More than 500 of members of the United Auto Workers voted to stay out on strike at the battery production facility operated by Clarios outside Toledo, Ohio increasing pressure on supply chains critical to automakers and raising the stakes for both the company and the union.
Officials from the UAW and Local 12 presented the company’s most recent offer to end the two-week-old strike to Clarios employees during a meeting Monday morning, but the tentative agreement was voted down.
This is just the latest in several showdowns between the union and suppliers, where the UAW’s membership has taken a much tougher stance in contract negotiations.
Overtime is key issue
Two critical issues that emerged during the dispute work days and overtime. Clarios calls for its hourly employees to work 12-hour shift without overtime. Employees want overtime for any time worked beyond a regular eight-hour shift.
The Toledo plant produces conventional 12-volt batteries used by automakers as well as manufacturers of other vehicles. The batteries are also sold on the aftermarket under a variety of different brand names.
Clarios, which earlier this month used Ohio law to obtain an injunction to keep pickets from blocking entrances to the plant, said it planned to continue finish products from the plant to Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, using supervisors and management personnel, raising tensions on the picket line.
The rising tensions also pose a challenge for Shawn Fain, the UAW’s new president, who promised to take a more militant approach in negotiations with employers such as Clarios.
Spun off by former owner Johnson Controls a decade ago, the company has benefitted from a wave of contract concessions according to members of Local 12.
Unrest spreads among suppliers
Last week, the UAW called a strike by workers at Constellium Automotive in suburban Detroit, claiming the company had refused to bargain in good faith issues related to working conditions.
Negotiations at the plant in Van Buren Detroit were scheduled to resume this week.
The plant supplies parts for the Ford F-150, F-150 Lightning, Explorer, and Super Duty at six UAW-represented Ford Assembly plants, according to the UAW, which said workers are members of UAW Local 174. They are seeking to address health and safety issues, along with unfair discipline from management.
Meanwhile, workers at Webasto Roof Systems in Plymouth, Michigan voted to join UAW Local 3000.
The workers, who make convertible tops for the Mustang, Jeep, Bronco, and Corvette, launched their organizing drive in November, and faced an intense anti-union campaign from management, according to the union.
Laura Dickerson, UAW Region 1A director, noted “Over and over, we’re seeing workers across the auto supply chain come together in a common cause for justice on the job.”
The sentiment was echoed by Webasto employees.
“We’re doing this for our coworkers,” said Sheron Johnson, a production worker at Webasto. “People have been mistreated, not getting paid, having their schedules changed with no notice. We want to leave this place better for the next generation.”
Gustavo Vasquez has worked at Webasto for 17 years. “We used to have our voices heard at Webasto, that’s all we want,” Vasquez said. “To be treated as an asset to the company and not just a number.”