Workers decertify union, 7 month-long strike to end

Current and striking workers of Maremont Exhaust Products in Loudon County voted Friday to dissolve the union. The vote on whether to continue the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, Local 2545, at Maremont Exhaust Products was 223 to dissolve it and 141 to continue it, said Michael Moschel, the company’s attorney.

That means if there are no objections filed to the election the union will be decertified in seven days and the strike will be over, Moschel said.

The union declined comment.

In February, 227 union members went on strike primarily over significant increases in employee costs for health insurance. In early spring, the company permanently replaced about 150 of the striking workers.

Since the strike began, there have been reports of windows on vehicles being broken in drive-by shootings, a fire set at an employee’s house, an electrical transformer shot by a high-powered rifle, a bomb scare at the plant, tires being slashed, and rocks thrown at individuals and vehicles.

There was also an incident where a striking worker was injured after being struck by a vehicle being driven by a company security guard.

And in March, a Loudon County sheriff ’s deputy apologized for angrily confronting strikers on the picket line.

Maremont, which is owned by International Muffler Co. of Schulenburg, Texas, produces automotive exhaust components, including heavy-duty mufflers and catalytic converters.

The company filed unfair labor practices against the union, and that’s to be heard by the National Labor Relations Board on Oct. 15. The company alleges those practices included several criminal actions including shootings at the homes of non-striking employees.

Moschel said there were about 46 votes challenged but the company did not press the issue because they weren’t enough to change the outcome of the vote.

He said almost 70 people eligible to vote did not, but he did not know how many of those were current or past union members.

During the seven-month strike “lots of” union members got other jobs, Moschel said.


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