Nearly 2,100 employees at R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the cigarette-maker which markets the Camel and Salem brands, voted against union representation for the second time in as many years, a decision seen as a vote of confidence by Reynolds and coercion by union organizers.
Production and maintenance workers voted 1,228 to 862, with 23 challenged and two void ballots in a preliminary count against representation by the group of three unions known as the United Tobacco Alliance. The vote will be certified by the National Relations Labor Board within seven days.
â€œWe thank the employees for the confidence they have placed in the companyâ€™s leadership team and in their management,â€ said Lynn J. Beasley, president and chief operating officer for R.J. Reynolds.
The vote, which began on May 11 and concluded today, makes Reynolds, the nationâ€™s second largest tobacco company, the only major cigarette company whose production workers do not have union representation. Last year, employees rejected union representation by a vote of nearly 2 to 1.
Alliance representatives said in a statement that they did not consider the vote fair, alleging that the company had launched an â€œanti-union,â€ â€œcoerciveâ€ campaign to â€œintimidateâ€ workers to vote against the union which threatened to shut down plants and send jobs overseas.
The UTA would normally respect the wishes of the majority of the
workers and the results of this union election, said John Price, a UTA organizer. He added that there had been an â€œoverwhelmingâ€ number of complaints by employees.
â€œâ€¦we do not believe this was a fair election,â€ he said.
The UTA is a partnership comprised of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM).
Reynoldsâ€™ Beasley exhorted for unity.
â€œWe must now all work together, as one team, to continue building a winning company,â€ he said.
Workers at Reynolds have not had a union since the 1940s. The company has previously battled attempts at unionization and has acknowledged holding meetings with employees to get its message across.
Shares of Reynoldsâ€™ parent company, Reynolds American Inc. ended down $1.14, or 1.02 percent at $110.43 on Friday.