Workers at injection molder Engineered Plastic Components Inc. in Grinnell, Iowa, have voted to unionize the firm's plant there.
The Oct. 24 vote to join United Auto Workers Local 997 was supported by ``a significant margin'' of EPC's 200 employees, according to UAW 997 Vice President Ted Johnson.
``Some of the biggest issues were respect and safety,'' Johnson said of the unionizing effort. ``It's been a pretty tense and hostile work environment.''
Johnson said in a Nov. 13 telephone interview that he had a productive meeting with EPC plant manager John Olson and other EPC officials Nov. 11 to discuss working conditions at the 120,000-square-foot plant. The two sides are set to meet again next month.
Neither Olson nor EPC owner Reza Kargarzadeh could be reached for comment. Kargarzadeh, who launched EPC in 1994, did not attend the UAW meeting.
In the meantime, UAW 997 also has appealed to the National Labor Relations Board to reinstate nine employees who allegedly were fired by EPC for organizing the union effort. NLRB has authority to have EPC rehire those employees with back pay, according to Johnson.
EPC custom molds parts in a range of markets for customers such as John Deere Inc. and Maytag Corp., which operates a large assembly and molding plant in Newton, Iowa.
Johnson said EPC is the first plastics firm represented in Local 997. The local represents 2,900 workers - including the workforce at Maytag's Newton plant - and 1,800 retirees.
Late last year, EPC quadrupled its sales by purchasing custom injection molder Pella Plastics in Pella, Iowa. The ac- quisition lifted EPC's annual sales to $40 million. The UAW vote does not cover EPC's plant in Pella.
Earlier this year, EPC completed a $1.4 million expansion in Grinnell that increased the plant's size by 50 percent.