Originally created 05/06/02

Union vote leads to trouble for workers



AIKEN - Odell Glover says he has given 44 of his 64 years in support of the companies that have run Langley's clay mine, most recently the Kentucky-Tennessee Clay Co.

In March 2000, Mr. Glover and other Kentucky-Tennessee workers voted 23-21 to unionize. Things have been pretty rough ever since, Mr. Glover said.

"I couldn't treat any animal I raised this way," Mr. Glover said. He said he isn't sure where he stands with the company, which is challenging the union vote. Mr. Glover and Myron Renew, the president of Local D-598 of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, were sued by the company, accused of intimidating fellow workers to vote union. The matter is pending in court.

The company has also appealed to the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, which is reviewing the vote. That could take a year, the company's attorney said.

Mr. Glover said he was fired in April for not talking to his plant manager. The manager, Murray Penner, had demanded that Mr. Glover explain a mistake Mr. Penner said he made April 1, Mr. Glover said.

On April 2, Mr. Glover visited his heart doctor, then returned to work April 3, at which time Mr. Penner asked Mr. Glover to explain the mistake.

Mr. Glover, who had a heart attack in December, said he gets excited when talking with Mr. Penner and was afraid to explain. He said Mr. Penner fired him, then called him later that day and told him to return to work April 4. Mr. Glover returned with Mr. Renew.

He "told me to be quiet; there's no union here," Mr. Renew said.

According to Mr. Glover, Mr. Penner asked for medical documentation on his heart ailment. Mr. Glover said he provided the documentation but hasn't heard from Kentucky-Tennessee since.

Mr. Penner referred questions about Mr. Glover's accusations to the company's attorney.

"I don't believe in taking our battles public," Mr. Penner said. "If they want to, that's fine."

Walt Lambeth, Kentucky-Tennessee's attorney in Atlanta, said Mr. Glover is on medical leave at his own request and has not been fired.

"He is free to return to work," Mr. Lambeth said.

Mr. Glover said a shoulder injury keeps him from returning to work, although he said he thought he had been fired until a reporter told him otherwise.

Reach Josh Gelinas at (803) 279-6895 or josh.gelinas@augustachronicle.com.