UAW members at a Clarios battery plant near Toledo, Ohio, that supplies Ford Motor Co. and General Motors entered their fifth day on the picket line Friday with no signs of an agreement — and tensions rising with an anticipated court hearing.
The company requested a meeting this week and met with negotiators Thursday but didn't reach an agreement.
The main issue continues to be scheduling. The company wants an alternative work schedule that would eliminate a lot of overtime after eight hours per day and cost workers an estimated $15,000 a year on average, according to UAW Local 12 President Bruce Baumhower.
Kris Sherman, Clarios' director of communications for the U.S. and Canada, said Thursday the company's proposed agreement includes across-the-board wage increases, flexible shifts, built-in overtime and opportunities for voluntary overtime.
Clarios filed for a court injunction against the striking workers in hopes of clearing the driveway at the plant in Holland, Ohio. The injunction, which UAW regional director for Ohio and Indiana David Green called "extremely disrespectful," is scheduled to be heard in court Friday morning.
In documents supporting the injunction, Clarios claims pickets forcibly blocked the entrance to the plant and obstructed vehicles trying to enter and exit. Clarios is seeking a temporary restraining order to fix the number of pickets allowed at the entrance as well as a permanent injunction.
"We respect our employees right to strike, however, there have been a series of unsafe activities taking place on the picket lines," Clarios said in an e-mailed statement Friday. "There’s absolutely no reason for this strike to endanger our represented and salaried employees, family members who may be on the picket line, or the suppliers and vendors who are associated with our business.
"We remain committed to creating a fair agreement that increases wages, provides more flexible schedules, and better opportunities. Safety must come first - we will do what is required to protect all our people and our community.
"We will evaluate individual incidents and will take appropriate disciplinary action as appropriate."
The UAW's Green, in response, said in a statement: “UAW members have acted with dignity and respect while on the picket line. We hope Clarios does the right thing and sits back down at the bargaining table. While we want the company to prosper, our main concern is our members and their lives as they give them every day to the company.”
Although management is attempting to keep equipment running, "I don't think there's any production happening," Green said. He expects some production plants upstream in the supply chain are being affected. So farther, neither Ford nor GM have reported production disruptions.
Clarios said it has restarted operations.
"We're working around the clock to execute our contingency plans. Our salaried team in Toledo has restarted operations, we're leveraging our production footprint to support deliveries and team members around the company are stepping up to support our customers," Sherman said.
The picket line has been visited by regional and national UAW leaders, including Vice President Rich Boyer, and Ohio politicians such as longtime U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur.
Clarios, based in Milwaukee and formerly part of Johnson Controls Inc., ranks No. 75 on Automotive News' list of the top 100 global parts suppliers, with estimated worldwide parts sales to automakers of $2.5 billion in its fiscal 2021.