A majority of workers at a Magna auto parts facility in Warren, Mich., voted Oct. 5-6 in favor of union representation. The election, conducted by the National Labor Relations Board, allows United Auto Workers Local 155 to represent the 200-plus workers who build dashboard components for the auto industry. Local 155 currently has over 50 small shops in Metro Detroit under its umbrella.
The workers’ biggest complaints centered on the complete lack of seniority rights, high out-of-pocket expenses for health insurance and an unfair point system that routinely leads to unfair discipline.
Workers can receive points for refusing to work overtime, even when they are asked right before quitting time. Discrimination against Hmong immigrants, who constitute about 25 percent of the workforce, was another issue that led workers to seek unionization.
Magna, self-described as “a leading global automotive supplier with 327 manufacturing operations and 100 product development, engineering and sales centers in 29 countries” with “161,000 employees,” can well afford to cover the cost of workers’ health insurance. The company made over $1.5 billion in the first half of this year.
At one time, the UAW represented the majority of independent parts suppliers, companies that provided a wide range of components to the Big Three automakers. Over the years, outsourcing to nonunion firms has increased to 70 percent of all outsourced parts companies.
The UAW election win was the second in Metro Detroit in the past month, the first being at a Penske Logistics warehouse on Sept. 13.