The United Auto Workers union is making a bid to organize more than 1,400 workers at an automotive glass plant owned by Chinese investors who refurbished part of a former General Motors assembly plant in the Dayton, OH, suburb of Moraine.
The petition for a representation election filed with the National Labor Relations Board cites what union lawyers describe as a pattern of unsafe workplace conditions, arbitrary policies and unfair and unequal treatment of employees at the Fuyao Glass America plant. The NLRB is expected to set a date shortly.
Fuyao has not responded to telephone messages or emails seeking comment on the UAW's petition to represent hourly workers.
“I’ve been at the plant for two years, and I feel like I’m not going anywhere. It’s as if they put me in one place, and that’s not acceptable to me,” Fuyao employee Teodore Searcy says during a conference call organized by the UAW.
“When I heard about the tax breaks Fuyao received for opening this plant, I thought that would be great for the community, and I wanted to be part of that,” says Searcy, who works the third shift in the Tempering OEM Dept. and is a member of Fuyao Workers Forward, a pro-UAW group of employees.
“Now my concern is that this company can’t help the community if it can’t help its workers and that jeopardizes me, my family and everyone who is depending on Fuyao to be a good citizen,” he says. “But there are a lot of turnover and safety issues. What it comes down to is constantly changing rules and policies.”
Jeremy Grant, another pro-union worker employed at the Moraine plant, says, “During the orientation, the Chinese told us they didn’t want a union.” But as time has gone by, pro-union sentiment has grown steadily, and people in the plant are looking forward to a vote, he says.
“It has been hard because we are all working so hard for the company,” Grant says. “In return, we come to work facing constantly changing rules, communication barriers with our supervisors and no way to be heard about changes that will help us all win.”
Jill Lamantia, another pro-union worker, says it’s difficult to find a job elsewhere and she wants Fuyao to be noted for the quality of its products. At the same time, Moraine employees need more protection, stability and security, she says.
Workers’ pay starts as low as $12.88 an hour. There is no written wage scale or scheduled raises. The company does offer health insurance.
UAW Early Ally of Workers
The UAW has had a presence around the plant almost since it opened in 2015, helping workers file complaints about job safety with the Occupational Health and Safety Admin. that resulted in $226,000 in fines against Fuyao in late 2016.
In a statement issued after the fines were levied, the UAW said: “The fact that OSHA would announce over $226,000 in fines after eight safety inspections for things like personal protective gear, machine hazards and electrical and chemical exposures is a rare and serious situation.
“Fuyao’s blatant disregard for the health and safety of workers cannot go unchecked. The UAW will continue to support the workers who brought these issues to the attention of OSHA.”
Fuyao acquired the GM property in 2014 and opened its first manufacturing plants in the U.S. the following year as it began to expand its presence in the North American market.
Read the complete article at Ward's Auto, a sister publication of IndustryWeek.