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UAW Wins 3-Year-Old Union Election Battle

May 27, 1987|HENRY WEINSTEIN | Times Labor Writer

A bitterly contested union representation election among 1,300 employees at a Van Nuys aluminum wheel manufacturer that led to a three-year battle before the National Labor Relations Board has resulted in victory for the United Auto Workers.

The NLRB ruling certifying the union election could lead to contract negotiations between the UAW and Superior Industries, one of the nation's largest manufacturers of aluminum wheel rims. Mike Feinberg, a lawyer for the union, said the battle could also move to the courts.

In 1984, UAW local 645 won by a 53%-to-47% margin the right to represent Superior's workers, many of whom are Mexican and Central American immigrants. The company filed 118 objections to the conduct of the election, touching off the appeals process.

In 1985, a company official said Superior asked the FBI to investigate the union. "We had heard the union was stockpiling weapons in Van Nuys for shipment to Communist radicals in Central America," George Musson, director of personnel said. "The employees working with the union to organize Superior are from Central America, and I would suspect they have Communist leanings."

Pete Beltran, president of local 645, denounced the charges as "patently false" and a sign of the company's hostility to union representation.

The UAW also charged that a number of pro-union workers were illegally fired during the campaign or just after the vote.

In 1986, an NLRB hearing officer ruled that the conduct of the election had been acceptable and certified the UAW as the workers' exclusive bargaining agent. The company appealed that ruling.

Board members Donald L. Dotson, Wilford W. Johansen and Marshall B. Babson upheld the hearing officer's decision in a ruling issued Thursday that arrived here by mail Tuesday, according Sidney Rosen of the NLRB's Westwood office.

Rosen said the Westwood office also has unfair practice charges pending against the company for allegedly firing two workers illegally in connection with the election.

Musson said Tuesday that the company had not received a copy of the decision and therefore could not make any detailed comment.

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