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The National Labor Relations Board in Buffalo is investigating unfair labor practice charges against Harsco Corp.'s Sherwood, Taylor-Wharton division in Lockport in the wake of an unsuccessful campaign by the United Auto Workers.

The NLRB has given the investigation of the UAW's charges priority, but no hearing date has been scheduled, said Assistant Regional Director Charles J. Donner.

Workers at the maker of brass valves and gas control equipment voted 231-160 against joining the UAW in August.

A total of 420 production and maintenance workers were eligible to vote at the company's plants in Lockport and Wheatfield, making the drive one of the largest union-organizing campaigns this year in Western New York.

After the vote, the union filed objections to the conduct of the election and unfair labor practice charges against the employer.

In an amended NLRB filing this week, the union charged that the company spyed on workers' union activities, interrogated employees about the union, implied benefits for rejecting the campaign and threatened closing the plant.

The company declined to comment. Kenneth O. Miller, general manager of Sherwood-Harsco, said the company policy was to refrain from commenting to protect employees' privacy.

UAW officials also refused to comment. The organizing campaign was handled by the union's national organization, officials said.

Under the National Labor Relations Act, employers are limited in the tactics they can use to dissuade workers from recognizing a union.

Harsco Corp. is a $1.7 billion maker of industrial equipment based in Camp Hill, Pa., with 15,000 employees worldwide. The company merged its Sherwood division with its Taylor-Wharton Gas Equipment division in 1996.

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