Striking union workers at a plant in South Baltimore yesterday voted to end their walkout and not to stage another for at least three years in the face of threats by the Japanese-owned company to close down.
By a 2-to-1 vote the workers at Locke Insulators agreed to accept a settlement for a three-year contract in which the union members gave up the right to strike for the duration of the contract and agreed to higher production standards. The company had threatened to close the plant if it could not get concessions.
The contract negotiations had involved a clash of corporate cultures. The Japanese owners of the firm want to develop a "family" work atmosphere that emphasizes harmony between workers and managers, while many workers say that some Japanese concepts undermine unions.
About 400 workers went on strike at the electrical factory on Tuesday, when the last contract expired.
The union committee had recommended acceptance of the company's terms and returning to work, said John Landis, a shop steward and a member of the negotiating committee of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers union.
"We felt strongly about giving up that right to strike ," but the company was very firm on the issue, Landis said.
"It is now more or less a position of trust that the company won't use it the no-strike clause to rub our faces in the dirt," he added.
Masaharu (Mike) Shibata, chairman and chief executive officer of Locke, said "we are very happy" about yesterday's vote and that he believes the contract will be in the best interests of both the company and the workers.
Locke produces giant electrical insulators that are used for high-voltage power generation.