Employees at Fuyao Glass America voted by a resounding margin Thursday against joining the United Auto Workers, defeating the union’s more than 18-month attempt to organize one of the Dayton area’s fastest growing manufacturers, in a fight that drew the international spotlight.
The final tally was 886 to 441, according to the National Labor Relations Board, which oversaw the election.
The UAW offered a slightly different tally, but the same outcome: 868 votes against forming a UAW-represented collective bargaining unit, and 444 votes for the union.
There were 1,608 eligible voters at Fuyao, according to Matthew Denholm, assistant regional director for the NLRB in Cincinnati.
Three ballots were void and 186 were challenged.
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“The union did not receive a majority,” Denholm said.
The NLRB election process gives the UAW a week to challenge the outcome of the election.
In a statement, the union said workers “reported irregularities during the election which the UAW is investigating, and it may file objections” with the NLRB.
Fuyao is Ohio’s largest Chinese-owned manufacturing operation, anchored in the shell of a former General Motors plant, and the company itself is just over three years old. The Moraine plant makes automotive and safety glass, with the capacity to make glass sets for one of every four vehicles on North American roads.
“We are pleased that (Fuyao) associates chose to maintain a direct relationship with our company and resist the union’s attempt to intervene,” Fuyao President Jeff Daochuan Liu said in a statement. “While we respect our employees’ right to support or reject a union, we also admire their courage to reject this union’s desperate attempt to prop up its revenue in the face of declining union membership worldwide.
“We look forward to continuing to work closely with (Fuyao) associates to build a great company here in Moraine and to our success in the auto glass marketplace,” Liu added.
For well over a year, organizers for the UAW have worked to get a foothold at the West Stroop plant.
“It is disheartening to know that in 2017 there are companies willing to do so much to deny workers a voice and fair treatment,” Rich Rankin, director UAW Region 2B said in a statement. “Unfortunately, that is what these brave workers faced when all they have asked for is a fair path to helping this manufacturer produce the best products and live up to their commitments it made to the Dayton community.”
Fuyao worker Jeremy Grant, a UAW supporter, said he was surprised by the approximately 2-to-1 margain against the union.
“It was fairly shocking,” Grant said. “We were really confident.”
“I thought that the UAW and Fuyao workers could come together and make for a better company,” he added.
Fuyao workers applied to the NLRB for an election last month.
The union hoped to stem a decades long-decline in membership, down to about 416,000 members nationally today, well under a height of about 1.5 million in 1979.
The UAW lost a recognition vote at a Volkswagen plant in Tennessee three years ago and lost again at a Nissan plant in Canton Miss. in August.
Still, between 2010 and 2016 in NLRB-sanctioned employer-UAW elections, management won 44 elections and the UAW won 43 elections, according to Kristin Dziczek, director of the Labor and Industry Group at the Ann Arbor-based Center for Automotive Research.
“They win as many as they lose,” Dziczek told this news outlet recently. “That’s been the case for quite some time.”
Joe Allen, a historian and writer on labor issues, said in an interview before results were announced that a UAW loss in Moraine could be seen as “devastating” for the union.
“When the UAW can’t organize an auto parts plant in Ohio … then what does the future hold for an auto union?” Allen said.
The election has drawn national and international attention. The New York Times ran a story Wednesday exploring the company and its founder, Cho Tak Wong, who is also called Cao DeWang.
“To be brutally honest, up to this moment, my investment in the U.S. has brought no good to Fuyao,“ the Times quoted Cho as saying, apparently based on an interview with him in May.