There have been several attempts to unionize employees at Knoll International’s Upper Hanover manufacturing plant over the past few decades, and another one will be made next Wednesday. Knoll is one of the largest employers in the area, employing more than 750 workers locally.
According to a handout distributed to employees, the Metropolitan Regional Council of Carpenters, a branch of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America, and Knoll Int. have come to a stipulated election agreement that on May 23, the National Labor Relations Board will conduct a secret ballot election from 5:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the company’s fabrication building cafeteria on Water Street.
The Carpenters Union currently represents Knoll employees at their Michigan facility and has set up a page on their website, www.philacarpenter.org, titled “Website Wednesday” where Knoll employees can get answers to questions called or emailed to the union. Answers to the most frequently asked, anonymous questions are posted each Wednesday.
According to Joe McTeague of the Carpenters Union, there will be a “Workers Only” question-and-answer meeting for Knoll employees this Sunday at 12:30 p.m. in the Red Hill firehouse, 82 E. Fifth Street in Red Hill.
Knoll spokesperson Davie Bright said of the 750 local employees, about 410 production workers are affected by the upcoming vote to organize.
Bright added that, “We believe very strongly that the company and our associates have a good future together without a union.”
Knoll International is a publically owned company that began in the mid-1940’s. Originally founded as Knoll Associates by Hans and Florence Knoll, they came to the Upper Perkiomen Valley from New York City in the late 1940’s after purchasing the Pennsburg Planing Plant. Their goal was to establish a base for manufacturing furniture.
In the early 1950’s, Knoll Associates purchased the former Eisenlohr cigar factory on Fourth Street in East Greenville and moved the operation there. In the 1960’s the company built a new facility in Upper Hanover Township for its manufacturing operation but still maintains a smaller design facility in East Greenville.
On April 23 Knoll announced the result for the first quarter of 2012. According to a press release, their net sales were $196.7 million for the period ending March 31, 2012. That represented a decrease of 11 percent from first quarter of 2011. Operating profit for the quarter was $15.5 million, a decrease of 25.8 percent when compared with $20.9 million in the first quarter of 2011. Net income for the first quarter of 2012 was $7.3 million which represented a decrease of 20.7 percent when compared with the first quarter of 2011.
Earnings per share were $0.15 for the quarter compared to $0.20 per share in the prior year. During the first quarter of 2012 non-cash charges relating to unrealized foreign exchange losses and the write off of deferred financing fees decreased earnings approximately $0.03 per share.