Anger is spreading through Dana Inc. auto parts plants across the US as workers learn that the corporation is paying temporary workers $25 an hour at the plant in Louisville, Kentucky and forcing them to sign non-disclosure agreements so they do not inform full-time coworkers of their pay rate.
The $25 wage does not count the hourly fee Dana pays to the temp agencies. Adding this fee, it is likely Dana is paying $30-$35 an hour for temps. Temporary workers have told the World Socialist Web Site that there are two contracting agencies bringing in workers to Dana’s Louisville plant, and that the number of temps has been increasing each day. It is not known whether the company is paying this rate for temps at other Dana plants. Workers at the Louisville plant say the UAW must have known about this arrangement and have done nothing to address it.
The combined rate Dana pays the temp workers and the agency is far above the $22.50 that workers will be paid at the end of the five-year contract that the UAW and USW forced through last week. It shows that the Fortune 500 company could have afforded to give workers massive pay increases to make up for inflation and the rising cost of living.
It also shows just how valuable workers are to the company in the midst of supply chain breakdowns and labor shortages. Dana’s earnings in the third quarter were $210 million, up from $201 million last year, with total revenue increasing from $1.99 billion to $2.2 billion. These profits were acquired through extreme exploitation, 84-hour weeks, 12-hour days and nonstop speedups and mandates.
The concealment of this critical information during the recent vote on a contract covering four and a half years, which workers voted to accept only under intense pressure from the United Auto Workers and United Steelworkers, constitutes bad faith on the part of the unions. From a strictly legal standpoint, it should make the contract that was recently rammed through legally invalid and inoperable. It shows that, unbeknownst to the workers themselves, the company is paying full-time, experienced workers far below the market value of pay for even temporary work.
The World Socialist Web Site spoke to one of the Dana temporary workers, who confirmed their wage is $25 an hour.
“It’s morally unjust. $25 has honestly been a boon and a blessing, but I hope to see it spread to the people that deserve it more [full-time workers]. Dana is no doubt paying more than $25/hr for each of us,” the worker said. “The temp agency always gets a cut, of course. As far as the non-disclosure agreement goes, it was fairly run-of-the-mill legal jargon. The only standout part was a mention of wages being kept private, which was in bold.”
Dana is highly concerned about how full-time workers would respond if word leaked about this situation and that it threatens to invalidate the contract that was just forced through.
The temp worker told the WSWS, “Even at the agency, it was oddly hush-hush. They wouldn’t say the company name out loud.” A representative at The Job Center, one of the two contracting agencies reportedly working with Dana to provide temps, confirmed to the World Socialist Web Site that it has been providing temps to Dana and that workers are paid a rate of $25 an hour.
Full-time Dana workers are furious over the revelations.
One worker in Louisville told the WSWS, “It’s crazy and unfair to any of us who work there, including the temps. For those of us who have been there, it really is a slap in the face, they won’t pay us more than $22.50, but they will go pay temps $25. Then you have the temps who are currently making $25, and after they get hired in will be dropped back down to $18. It’s a mess all around.”
The Louisville worker said workers had complained to the UAW, which apparently knew about the temps. “They must know, we have told them over and over. Our chairman and president are still out on Union Leave; they have yet to return to work. We have told our union, and they won’t do anything about it. So they have to be involved. This was bad faith for both Dana and the UAW.”
The WSWS asked UAW Public Relations Director Brian Rothenberg for comment, but Rothenberg gave none.
Dana’s actions meet the legal definition of “bad faith,” which Law.com defines as “an intentional dishonest act by not fulfilling legal or contractual obligations, misleading another, entering into an agreement without the intention or means to fulfill it, or violating basic standards of honesty in dealing with others.”
A contract or tentative agreement is not valid if reached through bad faith. The dictionary definition explains, “The question of bad faith may be raised as a defense to a suit on a contract.”
Upon reading this legal definition, a Dana worker in Fort Wayne told the WSWS, “That’s pretty much exactly what they did. It’s just another slap in the face to people who’ve stuck with it. This is the best chance we’ve had in 40-50 years to get what we deserve.”
Had workers known about this before they voted, the contract would have been overwhelmingly rejected. When asked how the vote would have turned out if workers had known about the temp wages, a Dana worker in Warren, Michigan said, “It would have been turned down.” The Louisville plant did, in fact, vote the contract down the second time.
Another Dana worker said, “I’m just ashamed that I feel we are turning a blind eye with this. If we’d have known about it before voting on the contract, it could have been one of the many reasons the local and global would have been turned down again. This right here is why we need rank-and-file members to control the process.”
Workers took to social media to express their anger over the fact that Dana is paying temps more than what workers will make in five years. “We should walk out,” one worker said. Another worker said, “I used to work at Louisville for 10 years and recently left. Before I left, there were two temps that told me and others on the line they had to sign a non-disclosure agreement, and they were making $25, [and] this was thru [a temp] company. It was the newest of 8 temp services Louisville uses.”
Marcia Walters, widow of former Dana worker Danny Walters, who passed away after having a seizure at work, said, “This is extremely disrespectful to the employees that have been there week after week. I find this hard to believe that any employer would do this to their other workers. It’s like giving candy to some students in a classroom and neglecting the others. WHO made a decision like this?”
If you have more information, email the Dana Workers Rank-and-file Committee at DanaWRFC@gmail.com or text (248)-602-0936.