FAYETTEVILLE, Tenn. (WHNT) — Nearly 1,000 workers at an air conditioning manufacturing plant in Tennessee are on strike. Employees at Goodman Manufacturing formed a picket line on Sunday.
The unionized employees at Fayetteville’s Goodman manufacturing plant voted Saturday to go on strike after the expiration of a three-year collective bargaining agreement signed December 5, 2009, by the International Association of Machinists, Lodge 2385.
IAM spokesperson Jerry Benson said the sides have not agreed to new terms.
“We’ve had meetings October through November, and for the last week we met,” he said.
“We got the last, best, and final [offer] last night from the company about 630 or so, and we took it to a vote of the members today,” Benson said.
More than two-thirds of the members voted in favor of going on strike.
Benson worked for Goodman for 30 years, and took part in their last strike in 1978. It lasted from July through December, and he said starting now won’t be easy.
“We have a lot of young members with young children, and there’s not a good time of year for something like this to happen, but right here at Christmas, it’s going to be hard on the families here, but they made their decision on what they felt they had to do,” Benson said.
He said to make life better for their families in the future, they are willing to sacrifice now.
The company offered a new contract and the union membership found it sub-standard.
“We’ve done a lot to help this company over the years. We’ve created two-tier wage system things like that and made it easier to hire people, and helped this company grow.
“It’s a booming company and the members of this local just felt like the company was shifting too much of the medical costs to them,” he said.
The employees are part of a group health insurance plan and pay a portion of their premiums, but Benson said the new proposal shifts too much of the costs to the workers.
The union also said the proposed contract revises the attendance policy and workers found it unreasonable, and they “basically want respect on the job.”
Benson said he wants the company to succeed and continue to grow, but wants the higher-ups to realize and recognize how much their workers matter. He said they will show this through the strike.
“We believe it will have a tremendous impact. They can’t run without us,” said Benson. “We don’t want to hurt this company, we just want a fair shake for the people that have worked over the past eight to 10 years that helped this company grow.”
“People felt like they’d given all they could over the years and they needed to take a step forwards and not backwards,” Benson added.
Japanese manufacturer Daikin bought Goodman Global Group Inc. in August. Daikin is the world’s biggest Heating-Ventilating-Air Conditioning manufacturer, with over $15 billion in sales in 2011.