The anti-union tobacco giant RJ Reynolds in Winston-Salem, NC, has agreed to post notices advising employees of their right to organize a union at all facilities involved in last year’s union election for nearly 2,000 production and maintenance workers.
The agreement by RJ Reynolds is in response to Unfair Labor Practice charges brought before the National Labor Relations Board by the IAM, who joined forces with Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International (BCTGM) to bring representation to the notoriously anti-union workplace. While the election fell short, it was the closest workers at RJ Reynolds came to winning a union in nearly 30 years.
“Workers at RJ Reynolds were made to fear for their jobs if they voted for union representation,” said Southern Territory GVP Bob Martinez. “It’s a violation of federal labor law to make such threats, but the process is slow and the remedy is rarely strong enough to reassure employees that their rights will be fully respected. We need labor laws in this country that are every bit as strong as the people who depend on them.”
During the organizing campaign, Reynolds conducted captive audience meetings with employees, threatened to close the facility if employees voted to join a union and hired a union avoidance law firm.