MAGNOLIA, AR (KSLA) - United Steelworkers Local 607L have accepted a contract that will keep the plant open with a new investor.
Earlier this year, the labor union representing workers at Zodiac Aerospace, better known as the Amfuel plant in Magnolia, Arkansas, voted against a contract where hourly workers would have had a $1.80 pay cut that offered a 7.5 percent profit sharing plan and a $1,000 signing bonus as incentives.
The union only represents about a third of the workers there, but workers were told following the rejection of the last contract, that the company would close by the end of the year, leaving all of them without a job.
About 300 in all are employed at the plant.
Since the first vote, a group known as "Amfuel Advocates" has formed with the goal of discrediting the union, according to a spokesperson. The group started a petition and has plans to meet later this week despite the approval of the new contract.
The company had initially declined the union's request for another vote on the contract, but ultimately allowed it after the private investor agreed to to it.
Monday evening, Amfuel Advocates told KSLA News 12 that the union voted to accept the contract. While details of the new contract have not been released, advocates say the pay cut isn't as much as the first contract offered and they'll still be getting incentives as well as the profit sharing plan, but they will not be getting a signing bonus.
Advocates say they still want to the union out, but with the recent contract approved, that may prove to be more difficult.
According to the National Labor Relations Board, at least 30 percent of the company's hourly workers must a petition asking the NLRB to conduct a vote to de-certify a union.
Unless a majority of the votes cast in the election are in favor of union representation, the union will be decertified. However, the board states that if the union and employer reach a collective-bargaining agreement, workers cannot ask for a de-certification election during the first three years of that agreement, except during a 30-day "window period."
The period begins 90 days and ends 60 days before the agreement expires.
With the latest vote, Amfuel Advocates say this gives them a chance to move forward on a temporary basis.
Zodiac Aero Elastomer America (ZAEA) was originally founded by the Firestone Company in the mid-1940s, and moved to Magnolia, Arkansas in 1968. It was purchased by Zodiac Aerospace in 1995.
The company designs and manufactures composite elastomer material products for the aerospace industry, aviation, military ground forces, and commercial transport industries in the US.
Amfuel Advocates is still planning to hold a meeting on Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. at East Side Park to get more signatures on the petition in attempts to decertify the union.
KSLA News 12 has made calls to Union President Talmadge Watson but so far, our calls have not been returned. We've also reached out to Zodiac Aerospace who has failed to reply to our emails.