Machinists District Lodge W24 yesterday formally withdrew as the representative of about 40 workers at a Bodycote plant in Camas, Washington. Workers there voted 22-16 to unionize on June 14, 2014, but the union was never able to reach agreement with the company on a first union contract. Negotiations were limited to a once-a-month fly-in by a company attorney based in Oklahoma, and even with the final meetings assisted by federal mediator Darrell Clark, the two sides never agreed on any substantive economic issues.
“The company stalled us out forever and a day,” District Lodge W24 representative Will Lukens told the Labor Press.
UK-headquartered Bodycote is a multinational corporation specializing in heat treatment of aircraft and automotive components, with over 190 locations worldwide. Its Camas plant heat treats titanium aerospace parts for Precision Castparts.
Lukens said union support dwindled as contract negotiations dragged on for 17 months, and union supporters quit or were terminated. The union picketed several times, but never struck. On Jan. 22, Tom Barwise, a former union supporter, filed a petition to decertify the union, and an election was scheduled for today and tomorrow. Knowing it no longer had majority support, District Lodge W24 withdrew to avoid the need for an election.
“It’s very frustrating, it’s disappointing, but [working people] have to understand it’s a fight,” Lukens said. “If they don’t beat you in organizing campaign, they try to beat you at the table, stalling it out.”