Workers at a plastic film plant operated by DuPont in Pasadena, Texas, have voted to join a local union in advance of a split from a merged DowDuPont.
Engineers at the plant recently voted 28-2 to join the International Union of Operating Engineers. IUOE Local 564 represents more than 2,000 workers in southern Texas.
DowDuPont was formed in 2017 from the merger of plastics and chemicals giants Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. A new Dow Inc. split off from DowDuPont on April 1 and a new firm — Corteva Agriscience — will split from the remaining DuPont business on June 1.
The Pasadena plant, known as DuPont's Baytown site, employs 50 and produces polyimide film. Concerns about the impact of the spinoff on the plant was one of the reasons for the organizing effort, union official Charlie Singletary said in an April 23 phone interview.
"The vote sends a clear message," he added. "Workers there are ready for a change and they want a contract."
The organizing effort began in early March. The vote was held April 18 and 19, with results expected to be certified on April 24 or 25. Employees can begin negotiating with management on a contract after the vote is certified, Singletary said.
In an email to Plastics News, a DuPont spokesman said that the firm "confirms that a group of employees at DuPont's Bayport plant in Pasadena, Texas, have voted to be represented by the International Union of Operating Engineers."
"DuPont respects the rights of its employees to make this decision for themselves," he added. "The Bayport site is operating under business as usual conditions and expects to do so as we continue to prepare for the intended separation as an independent company on June 1, 2019."
The spokesman declined to comment on a Houston Chronicle report that plant managers "actively encouraged" workers to vote against unionizing and sent letters to employees arguing that a union was "a bad idea."
The union has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that DuPont "made coercive statements meant to squash workers' attempts to unionize," according to a recent Chronicle report. Such attempts would violate national labor law.