Prevail in Vote
For UE — Again!
Alderman Rick Muñoz addresses
GATX workers and supporters outside the company’s headquarters in downtown Chicago.
The approximately 130 workers at the GATX Logistics warehouse
in nearby Hodgkins, Il. voted to join UE for the second time this year, in an
August election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board. Employees won
the first election in April, 66-43-1 — but as result of a bureaucratic error
on the part of the NLRB, they were forced to face the company in a second
Given a second chance to beat UE, GATX poured tens of
thousands of dollars into consultants and anti-union meetings during the
summer. However, an outstanding organizing committee that took responsibility
for building the union in the shop successfully increased UE’s margin of
victory by five votes in the second election. UE won 67 to 39 in the Aug. 14
poll, with a company union receiving no votes.
GATX workers began to organize with UE in January of this year
— and within only a couple of days 90 percent of the employees signed UE
cards. Workers were angered by years of wages below industry standard, family
health insurance costing over $200 per month, as well as seniority and job
security. Other important issues include ending random drug testing,
decreasing the company’s use of temporary employees, and establishing a
strong steward system.
FIGHTING FOR THE UNION
In the second campaign, the new UE members stood up for their
union, arguing with managers and consultants during anti-union meetings and in
the break room. Workers were threatened with lay-offs, plant closings, and
long delays in contract negotiations should they vote union.
At the end of July, GATX workers, along with union and
community supporters, held a rally in front of the GATX headquarters in
downtown Chicago. GATX worker Patrick Grant told the crowd that
"The company threatened us that should we vote UE, we will get their
worst raise ever." Grant assured that crowd that with UE, "We are
going to get our best raises ever!"
"The rally was important for the way it energized the
members who came," says District 11 Pres. Carl Rosen, who assisted
the campaign. "They were energized in part with realization that were
other unionists from around Chicago willing to stand with them in their
In the final day before the election, pro-UE workers brought a
TV and VCR into the break room and played a pro-union video. The video
featured GATX workers describing their working conditions and their demands
and included footage of their demonstration at GATX headquarters in downtown
Chicago. (Playing videos is covered by the same laws as leafleting and can be
done in non-work areas on non-work times.)
Importantly, UE members from Locals 151, 1114, 1172, and 1107,
as well as Local 190 retirees, came to union meetings to talk with GATX
workers about UE. Tom Dunne, Local 1172, and Uvaldo Pizano,
Local 1114, made home visits. Glenn Bush, Local 1107, drove four hours
to attend meetings with GATX workers.
GATX warehouses train parts made by General Motors’
Chartered as UE Local 1166, the GATX workers’ union began
bargaining with the company at the end of September. The bargaining committee
is Bernice Anderson, Manny Arreola, Patrick Grant, Larry
Palmer, Damaris Santana, and alternate Jose Santiago.
GATX workers were assisted in organizing and during the two
election campaigns by UE Field Organizers Sam Smucker and Ramiro
Castillo, with additional
assistance by Intl. Rep. Tim Curtin, Field Organizer Mindy Williams and District 11 Office Manager Shirley