Unions allege harassment at Luxottica plant in McDonough

Workers at the 2,000-person Luxottica factory in McDonough have been subjected to an “aggressive, fear-inducing campaign” aimed at preventing them from organizing for collective bargaining, according to a complaint filed Thursday with an organization that represents democracies committed to market economies.

Several unions — the Communications Workers of America, the AFL-CIO and two global — have accused the management of the factory of violating guidelines of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The labor groups are asking OECD officials to mediate the dispute.

The McDonough factory is part of the North American unit of the EssilorLuxottica group, which makes and sells vision care and eyewear products and has more than 150,000 employees around the world. The company has management in France and Italy.

In a statement Thursday, the company said it has complied with U.S. labor laws and is utilizing “common practice for U.S. companies whose employees expect to be informed and educated on topics that directly affect them.”

The unions say the company used an app called “LiveSafe” to send anti-union “broadsides” while also “vilifying” organized labor on company-created websites. Those messages warned that workers might lose pay and benefits if they formed a union or even began an organizing campaign.

Unions have been in touch with workers, but do not have an organizing campaign at the plant — at least not yet, said CWA spokeswoman Beth Allen.

In a statement distributed by the groups that filed the complaint, worker Lisa Ragsdale said she and other employees are interested in forming a union so they have “a voice on the job.”

“We are coming together to fight for respect, safe working conditions and fair wages,” the statement said.

The company says it’s not anti-union.

“We maintain strong and productive relationships with unions globally, wherever our employees choose to be represented by them,” a company statement said. “In Atlanta, our employees overwhelmingly voted in favor of a direct relationship with us instead of union representation less than three years ago.”

The OECD is a 38-nation consortium that includes the United States. While the organization does not have enforcement authority, it helps to set international standards for social, economic and environmental policies.

The complaint is being filed with the OECD because Luxottica’s parent company has a good working relationship with its European workforce, which is largely unionized, said CWA spokeswoman Beth Allen.

Workers at the Luxottica plant have asked the CWA for “support and advice,” she said. “It can take a while for workers to feel comfortable sharing their concerns publicly, especially in the face of a long-term intimidation campaign like the one Luxottica has been running.”