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Maine Mill Workers Vote To Oust Union After Strike

A VOTE to oust two unions whose unsuccessful strike divided this mill town five years ago was cheered by replacement workers who took the strikers' jobs.

"Hallelujah. We beat 'em," Dave Gilchrist said after the results were announced Friday. "I feel elated. I feel great."

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In the two-day balloting, 616 International Paper Company workers voted to scrap union representation while 361 voted to retain collective bargaining.

Another 94 ballots were challenged - not enough to make a difference in the final decision. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)spokesman Joe Kane said he didn't know the reason for the challenges.

Four NLRB officials supervised the election, in which workers voted to decertify United Paperworkers International Union Local 14 and Local 246 of the International Brotherhood of Firemen and Oilers.

In 1987, workers launched an unsuccessful strike at the Androscoggin Mill that lasted 16 months and tore at the social fabric of the small town dominated by the papermaking plant.

Most of those who voted this week were replacement workers who took over the jobs of strikers.

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