In a rare victory in the plastics industry, the International Union of Electrical Workers successfully organized workers at Paragon Industries Inc., a privately owned custom injection molder in Warren, Ohio.
Now the company and new members of the IUE have to figure out what to do with their new relationship.
After a five-month campaign, workers at Paragon voted 102-67 on July 24 to accept the IUE as their bargaining representative, IUE spokeswoman Lauren Asplen said in a telephone interview.
``The people had very little to lose,'' Asplen said of the workers who voted for the union. ``They were making $5.40 an hour. They could go to 7-Eleven and make more than that.''
Asplen also said workers enjoyed few benefits.
``It was just a culmination of saying enough is enough; we want a change,'' Asplen said.
When called July 31, a Paragon official said, ``There will be no comment by the company right now.''
Now that it has won at the polls, the union will ask the company to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement after the National Labor Relations Board certifies the election results, Asplen said.
Paragon is a supplier to nearby Packard Electric, where IUE also represents workers, Asplen said. The union hopes to use that relationship as a kind of pre-bargaining chip.
``We hope we can get them to stop any kind of challenges and sit down at the bargaining table as soon as possible,'' Asplen said.
IUE has had at least some successes in plastics in the past 15 years.
A database of all NLRB-certified elections shows the IUE held elections in at least 19 plastics plants between 1984 and 1996. The union won six times.
Overall, unions won about 32 percent of elections held in plastics plants during those years, compared with a 45 percent victory record in all industries combined.