The UAW settled a two-day strike last week at four Johnson Controls Inc. plants, winning a deal that will make it easier for the union to organize more of the interior supplier's plants.
The workers returned to their jobs on Friday, June 14, after Johnson Controls agreed to tentative contracts at three plants shut down by striking workers. At the three factories, in Earth City, Mo., Oklahoma City and Shreveport, La., the company earlier had recognized the UAW, but the parties had failed to agree to initial contracts.
Workers also walked off the job at a fourth plant in Northwood, Ohio, which had not been officially organized by the UAW. Johnson Controls, which is based in Milwaukee, agreed to recognize the union at Northwood as part of the settlement.
The union went on strike on Wednesday after accusing the company of anti-union actions and unfair labor practices. Workers voted on the tentative pacts on Friday and returned before the votes were counted.
The strike by 700 employees at the four Johnson Controls plants shut down assembly lines at General Motors plants in Shreveport and Oklahoma City and three Chrysler group plants - two in St. Louis and one in Toledo, Ohio. The two automakers together lost an estimated 8,500 units of truck production, according to estimates by the Automotive News Data Center.
Top Johnson Controls executives agreed to remain neutral on any organizing bids for 26 other plants employing 8,000 workers. In most cases, a majority of employees signing cards seeking UAW representation will be accepted, union officials said. The plants don't include Johnson Controls factories that serve only nonunion transplant manufacturers such as Honda and Toyota.
The strike sent a message about the intentions of new UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, who was elected to that post on June 5.
"We're not a strike-happy union - but, make no mistake about it, we're also not afraid to use a point of leverage we have to support our members and to support workers who want UAW representation," Gettelfinger said. "It's our hope that every nonunion employer in the country hears us loud and clear on that point, especially in the supplier sector."