Navigation Bar

Home -> UE News -> 2000 Archives -> Article

Local 715 Union Pioneer
Looks to Past And Future

EDON, Ohio

Jim Vandevoorde

Local 715 officers recently congratulated Jim Vandevoorde, one of the local union’s founders, on the occasion of his retirement. Jim began work at the small Edon plant of Simpson Industries in 1962.

Three years later, the plant still employed only around 30 workers, and people were not happy with how they were treated and compensated. "The guys all got together and decided that the compensation wasn’t very good, the vacation plan wasn’t very good," Jim recalls. "Some guys were getting a nickel raise every time you turned around and other guys weren’t getting nothing. They were hiring people right off the street and paying them more than we were getting.

"It don’t take too much of that before people start thinking, ‘Hey, there’s got to be a different way.’" With help from the independent National Industrial Workers Union, Simpson workers organized, signed union cards, and won an NLRB election. "It passed by one or two votes," remembers Jim. The new union was Local 615 of the NIWU.

Jim Vandevoorde served as a union officer and helped negotiate the first few contracts. "I pretty much wrote them myself," he remembers.


In 1993, attracted by the increased help and resources they could gain in UE while retaining local rank-and-file control, Simpson workers voted to affiliate with UE, and became, along with the rest of the NIWU, amalgamated Local 793. In 1996 Simpson workers voted nearly unanimously to form their own local affiliated directly with UE, and became UE Local 715.

Local 715’s membership is now around 240 and growing. The Edon plant is hiring new employees, gaining new business as a "first tier" producer of parts for the major auto companies, and was recently recognized by Simpson Industries as its best performing plant. As the local prepares to negotiate a new contract over the next few weeks, Jim Vandevoorde offered some advice to his fellow workers.

"Always look to the future. The economy may be good right now, but there will be a time when things get slow. Be prepared for that. Don’t spend everything you’ve got today, and when you negotiate, don’t put everything into wages. You’re going to need it somewhere else. Think about your retirement, and insurance. Your insurance can kill you if you have a major catastrophe and your insurance doesn’t adequately cover it."

Jim Vandevoorde’s parting words to UE members: "Good luck to everybody. Think real hard about your contract, and stick together."

UE News - 02/00

Home -> UE News -> 2000 Archives -> Article

Home • About UE • Organize! • Independent Unions • Search • Site Guide • What's New • Contact UE
UE News • Political Action • Info for Workers • Resources • Education • Health & Safety • International • Links

Copyright © 2003 UE. All Rights Reserved