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Kumho Tire union vote came down to four ballots. Now, the results are being challenged.

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Workers at Kumho Tire in Macon narrowly voted in favor of forming a union last week, but ballots have been challenged.

Kumho, a company based in Seoul, Korea, employs approximately 325 people in Macon and has the capacity to produce 4 million tires per year. The $450 million Kumho plant opened in 2016.

The final union count last week showed 141 votes for a union and 137 against, with 13 votes being challenged, according to a release from the United Steelworkers union.

“We look forward to resolving these challenges as quickly as possible so that these workers can finally have the chance to sit down with the company and bargain a fair contract ” United Steelworkers District 9 Director Daniel Flippo said in the release.

Mel Haas, a Macon attorney representing Kumho, said once the challenged ballots are resolved, he believes the final count will go the other way.

“Obviously the company thinks the majority of the employees haven’t selected the union,” Haas said. “I think the employees will ultimately decide to speak for themselves and not pay anybody to be their spokesman.”

The National Labor Relations Board will hold a hearing on the challenged ballots, the union release stated.

Haas said the company, the union and the National Labor Relations Board challenged ballots.

He said there were a variety of issues, but one was whether certain voters were supervisors, who are not supposed to participate in the vote. The union alleged the voters were supervisors, while the company says they are not, Haas said.

Last week’s vote marked the second time the employees had voted on forming a union. In October 2017, they voted 164 to 136 against the union. But United Steelworkers appealed, alleging the company violated federal laws leading up to the vote.

On May 14 an administrative law judge ruled in favor of the union and ordered a new election. The judge determined that plant supervisors and company officials threatened employees with the loss of jobs or the closure of the Macon plant, and that some employees were improperly questioned about their views on unionization.

In May the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Kumho more than $500,000 after health and safety hazards were reported in an inspection. The company was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program for having failed to address prior safety issues.

Wayne Crenshaw has worked as a journalist since 1990 and has been a reporter for The Telegraph since 2002. He holds a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from Georgia College and is a resident of Warner Robins.
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