Ferry Industries Inc., which manufactures rotational molding machines, has fired 12 workers who left work June 3, calling their action an illegal work stoppage that violates the Stow, Ohio, company's union contract.
The workers claim fumes in the plant made them concerned about their health, and they left work to see their doctors.
Meanwhile, Ferry management is replacing the 12 workers, members of United Paperworkers International Union Local 7607.
Ferry issued a news release June 5, saying that management had approached the union during the past several months about contractual work rules that management believed were being abused.
On the morning of June 3, management posted a memo reminding workers of the work rules. According to the news release, the union held a meeting during lunch that day, with management's OK.
``The union meeting took place at noon, and was followed almost immediately by the illegal work stoppage, in which 12 of our unionized employees clocked out and left work,'' Ferry said in the news release.
``We have very strong reasons to believe that this meeting was the cause of the illegal work stoppage on Wednesday,'' the release said.
Other employees stayed at work and completed their shifts that day.
Plant workers and union officials could not be reached for comment.
But an Akron Beacon Journal story published June 5 quoted workers as saying they felt sick. The next day, they presented doctors' excuses, as required under the contract.
The Ferry release said the company immediately called an Akron firm, American Analytical Laboratories, to check air quality. It found ``no hazardous chemicals or other agents in the air.'' Management also claims the doctor's notes were signed late in the day June 5, through the evening and on the following day — indicating the workers did not immediately visit their doctors after they left work.
Ferry President W. Harry Covington Jr. could not be reached for comment.