Golden Frinks, a civil rights leader who worked with Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1960s, urged black employees of the Tultex Corp. to vote against union representation next week.
Frinks, estimating that more than half of the Tultex hourly employees are black, told an anti-union meeting Monday night they'd better keep what they've got, because money would be taken out of town if a union was organized. Frinks lives in Eden, N.C.A group of Tultex Employees Against the Union planned how they will oppose the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union in a National Labors Relations Board election Sept. 19-20. Almost 3,000 Martinsville and Henry County employees will be eligible to vote.
Frinks, who calls himself a crisis coordinator, said the union is using Jesse Jackson's name ``as a prop.' A union letter says Jackson will be at the side of employees when they negotiate, but that's a lie because Jackson doesn't work for Tultex, Frinks said.
Frinks said he opposes the union at this time, ``with the economy flirting around and ... black employees holding marginal jobs.' If the union should win, he said, it may force the company to cut back to be competitive. The speaker said Tultex is community-oriented but that message is not getting out.
Eugene Grant, an anti-union leader, said the company is ``doing a good job by keeping us working with no major layoffs. If the union came in, it would cause things to go flat bad.'
The textile workers have lost three elections at Tultex, the last one a year ago by 250 votes.
In the past year, a NLRB hearing officer overruled union objections to the company's handling of the 1989 campaign but he recommended that another election be held.
Campaigning this year has been on a lower key than in 1989 when both sides waged an expensive and intensive program to get out employee votes.