Detroit Chassis Organizing

Detroit Chassis Organizing Drive

In early 2016, Dave Paton, a temporary employee of Detroit Chassis, reached out to UAW local 2000 after rumors of a union coming to the plant never materialized. President Bill Samples suggested a small committee form from the workforce to gauge the possibility of organizing a union in our workplace. After meeting with a small group of temporary employees and hearing their story of low wages, poor benefits, no paid holidays, no paid time off and several more issues, UAW authorization cards were distributed around the plant. By the end of January 2016, 100% of temporary employees at Detroit Chassis had signed UAW cards.

More expertise from the UAW was brought in, including UAW International Union Organizers Susan Reed and Jorge Fernandez and UAW Local 2000 Bargaining Committeman Mark Wells to inform the workers how to form a union and what response to expect from the company. The workers remained strong and patient, checking in with the UAW Local 2000 president from time to time. In late March of 2016, the 2nd shift temporary workers banded together and left work at a time they determined. There was more talk of drastic action and this was brought to the attention of UAW Local 2000. First, a small committee of workers met with the UAW. Next, the entire workforce met with representatives of the UAW. It was decided on Wednesday April 13 that a formal recognition of their union would be presented to management of Detroit Chassis the following day.

On Thursday April 14 at 4:30 pm, the temporary workers of Detroit Chassis formally presented a letter to management asking for union recognition and to begin the collective bargaining process. The workers rallied together as a sign of solidarity. At week's end the company had not reached out to the UAW. On Sunday April 17, the workers unanimously voted to authorize a strike. On Monday, April 18 at 5:00 am, the workers rallied again in front of Detroit Chassis to show their solidarity. They were joined with current and retired UAW workers, as well as family and friends. Work began as usual at 6:00 am Monday morning. At 5:00 pm during shift change that Monday, the temporary employees of Detroit Chassis were informed that the company had recognized their union and that they were now permanent employees of Detroit Chassis. The workers were told a bargaining committee will be elected to begin the collective bargaining process.

The workers of Detroit Chassis would like thank UAW Region 2B Director Ken Lortz, the National Organizing Department, and specifically President Bill Samples, UAW International Organizers Susan Reed and Jorge Fernandez and UAW Local 2000 Bargaining Committeeman Mark Wells. After union recognition, changes at the plant are already apparent. New safety and training procedures have been implemented as well as a more open dialogue between management and employees.

Gabe Luchkowsky

Detroit Chassis, Avon, Ohio