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Threats Force Reynolds Tobacco Workers to Vote Down the Union

Posted to the IUF website 17-May-2006

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Following a vicious anti-union campaign, workers at Reynolds Tobacco in Winston-Salem in the US State of North Carolina voted down the union in a ballot election held on May 11 under the auspices of the National Labor Relations Board.

In the press release issued immediately following the count, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers reported that 862 workers voted for union representation, while 1,228 voted against.

In the weeks leading up to the union election, Reynolds launched a vicious anti-union campaign designed to intimidate employees into voting against union representation by the BGTGM and the machinists' union IAM. Reynolds’ well-funded, coercive drive to instill fear in workers included threats to shut down the plants and move production overseas, to take away current benefits, captive audience meetings and showing anti-union videos in the workers lunchroom.

Due to the egregious behavior of the company and a large number of violations of worker rights, the union has filed charges under the National Labor Relations Act against Reynolds.

The IUF has filed complaints against BAT and its affiliate Reynolds under the OECD Guidelines for Multinationals. It is a violation of those guidelines to threaten to move production as retaliation for union activity as Reynolds did in its literature and captive audience meetings.

Reynolds workers were supported in their organizing efforts by food and tobacco unions from all over the world. The IUF provided information on the union organizing effort in Winston-Salem and mobilized support letters to the workers and letters to BAT protesting the gross violations of worker rights by its affiliate in the United States. On behalf of the BCTGM, the IUF thanks all organisations which sent messages for their solidarity and support.

Click here for the full text of the press release.