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Workers at the newly-privatized water company for Laredo, United Water, Inc., voted yesterday for union representation with the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) in a government supervised secret ballot election, seeking to improve conditions on the job.
The vote count in the election, which was overseen by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board, was 68 for the USWA, 54 against.
USWA Organizer Dionisio Gonzales said, "Workers at the water company were able to overcome a tough anti-union campaign by management and win their right to form a union. These workers were prepared for the campaign, and had a very strong organizing committee."
Humberto Tamez, a heavy equipment operator at United Water and organizing committee member, said conditions on the job "were not working out the way management promised us, so we decided if we want to do better we needed a union to represent us."
Tamez said management held long meetings with workers this week to try to persuade them to oppose the Steelworkers, but that a majority of still held strong for the union.
Enrique Medrano, president of USWA Local 9483 representing more than 350 Laredo city workers, said "This union victory is great news for working men and women in Laredo. We're determined to help worker win a decent level of pay and benefits, and fair treatment on the job."