As labor activity in Georgia heats up, ACC runs down union filings and elections this year. Highlights include Hormel Foods and Atlanta Gas Light workers winning elections while Aramark Uniform sales reps lost theirs. Brewers at Creature Comforts Brewery are also seeking a union election amidst disputes with ownership about what workers are eligible to be included in the election unit.
Georgia has caught some of the bigger waves of union and labor-rights actions that have swept the country since the COVID-19 pandemic, like the ones at Starbucks and Delta Air Lines, where flight attendants have stepped up their unionization drive and unionized Delta pilots just won a new contract with a 34% cumulative pay increase after voting to strike in October. But the state’s union density rate is still low, compared to other regions of the country.
One reason for Georgia’s union density rate of just 4.4% is that it’s a ”right to work” state, which means employees can get the benefits of working at a unionized company without having to pay union dues.
We’ve tracked all of the union filings in Georgia to date, so here’s a rundown. Small units of workers at Hormel Foods and Atlanta Gas Light in Atlanta have won union elections and filed for recognition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), while a group of salespeople at Aramark Uniform & Career Apparel in Savannah lost theirs.
Workers at five other companies, including Creature Comforts Brewing Co., have filed union representation petitions to hold elections with the NLRB. To hold an election, at least 30% of the workers in the unit must indicate they are in favor of unionizing.
In total, just over 1,600 workers in Georgia have been involved in union filings or other petitions for union representation so far this year.
Creature Comforts Brewing Co., Athens
At Creature Comforts Brewing Co. the 73 employees who make the beer filed for union representation in mid-January and announced the formation of the Brewers’ Union of Georgia. Since then, they’ve been working toward getting a union election scheduled. The holdup has been a dispute between employees and management over which workers are eligible to vote in the union election.
The union unit is strictly for rank-and-file workers, but Creature Comforts’ management claims some of the workers are supervisors, so can’t vote, so they’ve had to go to the NLRB for a ruling. Once the NLRB has determined the formal voting unit, an election can be scheduled.
Relatedly, the Brewers’ Union of Georgia organizers have filed unfair labor practices charges with the NLRB claiming that management is illegally interfering with unionization efforts.
Hormel Foods, Tucker
A unit made up of 24 warehouse purchasing, inventory, storeroom clerks, and quality control auditors filed for representation on January 31 and won their election 16-5 (with three abstentions) on March 9, which the NLRB certified on March 17. The workers joined the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 1996.
Atlanta Gas Light, Atlanta
At Atlanta Gas Light a unit of 17 gas controllers filed for union representation on Jan. 31 and won their union election after a votes tally on Feb. 27, which the NLRB certified on March 7. They voted 12-4 (with one abstention) in favor of joining a bargaining unit consisting of Atlanta Gas Light dispatchers as part of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 1997. Atlanta Gas Light is a subsidiary of Southern Company, which also owns Georgia Power.
Aramark Uniform & Career Apparel, Savannah
A group of 10 salespeople at Aramark Uniform & Career Apparel in Savannah that’s trying to unionize with Teamsters Local 728 lost their March 23 election by a 5-3 vote, with 2 abstentions.
Neuro Tour Physical Therapy, Marietta
Workers filed on March 23 but encountered opposition from their employers and are awaiting a hearing from the NLRB before their union election can be scheduled. Currently, the election unit is made up of 14 physical therapists and athletic trainers who work on performing arts and entertainment tours. Organizers aim to join the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE).
Blue Bird, Fort Valley and Macon
For the national school bus company, a unit of 1,350 workers filed for a union election on April 4 and received an approval notice from the NLRB on April 21. The election has not yet taken place.
UPS Cartage Services / Supply Chain Solutions, Forest Park
Two groups of clerical workers–a 21-employee unit of UPS Cartage Solutions and a 34-employee unit of UPS Supply Chain Solutions filed for self-determination elections on April 10, with no elections yet scheduled. Both units are petitioning to join UPS’s International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 728 bargaining unit.
Unionized UPS workers are mostly represented by the Teamsters under UPS Teamsters United. These elections are typically held when an unrepresented part of a company is trying to come under the broader umbrella of representation.
The NLRB scheduled an April 28 hearing over the election petitions for the two UPS units and their workers, but UPS Cartage Services asked for a separate hearing. The NLRB agreed to do so and scheduled the hearing for UPS Cartage Services Unit and its employees seeking to join the Teamsters for May 3.
First Transit, Atlanta
A unit of 44 drivers, dispatchers and technicians filed for union representation on April 25, with no election yet scheduled. First Transit is a national company that contracts to provide shuttle services to public universities and other public sector institutions. First Transit was acquired by national, private transportation operator TransDev in March. It is not yet clear how the sale will impact workers’ unionization efforts.