EMPLOYEES AT THE Camden Slag Plant in Camden, New Jersey, voted to join the Boilermakers union on an eight to three vote following a focused organizing campaign. Jody Mauller, ISO Great Lakes organizing coordinator for the M.O.R.E Work Investment Fund, said he, along with organizers Steve Adair and Mya Fillingham, ran a short two-month outreach.
“It moved pretty quickly,” Mauller said. “They were just ready.”
One of the eleven workers at the slag plant had been a Boilermaker in a previous job, but when he took a new position at Camden Slag, he found the plant was non-union. So he reached out to his former coworker, James Hall, now president of Local 19 (Philadelphia).
“The guys [from Camden Slag] came to me and wanted to start a union,” Hall said. “I told them what the union was about and they were very interested.”
Enter Mauller and his team, who listened to employee grievances, gathered authorization cards and then readied them for a vote to unionize. He said varying rules and favoritism were what finally pushed workers to find a solution.
“They got tired of management doing whatever they wanted,” Mauller said. “I think it came down to people wanting a voice. The fact is with a contract, the employer can’t make up rules as they go along.”
As soon as the National Labor Relations Board certifies the vote, an international rep from the Boilermakers will aid workers in getting their first union contract. Until then, Mauller said that someone from the organizing team will check in to make sure the workers stay organized and engaged.
The Camden Slag Plant is a part of the Lehigh Hanson suite of companies. Boilermakers currently represent nine Lehigh plants in the U.S. and Canada.