About 270 workers are on strike against Autoneum AG’s auto parts plant in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. After overwhelmingly rejecting the third “final” deal.
The striking workers are members of Local 1700 Workers United, affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). No contract since April.
Swiss-based parts provider Autoneum manufactures internal and external sound and thermal insulation systems for manufacturers such as General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Stellantis. The company has 10 of his locations in the United States and approximately 12,000 employees in 53 facilities on five continents.
The final offer from Autoneum is a taunt.
In addition to regular medical expense increases, the company requires employees to accept a 5% increase in annual insurance premiums. The worker already pays his 25% of medical insurance premiums. The offer from Autoneum includes a small $1 raise in the first year, followed by 60 cents in two years and 75 cents in three years. It also excludes retroactive payment of lost wages under the old contract, a condition that continues until a new contract is signed.
Between the current 8% inflation rate and rising health insurance premiums, Autoneum is effectively requiring workers to accept significant pay cuts.
Brian Heverly, president of Local 1700, told local media, “We have an increase in medical costs and a pay rise, and we want to be paid back when the contract expires in April.” We don’t want to hear our opinion.
“The company doesn’t seem to take us seriously or want to negotiate seriously,” he said. “They put us in a corner.”
Bloomsburg is a town of approximately 13,000 people located in eastern Pennsylvania on Interstate 80 between New York City and Chicago. Autoneum he has owned for over ten years.
Dave Schaffer, who has worked at the plant for 44 years, said the plant hasn’t gone on strike since 1968, at the height of the Vietnam War.
“I am fourth generation,” he told local media. “This town was made, this place made this town. People and communities appreciate that we are here. I am very proud of everyone who works here.”
Behind the move against Autoneum employees lies global developments, particularly the US proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.
Autoneum reports a loss of $13.6 million in the first half of 2022. This is his net reversal of over $40 million from his position a year ago.according to car news“The company’s struggles mirror those of many other global auto suppliers this year, particularly those operating in Europe.”
In a statement, Autoneum explained its loss:
Current geopolitical developments have had a significant impact on our performance in the first half of 2022. This is accompanied by accelerating inflation and significant price increases in commodity markets, which is exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. These developments are also slowing the market recovery in the automotive industry.
The company, which secured a $377 million loan package from banks on Oct. 31, intends to pass the losses on to its employees. This small factory in Pennsylvania selects workers for allegedly high medical bills.
But while Autoneum has a global strategy, Local 1700’s parent union hasn’t even put forward the fiction that it supports a strike.
After a petty bureaucratic infight, the website of Workers United (WU), a small union spun off from Unite Here, has no reports of the struggle. In fact, WU’s website hasn’t been updated since his early June. There is no news of the strike on either the SEIU website or that of the UAW, a major union in the automotive industry.
Asked to comment on the strike at Autoneum, Will Lehman, a civilian candidate for the UAW president’s rebels, denounced the company’s “final” contract offer and said he was behind Bloomsburg workers. We asked for the widest possible mobilization. Lehman, who has a truck assembly plant about 90 miles away, escalated the struggle, UT and he called on the workers to form a general committee to prevent betrayal by union bureaucrats at the SEIU. . He said,
Congrats to the Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania parts workers who rejected Autoneum’s contract. This rotten deal ties you to annual salary cuts. You are standing by all workers in the fight against rising healthcare costs.
But why don’t unions tell other workers about the strike? Why don’t they call workers at Autoneum’s other factories in the US, or at dozens of factories it owns around the world? Why is my union, the UAW, not saying anything about this important battle in the auto industry?
In fact, these trade unions are not united. they split up. To win, Autotoneum workers will have to take matters into their own hands and form a general committee to work with workers across the automotive industry. This movement is already building. I pledge my support and will do everything in my power to help.
The threat of betrayal by the Workers’ Union is not idle. That was last year’s fate of a small plant in Terre Haute, Indiana. Workers at his AMCOR, a packaging manufacturing plant, rejected corrupt contracts twice, which Workers United unilaterally forced on them. Former union president Mike Hoaglund went so far as to promise the company in a secret email to find replacement workers for the strikers.