Workers at the Faurecia factory in Saline, Michigan completed voting Thursday on a sellout agreement negotiated by the UAW. The contract settlement followed a walkout last Friday by 1,900 Faurecia workers, which the UAW shut down after just 9 hours.
According to preliminary reports released by UAW Local 892, the contract passed by a substantial margin, with 83 percent of production workers and 93 percent of skilled trades workers voting in favor. The vote, if the union figures are accurate and there is no guarantee they are, does not reflect any show of confidence in the UAW. On the contrary, many workers said they were sure the union would not come back with anything better if the deal were rejected.
To obtain ratification of the contact, the UAW offered workers a $2,500 signing bonus, payable in two installments. A number of workers ironically noted that by splitting up the bonus payments the UAW was providing management a further incentive to fire workers to keep them from getting the bonus. Indeed, workers reported to the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter that management has increased its firings and victimizations in the immediate aftermath of the strike.
The vote was rammed through without giving workers more than a day to study and discuss the deal. In a Facebook post Wednesday, UAW Local 892 criticized workers for posting critical comments, including from the WSWS, on Facebook, writing, “This is a Great Agreement…Don’t let a Facebook comment or post destroy your future.” The union also made clear it would not support any of the workers’ demands which cut into the profits of the corporation, saying, “Our EXPECTATIONS must be Reasonable. Your Bargaining Team will NOT Bargain us Out of Business [!!] because that Benefits NOBODY!”
The ratification efforts by the UAW were aided by the local news media, that ran reports touting the “significant” wage increases contained in the new agreement. The hype notwithstanding, the deal will still leave Faurecia workers far behind a living wage and well behind workers at the major Detroit automakers.
Faurecia, a French-based global auto parts supplier, manufactures control panels and other components for major automakers including Ford and Tesla. A walkout lasting more than a few hours threatened to shut down production of Ford’s top selling F-150 pickup truck and other assembly lines. For that reason the UAW was determined to squelch the strike lest it impact the profits of the car companies.
Workers contacted by the World Socialist Web Site Autoworker Newsletter said the contract failed to address major issues and concerns. Several workers complained about having to use vacation days during the summer plant shutdown. Another complained that the new health insurance plan did not include his specialist doctors.
Dan said, "It takes 11 years to top out. They want to get the older, higher-paid workers out of here and now they are saying there are going to be temps brought in from January to April.
"We pay two-and-a-half hours of our wages once a month to the UAW. They say the half hour is for the strike fund—but we're not seeing any of it. The UAW International is sitting on an $800 million fund that they use for themselves.
"Almost none of the workers on the Tesla line—one of the busiest—is even getting 40 hours a week.
"The company pays the union. The UAW is not a union. It's paid for by Faurecia."
Maggie, a young Faurecia worker said, “We had no information when they called off the strike.”
She said that the fact that there was no change in the hated point system where workers can be fired for missing work or being late was a big issue. As a consequence, there is a high turnover rate at the plant.
Any time a worker calls off they get a point added to their record. The company only allows eight such occurrences before termination. She also noted that the contract had not restored their Blue Cross Blue Shield healthcare coverage that had been unilaterally terminated following the ratification of the last contract.
The brutal work regime in the plant is also a major point. “We have no personal days,” Maggie noted. “I have been working seven days-a-week, 12 hours a day for the past two years. You have to do it, or you will lose your job.”
Despite this, Maggie indicated she had voted in favor of the agreement. “With this leadership, this is the best we could hope for,” she explained.
A WSWS Autoworker Newsletter campaign team spoke to workers at the vote, which was held at the Local 892 union hall. They also distributed a statement calling on Faurecia workers to vote “no” on the contract and urging the formation of a rank-and-file committee to take the conduct of negotiations out of the hands of the UAW, which by its whole conduct has demonstrated its complete subservience to management.
Local 892 officials, including Robinson, attempted to intimidate workers, in some cases tearing leaflets out their hands. Not succeeding in their intimidation tactics, UAW officials then called the police. Despite the efforts of Local 892 officials, workers took the Autoworker Newsletter statement. Many said they were concerned about the fact that the UAW had not given them a chance to study the full contract language before they were asked to vote.
These actions further demonstrate the enormous fear of the UAW, which is determined to suppress any opposition to concessions especially with the contracts for 155,000 workers at the Detroit-based Big Three auto companies set to expire in September. The massive profits of the auto companies are bound up with the ability of the UAW to suppress the opposition by workers to round after round of concessions. For its services the UAW is well rewarded by the auto companies, who have poured hundreds of millions if not billions into the union coffers through the funding of training centers and other joint programs.
Reports in the corporate media indicate that the auto companies will push for further concessions in this round of negotiations, including the right to hire more low paid contract workers and cuts to autoworkers health benefits, which financial analysts denounce as “gold plated.” There plans are to bring the poverty wages and sweatshop conditions that prevail in the auto part industry into Ford, GM and Fiat Chrysler plants with the collusion of the UAW.
However, there is a growing mood of resistance in the working class and a determination to fight back. As the experience at Faurecia again demonstrates workers must not subordinate their struggle to the pro-company UAW. The building of new, democratic, organizations of struggle in every factory and workplace is the pre-condition for waging a successful fight.