Chemical operators in Ohio vote unanimously to join the USW

Sam Howard has been a chemical operator at Detrex Corporation in Ashtabula, Ohio, for nine years. He and his fellow 20 workers produce high-purity hydrochloric acid for the pharmaceutical, food and beverage, semiconductor, and other industries.

As of late February, they are also now all members of the USW after a years-long campaign that reveals the power of persistence.

Howard and several other workers first began exploring joining the USW in 2020. The group was forced to run a mail-in vote due to COVID restrictions and endured a heavy anti-union campaign by the employer. As a result, they lost their election by one vote.

While the months passed, working conditions worsened. “Everyone quickly realized we had to try again,” Howard said.

The workers had stayed in touch with their USW-appointed staff representative and organizer, and decided to hold another union election in February 2024. This time, the victory was unanimous.

“We’re going to teach management how to treat us,” Howard said, noting that accountability is what he’s looking forward to the most with a collective bargaining agreement. “No more chaotic schedules and extreme vacation policies.”

The new members are in the midst of bargaining committee elections and are enthusiastic about the opportunity to get involved with the union.

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