UPDATE: Union vote set for Fuyao Glass America workers

Representatives of Fuyao Glass America and the United Auto Workers came to agreement on the details of an upcoming vote on whether to accept union representation at Fuyao’s Moraine plant.

The vote will be 8 p.m. to midnight Nov. 8. Then on Nov. 9, voting will resume 6 a.m.-10 a.m., followed by another round of voting at 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., with all voting sessions at the plant.

The vote will be at the plant’s central breakroom, said Matthew Denholm, assistant regional director at the National Labor Relations Board’s Cincinnati office.

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He estimated that a vote tally may be announced by perhaps 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9.

“We consider it a public event,” Denholm said.

Denholm said early Wednesday he expected the NLRB to formally approve the agreement between Fuyao and the UAW by Wednesday afternoon.

Denholm said that while there have been disagreements between the company and the union, so far the two sides have been able to work together.

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Workers at Fuyao filed a petition for the NLRB-sanctioned election Oct. 16. That’s just 23 days before the vote is scheduled to begin, Denholm noted.

“I think maybe the election process itself will go smoothly,” he said.

Each side will have election observers, and Fuyao’s side is expected to have “non-supervisory” observers, Denholm said. An NLRB staffer will count ballots and announce the results to both sides, he said.

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Both union and company will have an opportunity to challenge aspects of the voting they find troubling, he added.

Ballots will be printed in both English and Mandarin Chinese, he said. Fuyao, a Chinese-owned company, has some Chinese workers who are eligible voters and would be part of a bargaining unit if one is formed, he said.

He expects about 1,500 to 1,600 Fuyao workers will be eligible to cast ballots over the two-day vote. Fuyao Glass America has bout 2,000 workers total, and the company says it’s the biggest automobile glass factory in the world.

Basically, there are three possible results, according to the NLRB: A union-represented bargaining unit is approved or rejected — or challenges in the case of a close vote tally can lengthen the process.

The UAW planned a rally outside plant gates Wednesday afternoon to mark the upcoming vote. Union supporters say Fuyao policies are harsh or unfair and often the plant is unsafe.

But company leaders say that, while they prefer a direct relationship with their workers, the decision on whether to join a union is up to them.

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Some workers have said the company’s management and disciplinary policies are arbitrary and unpredictable while other workers have pointed to what they say are safety problems at the plant.

But company managers say the plant is only now starting to become profitable and they prefer a “direct” relationship with workers.

Fuyao has about 2,000 workers at the the West Stroop Road plant, which the company says is the world’s largest automotive glass production operation.

In its signatures campaign, the UAW said in recent months it has brought forward workers who speak of workplace safety violations, ever-changing policies, difficulty communicating with Chinese managers and other problems.

“They’re not being paid a living wage right now,” said Rich Rankin, director of the UAW region that includes the plant in Moraine.

In an “open letter” released this week, 15 Republican lawmakers said in part:“Unfortunately, we understand that there are outside forces trying to come into Fuyao. We are confident in Fuyao’s leadership in being able to work out all issues with you internally and quickly. This choice is up to you as employees to make. As those who represent you every day and fight for you, we urge you to reject these outside forces.”

“We will stand with you and Fuyao as the company continues to grow and develop,” the letter adds. “Please do not hesitate to reach out to us.”

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The letter appears over the signatures of Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miami Twp., state Sen. Peggy Lehner, R-Kettering, state Sen. Bill Beagle, R-Tipp City, Rep. Bill Dean, R-Xenia, and 11 other members of the Ohio House of Representatives and Senate.

But an earlier letter from Democrats and union supporters, dated Oct. 16, was sent to Jeff Liu, president of Fuyao Glass America.

“We believe that Fuyao has an obligation to pay fair wages, ensure a safe workplace, comply with all applicable laws, and respect workers’ right to form a union and collectively bargain, if that is what they choose,” said that letter, signed by state Rep. and Ohio House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn and 31 others, including Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland.

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“We stand with the workers at Fuyao Glass, and are prepared to stand with them every step of the way as they join together to make positive changes at the plant,” that letter added.

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