey hey hey. Goodbye!
scab2 commented at 5/16/2011 10:32:00 PM:
"If these men don't get their jobs back the columbus plant will close!" Seriously! If you haven't notice the plant is running daily and has been for a while and they are running productively! Who would have thought they could learn so quickly! Its unrealistic I know! They may need some icepacks across the street to put on theirs necks from watching the cars go by and staring so hard!
disappointed in support commented at 5/17/2011 8:58:00 AM:
SCAB2 got yourself pegged right. Once a SCAB always a SCAB. Tells everyone that knows you just what you are!!! PRODUCTION yea right! The supervisiors are running the machines and you stand with your t----- up your A--. Watch and see buddy!!!!!!!!! You will regret.
garthia commented at 5/17/2011 10:14:00 AM:
Disappointed in support, as the story says, the anniversary of the strike is Saturday (May 21), though the contract officially expired on May 15, 2010. I apologize for any ambiguity.
scab2 commented at 5/17/2011 3:37:00 PM:
It seems the plant is running with supervisors running the machines so some say! That comment is about as dead as the grass next to the gates from people walking on it!
disappointed in support commented at 5/17/2011 6:34:00 PM:
The PRODUCTION coming out of the plant is also coming in the front gate, having the MADE IN THE USA attached and shipped back out. Is this legal??? It never has a made in china stamp go back out the front gate or it is your a-- on the line.
scab3 commented at 5/18/2011 10:18:00 AM:
Oh it feels good to be back amongst my fellow scabs in the cyber world. Someone please remind me what USW stands for! Is it United Street Walkers? Yeah, thats definitely what it means for the the goons yelling profane obscenity from the "sidelines". How's that solidarity working out for ya now? Na na na na Contract Expired, Hey Hey Hey.... Goodbyeeeeee!!
disappointed in support commented at 5/18/2011 8:48:00 PM:
SCAB 3 What are you 2 or 2 1/2 yrs old? Does this sound like and adult? NOT
stingraysvt commented at 5/23/2011 11:31:00 AM:
Isn't that what makes Columbus or the South for that matter so appealing to all of this industry that is calling us their new home. No organized unions? I hate to see a company re-negotiate on it's existing employees in this day and age, especially ones with the years in that some of the original employees had. At least they didn't pull the plug entirely and ship the work across the border or overseas somewhere...
I'm all for equal and fair pay but this is the reason that got major metro areas are in the jam they are in now. Car manufacturers are paying someone $85 an hour to put lug nuts on a vehicle, therefore driving up the costs of finished goods. I have a college education and I'm glad I make $15-$18 and hour!
Great employers garner the talent they have by being fair to their workers. If you don't like what your employer is offering why are you there in the first place?
Businessmen and women have an obligation to their workers for a fair wage and/or compensation, and to their clients for a great product at a fair price. When you have 20 people working on a line making $15 an hour plus Insurance, 401k, vision, dental, etc..., costs might be fair and manageable.
Take those same employees and give them $35- $40 an hour and overhead increases dramatically. Next thing you know those employees will have multiple, cars, boats, atv's and a summer home and not be able to afford all the luxuries anymore so they will have to negotiate a new deal for 50-$75 an hour so they can keep on enjoying their life well into retirement along with their pension they begin to draw when they retire after 20 years with a mere high school education and have it better than those of us who have tried to do better for ourselves.
What kind of message does this send to other industry entering our area? "Come in if you dare... we have a right to organize!"?
I think Columbus is on a good track to offer our entire workforce and surrounding areas the opportunity to have a great job and great pay, along with all the perks that come to a community with a good tax base and revenue stream. Look around now we are seeing the fruits of those with new developments all the time. Soon Columbus will rival our neighbors to the north and the south and be a great hub of the south.
Unions are just going to interrupt that prosperity and bring it crashing down.
2. Photos: Market Street 2015 COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
3. A closer look at the Lowndes Co. bond issue COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
4. Community unites for Nepal at MUW candlelight vigil COLUMBUS & LOWNDES COUNTY
5. Starkville market, arts walk scheduled Saturday STARKVILLE & OKTIBBEHA COUNTY