MACON, Ga. — Over 300 workers at Kumho Tire company have unionized– making them the second biggest company in recent months to join the United Steelworkers.
The other is Bluebird in Peach County.
Four years ago, James Golden said he needed a career change.
“I knew Kumho was a new plant, so I wanted to go somewhere I could grow,” he said.
Golden says as a belt operator, he likes the job but noticed that the company could use some change too.
“With it being a new plant, there was a lot of confusion about pay, confusion about fair labor practices,” he said. “I said, ‘yeah, we definitely need a union here.’”
Golden said he wanted to learn more about how to unionize and took a trip to their union hall.
“That’s when I met Shonda Reeves and she gave me all the information about what was going on, and what we needed to do," he said.
He learned about forming a bargaining committee, solidarity action, communicating, and unionizing without getting fired.
“You do it in the break rooms, you do it on social media, you do it in the parking lot. You see some guys, 'hey let's grab a beer after work,’” he said.
Golden said he wanted to help unionize for his family.
“I average 60 hours a week,” he said. “Working 12-hour shifts. On night shifts, I might not see them at all."
However, after speaking to coworkers about the issues they had with workplace conditions, Golden said he wanted to unionize for everyone's families.
“Most workers don't have a voice in the workplace. You don't have a say so about your wages, or your time, or any of your benefits," Golden said.
He says unionizing took five years.
“Actually bargaining about the contract, that took two years,” he said.
With fair wages, benefits, and committees to represent the workers on the line, they voted for the union on Tuesday and Wednesday.
On Thursday, they won.
“It was a relief, you know, a lot of emotions. We want you to come to work and be happy, but we also want you to have enough time to build yourself up. Be with your family,” he said.
Golden says change is here to stay.
The United SteelWorkers say the four-year union deal covers around 325 workers.
Golden says now they need to elect officers and build the union up.
We also reached out to Kumho Tires for comment multiple times and they did not respond.
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