May 4, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Fort Smith, AR – Exide Technologies in Fort Smith, a leading supplier of batteries for the U.S. Navy, locked out more than 200 workers at its Fort Smith plant Apr. 24 after they “overwhelmingly rejected the company’s final offer,” International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 700 said.
Management told the union they would lock out workers at 9:30 that night, and when the third shift showed up at 11:30, the gates were closed. “We want fair health benefits. Not only for us, but for our families. We work in a lead-contaminated area. Not only lead, but cadmium, arsenic, sodium hydrate, just to touch the tip of the iceberg,” maintenance technician Karl Thornell told KFSM-TV on the picket line Apr. 25. Local 700 said in a statement that the final offer would have “a substantial negative impact on Exide employees’ and families’ livelihood” and that the workers “have conceded to reasonable company needs to make them more flexible, but the company continued to use hard negotiating tactics.” Exide management told several media outlets that it would not be able to comment while negotiations were going on. Read more