Workers at power plant withdraw union petition | CraigDailyPress.com
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Workers at power plant withdraw union petition

Christina M. Currie

Employees of Hamon Research-Cottrell will not vote Thursday on whether to join a union, despite a Nov. 13 National Labor Relations Board ruling that said they could.

At the request of HRC employees, business managers for the Western Colorado Trades and Labor Organizing Committee withdrew the petition, effective today, that requested the vote.

The Western Colorado Trades and Labor Organizing Committee represents plumbers and pipe fitters, operating engineers, electrical workers and ironworkers and had hoped to represent the employees of HRC, saying employees aren’t being paid fair wages and do not have insurance benefits.

HRC was awarded a $58 million portion of a pollution control system upgrade for the Craig Station Power Plant.

Nearly two-thirds of HRC’s 30-person work force signed authorization cards that allowed union representatives to take their case to the National Labor Relations Board, but it seems those employees have changed their minds.

When union representatives asked HRC employees to a meeting nearly two weeks ago, most asked the union to withdraw its petition.

According to Matt Burtis, business manager for Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, Local 145, employees said they were promised a $3-an-hour pay raise, insurance and a Christmas party with bonuses if they convinced the union to withdraw its petition.

“It’s weird. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Burtis said. “If they don’t get their raises, they’ll ask us to come back. They’re using us against Hamon.”

Which is OK, he said. Getting people better wages and benefits is what the union is for.

“They formed their own little negotiating party,” Burtis said. “It was pretty neat to see, but I don’t think they have the power to get the changes made.”

Burtis said the unions plan to revisit Hamon employees in January to see if they got what they were promised.

“We’re being fair about this,” he said. “We’re giving Hamon the chance to do the right thing.”

Burtis said he thinks employees were asked to pull the petition because they were educated by Hamon, which employees say they were.

“Once the petition was granted, Hamon had meetings every day and handed out anti-union statements every day,” said Bobby Rains, a foreman for HRC.

Hamon handed out pamphlets stating it did opposed the union, he said.

Burtis said HRC employees asked him what the union could guarantee with its representation.

“It’s (stuff) that no one can guarantee,” Burtis said. “We asked them the same thing, ‘Can HRC guarantee any of the same things?’ It was pretty unanimous to give HRC a chance.”

Burtis said he believes a majority of the employees were convinced by two or three radicals with loud opinions.

“When the meeting was over and the radicals left, others approached us with questions,” he said.

Rains has been with HRC for nearly a year and still favors joining the union. He was one of two employees who testified before the National Labor Relations Board during the hearing at which the petition to vote was granted.

“Personally I think the majority of the guys didn’t want to be union employees and they thought Hamon would work with them,” he said. “The company somehow changed people’s minds and led them to believe Hamon would take care of them when the time came.”

According to Rains, Hamon hasn’t promised employees wage increases or bonuses, but did indicate it would be more open to listening to employee’s concerns if they did not join the union.

“I don’t think they’ve actually promised anything. They insinuated things would be done, but nothing has,” he said.

He doesn’t believe HRC will come through for employees, which means the union will be back.

“We’ll be back to resign authorization cards the first Monday of January,” Burtis said, indicating his belief that HRC will not give employees what they want.


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