Fuyao workers and public officials to hold town hall April 30 for fair union election and workplace safety
(MORAINE, Ohio) – Workers at the Fuyao Glass plant in Moraine, Ohio, will join with elected officials for a town hall meeting Sunday, April 30, to urge Fuyao Glass to support employees’ rights to a fair union election and a safe workplace.
The public meeting will be held April 30 at UAW Local 696, 1543 Alwildy Ave. in Dayton from 2 to 3:30 p.m. and comes just days after the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health listed Fuyao as among the “Dirty Dozen” most dangerous employers in the United States in a report issued earlier today.
“Workers should never have to choose between good jobs and safe jobs – but that’s what has been happening at Fuyao Glass since the plant first opened,” said Jessica Martinez, co-executive director of the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH). “Workers are frequently around broken glass and sharp edges without the proper protection, and they have been exposed to the risk of amputation. Fuyao Glass has received up to $22 million in public subsidies and the company needs to fulfill its obligation to provide a safe workplace.”
“Sunday’s town hall meeting is good way to tell the community exactly what is happening in our plant,” said Fuyao worker Curt Stewart. “As much as the $2 raise we won is a step in the right direction, it’s not going to silence Fuyao workers from speaking up. Management has not addressed job security, safety and respect as they promised. That’s why Fuyao workers believe we need a contract – to make our company a more safe and profitable place for all. We want Fuyao to be the best auto glass company in the world. But this can only happen if workers and management work together,” said Stewart.
Fuyao worker DeAnn Wilson says it’s important for workers and supporters to come together to show unity. “The town hall will show that regardless of our differences in opinions, races, cultures and nationalities, we can come together in solidarity,” she said. “We can show our community that we all want Fuyao to be a successful company and are willing to do the work to make that happen. We can accomplish all this and still be treated with respect and dignity, have a safe work environment and be treated fairly across the board,” said Wilson.
Montgomery Council Democratic Party Chairperson Mark Owens is among the elected officials and community supporters scheduled to speak at the town hall. “The opportunity for honor and dignity of work that Fuyao originally offered to our area was welcomed by all of us,” he wrote in a March 19 letter to Fuyao. “Unfortunately, as the plant has grown the jobs that Fuyao promised are not the jobs available,” he added. Owens also is the clerk of court for the Dayton Municipal Courts.
Montgomery County Clerk of Courts Gregory A. Brush is also scheduled to speak at the public meeting. “While it is encouraging that your company has begun to take steps to upgrade the physical safety of workers at the plant, I would encourage you and your organization to also work on the security aspect of the employees,” he wrote in a March 21 letter to Fuyao. “As someone who leads an organization with organized union employees, I can say that the overall benefit to the organization is positive.”
In March, Fuyao, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and four workers represented by the UAW reached an agreement that requires the company to make major safety improvements to the plant by May 1. Those improvements include addressing serious issues regarding machine safety – such as workers who enter machines to make repairs without proper safeguards and the lack of equipment that prevents workers from getting caught in machinery. Other health and safety issues identified by OSHA need to be fixed by June 1.
These settlements, however, don’t address all of the safety issues that workers have raised. OSHA also is investigating possible safety violations alleged to have caused serious respiratory problems, cuts from glass shards and exposure to dangerous levels of furnace heat. In February, workers filed charges with OSHA detailing the incidents, including workers using dangerous adhesives without proper breathing protection. The adhesives contain a group of chemicals called isocyanates, which can cause asthma and other serious respiratory problems. One of the Fuyao workers affected, James Martin, will speak at the town hall, “Prior to my job at Fuyao I had healthy lungs,” said Fuyao worker James Martin, who filed a complaint on the issue with OSHA in February. “After I was exposed to isocyanate glues and primers I had lung issues that were diagnosed as a disease that has reduced my lung capacity.” Martin is on medical leave.
Fuyao worker Larry Yates will also speak at the town hall about his allegation that he faced dangerous conditions while working to repair heating elements inside a furnace at Fuyao. “I crawled over and sat on piles of glass shards which became embedded in my legs and behind,” said Yates. “The heat was very bad because the second half of the furnace was left energized (at 650 degrees Fahrenheit).”