By  on December 6, 1994

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. -- Members of the United Textile Workers of America (UTWA) began going back to work Monday at employee-owned North American Rayon Corp. after a strike of nearly two months.

Union International President Ron Myslowka ordered the strikers back to work last Thursday, using provisions in the union bylaws. The local had voted Nov. 29 -- and twice earlier -- to continue the strike. UTWA and NAR officials met last Friday to iron out how the workers would return.

An NAR spokesman said 65 union employees were recalled on Friday, and are expected to begin returning to work this week, based on department seniority. Campbell said other union members are expected to be brought back during the first quarter of 1995, but he cautioned that the firm does not plan to return to the pre-strike employment of 1,500. Instead, he said 1,000 was a more plausible number.

The company had planned to downsize by attrition prior to the strike. As of Dec. 1, the end of the strike, Campbell said NAR employment was at 900, so there is little room for many of the striking workers. Of those 900, Campbell said 750 were hourly employees with 450 being permanent replacements and 300 union members that crossed the picket line; 150 were salaried management employees. Campbell says the company plans to stand behind its permanent replacements.

According to the union count, 1,150 workers originally went on strike. UTWA Local President Gene Tipton was more optimistic about the number of strikers returning to work, saying he expects all union members to be back at work by March. Tipton said the delay was because it takes awhile to return some of NAR's machinery to production.

The union is working under protest and says it plans to pursue its grievances with the National Labor Relations Board and in court. UTWA maintains that the company failed to negotiate in good faith.  -- Fairchild News Service

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