UAW wants to organize Fuyao, local president says

United Auto Workers organizers are in town in a bid to organize the workforce at Fuyao Auto Glass, Brian Martin, president of UAW Local 696, said Thursday.

“We need a living wage, and we need benefits that support families, not just support companies,” he said.

Martin said the organizers are using the 696 union hall on Alwildy Avenue. He was not sure if the organizers were from regional or national UAW offices.

“My role in this is, we’re providing the Local 696 union hall, and they’re working out of there,” Martin said.

He made the remarks after a small group of picketers were spotted picketing the Fuyao plant off West Stroop Road in Moraine Thursday morning.

A spokesman with a UAW office in Detroit said Thursday he may have a written response later.

Martin said “a lot of people from Fuyao have expressed that they would like to be a part of the UAW.” He couldn’t say how many people have contacted his local unit.

Fuyao Glass, China’s largest auto glass manufacturer, bought 1.4 million square feet of a shuttered General Motors assembly plant in 2014 for $15 million.

Since then, the company has begun building what it says will be the world’s largest single-site auto glass production plant at the site, employing about 1,500 workers today. Company leaders have said up to 2,000 workers may work at the plant when it reaches full capacity, double the number of GM workers who worked there when GM closed the plant in December 2008.

Hosting U.S. Rep Mike Turner last week, Fuyao Glass America President John Gauthier said the plant is supplying Hyundai in Alabama and General Motors in both Michigan and Indiana.

The plant is sending “several thousand parts” to each of those plants every week, Gauthier said last week.

Dave Burrows, vice president, facilities for Fuyao Glass America, said representatives of various unions are near the plant on an almost daily basis, usually handing out flyers to people who will take them. “It comes from every direction, and it’s almost every day.”

‘They have a business to run,” Burrows said. “It (running a union) is a business. And more power to them. It’s a free country.”

Fuyao offers workers health insurance, coverage for dental, vision, 401K with a company match and a bonus program that started in January, paid when workers meet job criteria on the line, he said.

The amount of the incentive varies, he said, “But we’re not talking $20, $30, we’re talking $100-plus or higher, in multiples,” he said.

“It’s the same for John Gauthier (Fuyao Glass America president) as it is for anybody else in the building,” Burrows said of the benefits offered employees. “There is no separation.”

He said from the company’s perspective, “We’re doing a great thing.”

“We have invested $450 million into Moraine, Ohio,” he said.

Last year, the company said it offered a starting wage of $12.80 an hour at the very minimum, depending on the position, a wage that often rose after 90 days.

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