Workers at Hartley Manufacturing Inc., a Ravenswood, W.Va., recycler, will vote Sept. 28-29 on whether to affiliate with a union. The Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers union requested the election, affecting about 140 workers, after several months of negotiations.
Bo Hartley, president of the company, which recycles plastics, including nylon from the nearby DuPont Co. facility in Charleston, W.Va., refused to discuss the specific processes and products at the plant. However, he said he was surprised and disappointed that employees sought union help.
``Apparently some people thought their voices were not heard,'' he said. ``But we have always thought we had good communication with the employees.''
Hartley denied published reports that workers make between $5.50 and $10 per hour, saying even a summer intern at the plant was paid $6.50 per hour. He said that after an initial probationary period, most workers' pay started at $8 per hour.
``I don't think that this is about wages,'' said Dan Stewart, organizing director for the OCAW's international office. ``I think that some of the workers contacted us because they felt some of the rules in the workplace were subject to change at the whim of management, and that they were looking for more uniform application of work rules.''
Stewart said about 20,000 of the union's members worldwide work in the plastics or plastics-related industries. That figure represents about one-fifth of the OCAW's total membership.
Hartley said he does not think the workers need a third party to represent them, and that he was willing to talk to employees. He declined to discuss what effect union organization at the plant would have on the firm.