OUR PATH SO FAR
Timeline Reveals Repeated Violations of Workers’ Rights and Major Safety Issues, Pitting Fuyao Against the NLRB and OSHA
Fuyao Glass begins operations at its new plant in Moraine, OH. Soon afterwards, the first Fuyao workers reach out to the UAW to ask about organizing a union at the plant, and small groups of workers begin meeting to make a plan.
MARCH 25, 2016:
On behalf of workers, the UAW files the first charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that Fuyao is interfering with workers’ legally protected rights to form a union. Additional charges were filed on May 5.
MAY 4, 2016:
Eleven workers file a complaint with OSHA alleging a variety of safety violations, including cut hazards, the absence of proper machine guarding and lock out-tag out procedures, fire safety violations, electrical safety issues, fall hazards, collision hazards, and other issues.
JULY 19, 2016:
An administrative error results in many workers’ paychecks not being direct deposited into their account. Even though Fuyao corrected the error, many workers still had checks bounce because, at the wages Fuyao pays, they live paycheck-to-paycheck. On the same day, Fuyao made changes its attendance policy that many workers said made it even harder for workers to balance work with other commitments. This one-two punch created a big jump in interest among our co-workers in forming our union.
JULY 28, 2016:
The National Labor Relations Board issues a complaint that finds merit to allegations by Fuyao workers that the company maintained illegal work rules, interrogated workers about union activities, called police when we leafleted our co-workers, and other violations. After several delays, the matter is set for a trial on May 15, 2017.
NOVEMBER 19, 2016:
In response to the workers’ complaint, OSHA issues 11 serious safety citations and proposes $131,836 in fines for safety violations. OSHA found safety violations related to “machine safety violations which expose workers to amputation and other serious injuries, as well as a lack of personal protective equipment, electrical hazards, failing to train workers about hazardous chemicals in use and unmarked exits.”1 “Fuyao Glass America needs to protect its workers. Period,” OSHA Area Director Ken Montgomery said in a news release issued on November 10, 2016 announcing a total of $227,000 in proposed fines. “Since Fuyao began operations in October 2015, we have received multiple complaints and conducted eight inspections at the facility. We found safety and health violations in six of them. OSHA will remain vigilant until this rapidly expanding company protects its workers from serious safety hazards by making needed improvements to equipment, procedures and training. Providing jobs in a community should not come at the expense of workers’ safety and health.”
1. OSHA Press Release, issued November 10, 2016, available at https://www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=NEWS_RELEASES&p_id=33396, accessed November 17, 2016.
JANUARY 1, 2017:
The company changes its attendance policy again, this time taking away vacation and flex days, and making it even harder for workers to deal with family emergencies without risking getting fired. The move sparks another big surge in worker interest in forming our union.
FEBRUARY 15, 2017:
Seven additional workers file serious OSHA charges.
FEBRUARY 17, 2017:
OSHA and Fuyao agree to settle all the outstanding charges. By this point, there are 23 serious safety violations pending, with nearly $227,000 in proposed fines. In the settlement, OSHA decreases the fines to $100,000, but affirms the substance of the violations and directs Fuyao to fix all outstanding problems by no later than June 1, 2017.
FEBRUARY 27, 2017:
Four workers appeal the settlement, arguing that Fuyao can and should fix the problems sooner.
MARCH 20, 2017:
On March 20, 2017, OSHA, Fuyao, and the four workers who filed the appeal announced a revised settlement agreement that makes some major improvements. The settlement agreement, among other things:
- Moves the abatement date for the lockout/tagout and machine guarding citations up from June 1 to May 1.
- Establishes an Associate Safety Committee, and allows workers to volunteer for the committee (rather than it just being made up of people chosen by the company, as the original settlement provided) that goes into effect May 1 (one month earlier than in the original settlement).
- Requires Fuyao to hire a third-party safety consultant, set up an employee helpline for workers to call with safety concerns, putting up safety bulletin boards and an electronic billboard, and other provisions.
MARCH 23, 2017:
Approximately 20 Fuyao workers attend the Moraine City Council meeting. Seven workers testify about the issues they see at the plant, and why we are joining together to form our union.