July 2, 2007 - A majority of press and production workers at Lehigh Press, a commercial printer in Pennsauken, New Jersey, recently voted for union representation by the Graphic Communications Conference (GCC) of the Teamsters Union. The workers will now be represented by GCC Local 14-M.
"We wanted better pay and benefits," said Steve Giovanetti, an employee in the finishing department. Giovanetti has worked for Lehigh Press for the past 20 years and has seen a lot of changes. "They have brought in temporary workers to do jobs that used to be full-time positions. Management is even refusing to follow their own handbook."
"Voting for the union was something that had to be done," said Bryan Gorham, a 21-year employee at Lehigh Press. "Managers were changing the hours of work and the conditions;no matter how much you said to the manager. When the company was bought by Kohlberg, Kravis, Roberts and Company, we fell for the 'give us a year' speech. Then, the changes started coming."
"In our first contract, we need to work toward improved wages, benefits and having a standard policy book," Gorham said. "I've been here 21 years and we have never been given a policy book. I think the only way to get a word in to this company is to have a union."
"This election was a success because the workers at the plant worked very hard," said Kurt Freeman, President of GCC Local 14-M. "Lehigh Press used to treat their employees with respect and dignity. But now that they have been bought by a large corporation, employees are being given the short end of the stick. They reached out to us and we gladly stepped up to help them."
Lehigh Press prints covers for textbooks used nationwide. There are 142 new GCC members in the Lehigh Press unit, who are press operators, pre-press workers, lithographers, shipping and receiving workers, maintenance workers and factory clerical workers.