Originally created 08/30/97

Union calls off organization effort



Blaming company anti-union tactics, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers has called off an effort to organize 140 Wackenhut Services employees.

Wackenhut provides security at the Savannah River Site nuclear defense plant and most of its employees are already organized under a different union.

A majority of the 140 workers rejected the union in a March election. However, the parties agreed to throw out those results after the National Labor Relations Board said the company had illegally threatened and disciplined employees volunteering for IBEW.

Despite the rebuke from the labor board, there wasn't enough union support in the end to justify a new election, the union concluded this week.

"Certainly it's a disappointment," said organizer Lindsay Nelson. "To me, it's a disappointment for the workers out there that were duped into believing they didn't need a union."

IBEW notified the labor board Friday it won't seek a second election at this time. A campaign to unionize 5,000 Westinghouse Savannah River Co. employees will continue, Mr. Nelson said.

Wackenhut spokesman Rob Davis said his company has not yet been notified of the union's decision to cancel the new election, and cannot comment on that decision.

"But if they decide to call it off we certainly would be pleased," he added. "We think employees spoke decisively and we feel there's been no change in sentiment since the first election. We think it's time we get on with our business."

In a letter to Wackenhut employees, IBEW accused the company of trying to "retain total control" of its workers.

"We are sure you would be amazed at the hundreds of thousands of dollars they spent to keep you `independent' and from becoming a union," the letter said. "This money could have been spent on improving your benefits and working conditions."

If support for the union grows in the future, IBEW won't rule out a second attempt to unionize the workers, Mr. Nelson said.