(Rock Springs Rocket-Miner, August 23) – About 300 Ciner Wyoming workers will consider whether to unionize with the United Steelworkers of America Local 13214.
Votes will take place 5:30-9:30 a.m. and 5:30-8:30 p.m. Thursday and 5:30-9:30 a.m. and 5:30-7:30 p.m. Friday, United Steelworkers Organizer Bob Gooch said.
Gooch said 292 people will be eligible to vote. In order for it to pass, at least 147 workers need to choose unionizing.
The company released a statement about the upcoming vote.
“We are anxious for our team members to vote, will honor the outcome of the vote and pride ourselves on working directly with our team members,” Ciner Wyoming Site Manager Craig Rood said. “We look forward to that continued relationship. Our team members are intelligent and we’re confident they will fully examine all the facts before they vote.”
There are two trona mines with unions in Sweetwater County — Tata Chemicals and Genesis. Solvay and Ciner Wyoming do not have unions, USWA Local 13214 Staff Representative Monte Morlock said.
In February, Ciner employees reached out to the USWA and asked what steps were necessary to get into the steelworkers union, Morlock said.
On Aug. 8, the USW union filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company, according to the National Labor Relations Board website. Gooch said the complaint was made as a response to the company’s attempt to discourage its employees from unionizing by taking away its proposed new insurance plan if they joined.
“We understand that USW has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company,” Rood said. “We are sure there is no merit to this charge, which will be proven after the investigation.”
Morlock said if the workers vote to unionize, then Ciner will take the offer off the table and keep the original rates, adding that management has been coming down and intimidating workers so they could vote against unionization.
When asked about the perceived threat, Rood said, “Ciner is committed to providing team members with substantiated facts so they can make informed decisions on a variety of issues.”
“We believe in working directly with our team members and have a strong history in doing so,” he added.
If workers decide to unionize, then a negotiations committee would be assembled and create a bargaining survey to see what members want. They will then sit down and use the feedback to draft a proposal to take with them to management at the bargaining table, Morlock said.
If workers say no to joining, then they will have to be at least a year until the issue can be put up for another vote, he said.
“As we mentioned earlier, we are anxious for our team members to vote and will honor the outcome of the vote,” Rood said. “Ciner’s success as a company is a direct result of our people and the values on which our company has been built — leadership, integrity, respect and commitment. Our team members, their well-being, their families and our community are Ciner priorities.”