Archive for February, 2009

Dana Stockton Workers Say YES to the UAW

After a long campaign, Dana Stockton workers on February 16th, 2008 were officially certified as UAW Local 76 members.  We are all proud and welcome Dana workers to Local 76.  Solidarity – Jim Soldate UAW, President Local 76.

The third time is the charm, at least so far as unionization of workers goes at the Dana Holding Corp. truck frame assembly plant in south Stockton.

More than 70 percent of about 250 workers at the 15-year-old plant signed up for representation by the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers union.

“They wanted to have a voice in the workplace,” said Jim Soldate, president of the UAW’s Fremont-based Local 76.

Three Dana workers interviewed Wednesday said that concerns over seniority after a December layoff of about 70 plant employees convinced workers they needed the UAW’s help.

When the plant cut back from two shifts to one in December, some workers with more than a decade at the plant lost their jobs, while others with only a year or two of experience were kept on, they said.

“I just don’t think it’s fair,” said Romeo Cabocan, a production-line quality inspector who has worked at the plant for 111/2 years. “We understand with the economy they’ve got to cut people, but they’ve got to do it fairly.”

Marshall Abalos, a shipping and receiving worker with 14 years at the plant, said workers were uncomfortable, because they didn’t know who might get laid off. And three workers interviewed said everyone expects more layoffs because of the recession.

“We just want fairness,” said Arturo Limpin, a plant worker of 10 years who recently was downsized from quality inspector to the production line.

Luis Barroeta, general manager of the Stockton plant, didn’t return calls for comment.

With union approval, workers automatically get seniority preference during layoffs because of the UAW’s master agreement with Dana Holding Corp., Soldate said.

Dana Corp. workers at the Stockton plant considered unionization in 2004 and 2005. Both attempts failed.

Plant workers voted no on unionization with the Sacramento-based Sheet Metal Workers union Local 162 in June 2004 and no again in October 2005 with Shop Ironworkers Local 790, based in Oakland.

Since then, Dana Corp. went into bankruptcy for nearly two years and emerged from bankruptcy protection almost 13 months ago.

The 105-year-old Dana Holding Corp. employs about 30,000 people in 26 countries and reported 2007 worldwide sales of $8.7 billion in auto parts and components such as axles and drive shafts for the automotive, commercial truck and off-highway vehicle markets.

The Stockton plant, at 1550 Industrial Drive, makes Toyota truck frames for the New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. plant, a joint venture of General Motors and Toyota Motor Corp. in Fremont.

Company spokesman Chuck Hartlage said from company headquarters in Toledo, Ohio, that union representation of workers is the norm, with employees at 24 of 26 plants in the United States and Canada represented by either the UAW, the Canadian Auto Workers Union, or machinists and steelworkers unions.

“Our employees certainly have the right to elect union representation, and we certainly will honor that,” he said. “We have a good relation with the UAW overall. They represent employees at many other Dana facilities, and we expect to work with the union to continue improving our business.”

It’s been a rocky business the past few years.

The company went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March 2006 with 44,000 employees worldwide, include 17,000 in the United States. It emerged from bankruptcy protection on Feb. 1, 2008, about 9,000 employees lighter, including 5,000 in the United States, after closing or consolidating some plants and selling off some subsidiaries.

In November, the company posted a third-quarter net loss of $271 million, and Chairman John Devine said then that the company expected to close 10 plants and lay off more people in 2009 and 2010. Hartlage said about 5,000 more workers have been laid off since then, most of them in North America.

Devine said in a broadcast to employees Wednesday that the market continues to be unstable and that more layoffs are expected, according to Hartlage. Four of the 10 plant closures have happened since November, and Hartlage said the company hasn’t yet announced any additional details about plans for other plant closures.

Of the Stockton plant, Hartlage said only: “Stockton serves a very, very important customer.”

He said the company’s relationship with the UAW has become stronger because of the union’s role in working with the company to come out of Chapter 11.

Workers said that although pay is important, it’s not a driving issue. Some benefits are, though, such as not having paid sick days and getting written up by the company if a worker doesn’t call in sick at least 24 hours before a shift, they said.

Article written by Bruce Spence, Stockton Record Staff Writer.  To view original post view: Here

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Union numbers up slightly in 2008

This posting was found on the UAW Website:  Here

The number of union members in 2008 rose slightly when compared with 2007, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There were slightly more than 16 million labor union members last year, up roughly 428,000 workers. The private sector saw a .1 percent increase while the public sector went up nearly a full percentage point.

That’s good news as more Americans are seeing the benefits of joining together during hard economic times. Union density went up from 12.1 percent of the workforce to 12.4 percent.

And in hard economic times, being a union member remains the best way to protect your wages: The median weekly wage for all union members went up from $863 in 2007 to $886. Nonunion workers saw an increase as well, but their median average wage went up from $663 to $691.

It’s the second consecutive year that labor union membership has grown and the largest increase in more than 20 years, but millions of workers are still being denied their legal rights to collectively bargain for a better future. Studies show many more people would join unions if not for employer intimidation.

The Employee Free Choice Act, which is supported by a bipartisan majority in Congress and President Obama, would level the playing field between big business and workers in union representation elections. The measure is expected to be voted on this year.

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Employee Free Choice Act has broad-based support

This posting was found on the UAW Website:  Here

A new poll shows an overwhelming majority of Americans from just about all walks of life supports legislation that protects workers’ freedom to form unions and collectively bargain for better working conditions.

The poll, conducted last month by Hart Research Associates, shows that 78 percent of those questioned favor legislation that would make it easier to form unions. Nearly half of those polled are strongly in favor.

Congress is expected to consider legislation this year that would provide working Americans with a measure of fairness when trying to form a union and when bargaining a first contract. Supporters of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) say it is needed because many employers, when faced with employees who exercise their legal right to form a union and collectively bargain, would rather hire anti-union law firms to harass and intimidate workers and pay an insignificant fine if caught breaking our nation’s notoriously weak labor laws.

EFCA would make forming a union simple: If a majority of workers signs union cards — known as “card check” — workers get their union. Workers would still be able to have a secret-ballot union election if one third of the workers petition to do so.

EFCA would also strengthen the penalties for violating the law during organizing campaigns and union elections as well as mandate mediation or arbitration for first-ever contract disputes to prevent companies from dragging out negotiations to wither support for the new union. According to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 44 percent of workers who form a new union never reach a first contract.

The poll, which was paid for by the AFL-CIO, has a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points. Some of its other findings:

— A majority (69 percent) of Americans agree it is very or fairly important to have strong laws that give employees the freedom to make their own choice about whether to form a union in their workplace. Half of Americans say this is very important.

— Support for the Employee Free Choice Act stretches across demographic and geographic lines. Democrats (87 percent) and Independents (69 percent) support EFCA. Even among Republicans, nearly half support the legislation. Opposition is further confined to Republicans who identify as conservatives (36 percent support). Three-quarters of moderate/liberal Republicans favor passing EFCA.

— Just 47 percent of adults know that when elections are held in a workplace to determine whether a union will represent employees, employers generally oppose the union and try to convince employees to vote no. Three in 10 Americans believe employers generally take no position and let employees decide on their own and 21 percent are not sure.

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