On a day when a new flag was raised at the Faurecia plant, United Auto Workers members picketed in front of the automotive components plant to protest what they called unfair work rules.
On Tuesday, during each of its three shifts, Faurecia provided a special lunch to its 2,000 Saline-based employees in an effort to help workers get to know each other, a company official said. But while the informal event was designed to help Saline employees take “greater pride in the Faurecia flag flying over the plant,” UAW workers marched to protest “unfair work rules” and to demand the company stop “union busting.”
President Mark Caruso said he has received an "overwhelming" amount of phone calls from workers who have issues since
"These issues are falling on deaf ears, so we're giving the membership the opportunity to come out here in a peaceful forum and do an informational rally so that the company is aware of the issues going on in their own plant," Caruso said.
The union alleges workers are frustrated with unfair work rules, unfair hiring practice, supervisor harassment, inappropriate dress code rules and more.
A Faurecia spokesperson said there have been challenges with the transition since the company began operations in June.
“In any organization, a change in ownership or corporate culture can be a challenge,” said Stacie Tong, director of communications for Faurecia North America. “While some of the policies and procedures may be different from those of the past, we are confident that our implementation of the Faurecia Excellence System and a number of facility upgrades will generate a more welcoming environment for all of Faurecia’s associates at the plant and contribute to continuous improvement in safety, quality and delivery.”
Tong said as new methods are implemented, the company expects workers to continue to improve attendance, performance and teamwork.
While the company respects employees’ right to picket, Tong said, “we also expect them to respect their work schedules."
Caruso said it was an informational picket done by workers on their own time.
“They’re out here marching on the hottest day the year on their own time. That should tell you something about how serious they are about being heard,” Caruso said.
Union members are not happy about Faurecia's "work rules." Caruso said when the company did not accommodate the union’s request that workers be provided with new work rules.
"When you're voting about whether or not you're going to stay on, you should have work rules, because work rules are a condition of employment," Caruso said.
One issue is Faurecia's requirement that workers wear white shirts. The requirement has angered some women, he said, who are wearing two shirts so that their brassieres don't show through the white shirt.
"You shouldn't need to wear two shirts. It's over 100 degrees in that factory," Caruso said.
A company spokesperson said the Faurecia employees around the world wear white shirts.
Workers have also complained they are being forced to work 12-hour days and seven-days a week or face penalty. The issues have boiled over this summer, workers say, because the temperature climbs past 100 degrees, there is no ice in break rules, and open containers are not permitted on the lines.
The Michigan Avenue facility has been been through many transitions in recent years—from Ford to Visteon to Automotive Components Holdings. Caruso said this has been the toughest on workers.
"The last five years have been tough on workers here. But these last few weeks have been really difficult," Caruso said.
Workers who voted to stay on at Faurecia accepted wage and benefit cuts. Employment at the Saline facilty is expected to fall to below 1,200 as Faurecia reorganizes operations. Some of the work currently done in Saline will be done by Detroit Manufacturing Systems, a joint venture between Faurecia and Rush Trucking. The transition is expected to take three years.