Lipton factory workers vote to unionize.
Lipton Tea employees at the company’s Suffolk, Va. factory, which produces all of the Lipton Tea bags sold in North America, voted to unionize August 29 with a majority vote of 108 workers for and 79 against. The workers now join the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW Local 400).
According to a report in The Virginian-Pilot, following the company’s announcement of a $96 million expansion three years ago, workers’ shifts have included 12-hour days and some workers were expected to work for 13 days straight without a day off, a practice they called “drafting.”
The union and workers will negotiate a new labor contract with Unilever, which owns Lipton Tea. Virginia law allows employees of a unionized workplace to benefit from terms negotiated by a union without personally joining it or paying dues.
Following the vote, Lipton Tea workers held a press conference announcing their victory.
“For the last ten years, we’ve seen our benefits decline. By standing together as one, as a union, we hope we can stop the bleeding now before it’s too late,” said Alvin Brown, an operations technician who has worked at the factory for 21 years. Virginia Sen. L. Louise Lucas, who represents the district the plant is in, was there to support the workers, reported local CBS affiliate WTKR.
Sources: The Virginian-Pilot, WTKR