Union vs. Non-union

Good news came to Jacksonville last year when two companies announced in one week that they would move their operations and 1,350 jobs here from Northern cities.

Economic development officials and chamber of commerce people praised Kaman Aerospace Corp. and C.F. Gomma USA for selecting Jacksonville.

Company officials responded with praises for the city and all it has to offer, such as great port facilities.

What no one talked about was the 275 workers put out of work at the C.F. Gomma plant in Indiana and how much the company would save with non-union labor.

Kaman’s Connecticut workers were non union. But C.F. Gomma, the unionized maker of vehicle brake hoses, has declined to comment on the union issue.

C.F. Gomma said the move would initially create 250 new jobs, 125 of those assembly positions paying $6.50 an hour and benefits.

At the Gomma plant in Columbia City, Ind., members of the United Auto Workers started at $8.50 an hour and earned up to $15 an hour.

The pay difference raised the question if such companies are coming to Jacksonville because of the moderate union presence. Some unions are hurting, some are thriving. Overall, numbers are dwindling.

The region’s umbrella organization for labor unions has lost one-fourth of its members during the last five years.