The Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers of America (ACTWU) won a bitterly contested union-representation election in a small J. P. Stevens & Co. plant here today amid charges of sabotage, scare tactics and firings for union activity. The vote was 68 to 48, with five votes voided or challenged.
The 59 percent majority the ACTWU recorded here marks its second election victory against 11 losses since the union began its massive organizing campaign against Stevens 16 years ago.
The union has won two of its last three elections at Stevens, however, and has been named bargaining representative for workers at the site of the third. The ACTWU won its first election over the nation's second-largest textile company in 1974 in Roanoke Rapids, N.C.
The National Labor Relations Board reversed a 1975 union defeat in Wallace, N.C., ruling in August that the union would have won the election had it not been for the company's unfair labor practices. Stevens has been cited 20 times by the NLRB for unfair labor practices.
The ACTWU now holds bargaining rights for about 10 percent of the firm's 44,000 employes.
Paul Barrett, Stevens' director of public relations, said the vote here "disproves the union's allegation that a fair election is not possible at a J. P. Stevens plant."
But prounion workers here claim the company has harassed them and raised the specter of union violence to scare and confuse them. Several workers reported that Stevens brought a one-legged man into the plant the day before Thursday's election who told him his limb had been shot off during a Teamsters strike. He warned that a similar fate could befall anyone working at the Stevens' plant.
Stevens' executive vice president, Milton Southerland, acknowledged that a man who said his leg had been shot off came into the plant, but said he did not know what the man had said to the employes.
Southerland said the man came to observe Stevens' operation in High Point, and his presence had nothing to do with the election.
ACTWU organizer Evans Hamilton said one worker was accused of trying to blow up the plant after he told the organizer that events in the factory would "blow the reporters' minds" if they were revealed.
A leaflet put out by antiunion workers exhorted Stevens' employes to "rise above union crime and corruption," and displayed such undated newspaper headlines as "Goons Keep Strike Booming With Seven Blasts: Bomb Rips Roof Over Five Children."
The headline "Woman Strike Leader Held on Abusive Language Charge" was underscored with a hand-printed note: "People are a lot meaner now than they were then!"
Harold Rogers, a quality control technician at the plant, said he was fired on trumped-up charges because hw was active in the organizing campaign.
"Stevens can't scare me," Rogers proclaimed on a union poster bearing his photograph. "I'm still for the union."
Bruce Raynor, who directed the organizing campaign, said company executives and labor lawyers pressured two prounion workers on election day in an effort to provoke an incident.
"They got me in the office and tried to get me to blow my cool," said one worker. Organizers asked that the workers' names not be revealed for fear of retaliation.
The company charged that one machine was sabotaged the night before the election. Barrett said that a metallic washer was thrown into a carding machine, causing $4,000 damage. He said there were no suspects, but added that the washer could not have landed in the machine accidentally.