JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) -- A few dozen workers and supporters rallied Tuesday near a Jeffersonville warehouse to protest a plan to fire the warehouse’s 257 employees, most of whom are represented by a union.
Tri-Starr Management Services, Inc. operates the Legacy Supply Chain Services warehouse at 1251 Port Road, which ships parts for Louisville-based manufacturer GE Appliances.
Tri-Starr plans to fire all 257 warehouse workers in March, when the warehouse will be taken over by Dart Logistics, a different GE Appliances contractor.
Workers called on the companies to “save our jobs” during Tuesday's rally.
But the decision to shift from Tri-Starr to Dart is final, GE Appliances spokeswoman Julie Wood said Tuesday.
“We made the strategic decision to move from three service providers to one to simplify operations and better serve customers," Wood said last week when the change was first disclosed. “Dart Logistics has been selected as the new provider and will handle the staffing and managing of the facility as of March 9. The Jeffersonville warehouse is not closing.”
Workers have been told they are free to re-apply for jobs at the warehouse.
Jammie Willen, president of IUE-CWA Local 84807, which represents more than 200 of the Jeffersonville workers, said it’s possible that Dart will have to recognize the same bargaining unit currently in place at the warehouse.
That would be required if Dart were to rehire a majority of the Tri-Starr/Legacy workers, said David Suetholz, a Louisville attorney who often represents labor unions. And when considering whom to hire, Dart is prohibited from discriminating against the union workers, Suetholz said.
“Who is the most the qualified person in that warehouse? Someone who is working there now,” said Suetholz, who is not involved in the Jeffersonville dispute. “If the employer is trying to avoid the union, they will be violating federal law.”
Dart did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Willen called on Dart to start negotiating a contract with the local union.
“They need to step to the plate and get with the local union and agree come to the table. Let’s bargain this. We can bargain something that’s fair for the company and fair for the employees and the members … We are reasonable people,” he said.
The workers currently earn $14 to $18 an hour and fear losing their bargained health insurance benefits and vacation accruals, Willen said.
Note: This story has been corrected to remove potentially unclear attribution of a quotation.