UAW plans Sunday meeting for Fuyao workers

Last week, Fuyao Glass America gave production workers a $2-an-hour raise, but United Auto Workers’ (UAW) supporters say that hasn’t derailed the union’s campaign to organize the Moraine plant and its 2,000 workers.

The union is planning a meeting with local elected officials and workers Sunday afternoon at a UAW local office on Alwildy Avenue in Dayton. The meeting is set for 2 p.m. at 1543 Alwildy Ave., home of UAW 696.

The UAW has a web site up devoted to its organizing campaign, FuyaoForward.com, and established online union authorization cards that Ken Lortz, a UAW regional director, says will pass National Labor Relations Board muster, enabling an eventual union representation election at the plant.

The campaign also has a Facebook page.

Lortz believes last week’s raises from the company are “evidence” that Fuyao leaders are concerned about the UAW campaign.

“I think that’s just real good evidence that the company knows our campaign is gaining momentum,” Lortz said Wednesday. “That’s one of the issues. Health and safety, work rules and economics are all issues that the workers have brought to us in this campaign.”

A glass cutter and union supporter at the plant, Miami Twp. resident DeAnn Wilson, doesn’t think the raises will slow the UAW’s efforts.

“We are very much pro-Fuyao,” Wilson said. “We all think that Fuyao is going to be a great place to work.”

But she maintains that there need to be workplace changes. She said there is worker discontent with schedule changes and pay, even after the recent raises.

“I know we’re getting closer” to a union election, Wilson said.

To schedule an election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board, unions must demonstrate support for an election petition from at least 30 percent of the plant’s employees.

In September 2015, the NLRB said workers may submit electronic signatures in support of a “showing of interest” in forming a union.

An electronic, web-based campaign may be effective with younger workers, said a professor with the City University of New York who studies labor issues.

“This is such a new approach that I don’t think anyone knows how effective it is, but my own hypothesis would be that it depends on the workers being targeted,” said the professor, Ruth Milkman. “Younger workers — the legendary Millennials especially — might be more easily reached this way, since they do just about everything online.”

“We’re getting real good response,” Lortz said. “The campaign is going very well. We still have more work to do. The company is running a very aggressive anti-union campaign, trying to stop our momentum.”

Lortz declined to say how many authorization signatures the UAW has collected and wouldn’t estimate when an election may be held. “But I can assure you we have many more signatures than the last time you and I talked,” he said.

A message seeking comment was sent to Fuyao spokespeople. Fuyao managers say they prefer to have a direct relationship with their employees.

Last week’s raises were offered after the company passed key quality audits with North American automaker customers such as General Motors, Honda and BMW.

Fuyao Global Chairman Cho Tak Wong bought a former General Motors plant in Moraine in 2014 to build what has become the world’s largest single-site auto glass production facility, with enough capacity to supply the glass for one in four cars on North American roads.

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