6/19/08

UAW goes out on strike in Kentucky

Non-union workers continue operations

Officials for United Autoworkers 822 and Douglas Autotech Corporation met for negotiations last Friday, but came away from the bargaining table with no settlement. On Saturday, striking Douglas employees watched three semi trucks arrive to transport equipment from the Douglas plant, 300 Albers Rd., to an unknown location. “They’ve got trucks moving things out and extra security,” said Frank Gruza, vice president of UAW 822, in a phone call early Saturday morning.

Gruza said the company indicated at the June 2 meeting that they were thinking of moving the Bendix line to their plant in Hopkinsville, Ky. The average production hourly wage at the Kentucky company is $13.96, and the average wage for production at the Bronson plant is $15.

According to Gruza and union president Mary Ellis, the company and the union remain deadlocked over contract negotiations in spite of a four-hour meeting on Friday, June 13.

“They offered the same proposal they gave June 2,” Ellis said. “That was it. We extended an olive branch and said we would go to work under the old contract and would set time frames for settlement. The company said they wanted nothing to do with the old contract.”

Ellis said 20 of the 146 employees at Douglas would lose their jobs if the Bendix line leaves Bronson. When the union went on strike on May 1, 106 employees were working, and 40 employees were on lay-off status.

Meanwhile Douglas employees continue to picket the company while non-union employees work at the plant. Employees were locked out May 5 after offering to return to work. The company hired non-union employees to work in place of the striking workers.
Officials at Douglas AutoTech declined to comment on the strike when contacted by the Bronson Journal. They referred the Bronson Journal to their negotiator, Attorney Bruce Lillie in Lansing, who did not return phone calls or respond to messages.

Union and company officials plan to meet again July 1-2 for more talks.

The Warner and Douglas Corporation established Douglas in 1902. The company began to make steering columns in 1955 for Ford. In 1986, Douglas introduced the first tilt and telescopic steering column and the single-lever type tilt and telescoping steering column in 1991 for heavy-duty trucks. In 1991, the Fuji Kiko Co., Ltd. purchased 51 percent of the company. Today, Fuji Kiko Co. owns 100 percent.

Douglas AutoTech in Hopkinsville, Ky., is one of nine Japanese companies in Christian County, Ky.

(thedailyreporter.com)

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