Threats, Intimidation Force Reynolds Tobacco Workers to Vote Down the Union

May 12, 2006, 01:00 ET from United Tobacco Alliance

    WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The UNITED TOBACCO ALLIANCE
 for a Voice and Freedom (UTA) is a partnership between the Bakery,
 Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union
 (BCTGM) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace
 Workers (IAM). This partnership was formed after workers at Reynolds
 American Tobacco requested the participation of both International unions
 to form a union at two tobacco plants in Winston-Salem, N.C.
     At the request of the majority of workers employed at Reynolds American
 Tobacco Company, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) conducted a
 secret ballot election on May 11. The preliminary vote stands at 862 for
 union representation, 1,228 against union representation, 23 challenged
 ballots and two void ballots.
     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. 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, conducted captive
 audience meetings and played streaming daily anti-union videos in the
 workers' lunchroom.
     "The company's high priced campaign of half truths, innuendos and
 veiled threats coerced a majority of Reynolds' workers into voting no,"
 notes John Price, a BCTGM International Representative and UTA Organizer.
 "Clearly, workers could not vote freely or fairly."
     Due to the egregious behavior of the company and a large number of
 violations of worker rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA),
 Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges have been filed against Reynolds. In
 addition, the UTA intends to file additional ULPs as well as objections to
 the conduct of the election with the NLRB.
     Reynolds workers were supported in their organizing efforts by food and
 tobacco unions from all over the world. Reynolds' controlling shareholder,
 British American Tobacco, based in London, negotiates with unions in most
 of its production facilities around the globe. Workers in those facilities
 and elsewhere were shocked that BAT, responsible under global labor
 standards for its affiliate, stood by while management at Reynolds
 threatened to move production from the United States to third world
 countries and committed other violations of the law.
     The International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), the Geneva
 Switzerland-based global union federation for workers in the food, tobacco,
 and related industries, provided information to these and other unions and
 mobilized letters to BAT protesting the gross violations of worker rights
 by its affiliate Reynolds. Those messages of protest to BAT in London and
 support for Reynolds workers poured in from unions in the European Union,
 Russia, Japan, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. The International
 Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) representing union central
 bodies around the globe also sent a letter of support.
     The IUF also filed complaints against BAT and its affiliate Reynolds
 with the national offices in the United Kingdom and U.S. responsible for
 monitoring compliance with guidelines for behavior of multinational
 enterprises agreed to by governments in the Organization for Economic
 Cooperation and Development (OECD). It is a violation of those guideline to
 threaten to move production as retaliation for union activity as Reynolds
 did in its literature and captive audience meetings.
     "The UTA would normally respect the wishes of the majority of the
 workers and the results of this union election," says Price. "But workers
 were not allowed to vote freely without coercion and intimidation and based
 on the overwhelming number of complaints coming directly from Reynolds
 workers about the company's behavior, we do not believe this was a fair
 election," Price concludes.
 
 

SOURCE United Tobacco Alliance
    WINSTON-SALEM, N.C., May 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The UNITED TOBACCO ALLIANCE
 for a Voice and Freedom (UTA) is a partnership between the Bakery,
 Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union
 (BCTGM) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace
 Workers (IAM). This partnership was formed after workers at Reynolds
 American Tobacco requested the participation of both International unions
 to form a union at two tobacco plants in Winston-Salem, N.C.
     At the request of the majority of workers employed at Reynolds American
 Tobacco Company, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) conducted a
 secret ballot election on May 11. The preliminary vote stands at 862 for
 union representation, 1,228 against union representation, 23 challenged
 ballots and two void ballots.
     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. 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, conducted captive
 audience meetings and played streaming daily anti-union videos in the
 workers' lunchroom.
     "The company's high priced campaign of half truths, innuendos and
 veiled threats coerced a majority of Reynolds' workers into voting no,"
 notes John Price, a BCTGM International Representative and UTA Organizer.
 "Clearly, workers could not vote freely or fairly."
     Due to the egregious behavior of the company and a large number of
 violations of worker rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA),
 Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charges have been filed against Reynolds. In
 addition, the UTA intends to file additional ULPs as well as objections to
 the conduct of the election with the NLRB.
     Reynolds workers were supported in their organizing efforts by food and
 tobacco unions from all over the world. Reynolds' controlling shareholder,
 British American Tobacco, based in London, negotiates with unions in most
 of its production facilities around the globe. Workers in those facilities
 and elsewhere were shocked that BAT, responsible under global labor
 standards for its affiliate, stood by while management at Reynolds
 threatened to move production from the United States to third world
 countries and committed other violations of the law.
     The International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), the Geneva
 Switzerland-based global union federation for workers in the food, tobacco,
 and related industries, provided information to these and other unions and
 mobilized letters to BAT protesting the gross violations of worker rights
 by its affiliate Reynolds. Those messages of protest to BAT in London and
 support for Reynolds workers poured in from unions in the European Union,
 Russia, Japan, Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. The International
 Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) representing union central
 bodies around the globe also sent a letter of support.
     The IUF also filed complaints against BAT and its affiliate Reynolds
 with the national offices in the United Kingdom and U.S. responsible for
 monitoring compliance with guidelines for behavior of multinational
 enterprises agreed to by governments in the Organization for Economic
 Cooperation and Development (OECD). It is a violation of those guideline to
 threaten to move production as retaliation for union activity as Reynolds
 did in its literature and captive audience meetings.
     "The UTA would normally respect the wishes of the majority of the
 workers and the results of this union election," says Price. "But workers
 were not allowed to vote freely without coercion and intimidation and based
 on the overwhelming number of complaints coming directly from Reynolds
 workers about the company's behavior, we do not believe this was a fair
 election," Price concludes.
 
 SOURCE United Tobacco Alliance