By Michael E. Kanell
By a three-vote margin, a national union has won the right to represent workers at a Nestlé’s facility in McDonough.
The 49-46 vote earlier this month authorized the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union to negotiate on behalf of the 102 eligible workers at the logistics and shipping center.
The union was happy to win, despite the razor-thin margin, said Chelsea Connor, a spokeswoman for the union. “We don’t anticipate winning with landslide votes in this era of union-busting.”
The private sector is overwhelmingly non-union, especially in Georgia.
Most of the workers in the Nestlé’s facility make between $16 and $22 an hour, she said. Negotiations for a contract should begin within the next several weeks, according to Connor.
Workers at Nestlé package and ship products, mostly chocolate milk powder.
While no similar organizing campaign is underway, the union sees a possibility in the many distribution centers ringing Atlanta, Connor said.
Although many distribution and “fulfillment” centers are filling orders via the Internet and the centers themselves use a great deal of technology, some human involvement is needed too, she said. “No matter how the products are bought, online or whatever, they have to be physically shipped.”
The union has 100,000 members nationally, including 5,000 workers in Georgia, according to Connor.
Most of the members in Georgia are in the state’s poultry processing sector, she said.
Nestlé is based in Switzerland and has recently announced plans to move U.S. headquarters from Connecticut to a Washington, D.C. suburb in Virginia. The company has 51,000 employees in the United States.
Read more from AJC.