Workers were told to report for the afternoon shift at 3 p.m. EDT. The UAW scheduled a town hall meeting with members in Saline, about 45 miles west of Detroit, Friday morning. Workers were told they will receive terms of the agreement on Monday and a ratification vote would take place later next week.
Pickets were out in force earlier Friday, stationed at every plant entrance, cheering and chanting "8-9-2" while car horns blared. Vehicles were allowed to come and go through the main gate with no altercations. There was a strong security presence and local police were standing by.
Before the agreement was reached, numerous workers interviewed on the picket line said the strike was about working conditions at the plant as much as it was about wages and benefits.
Dwayne Harris, a rank-and-file member for five years, said the plant is turning over workers at a rapid pace. "Between 2,000 and 5,000 people work here every year," he said while picketing with fellow workers.
Neither the UAW nor Faurecia would discuss terms of the new agreement.
The 2015 four-year contract was extended for three weeks on June 1 by company and union officials.
The injection molding plant in Saline produces instrument panels, center consoles and other interior parts.
As of 2015, the plant generated about $1.1 billion in annual sales, according to reports at the time.
The plant, built by Ford in 1966, covers 1.6 million square feet in the small town south of Ann Arbor, Mich. It later became part of supplier Visteon Corp. when the Ford parts unit was spun off from the parent company in 2000. Following years of red ink at Visteon, the plant went through another ownership change before Faurecia acquired it in 2012. Several upgrades took place at the plant in 2015, Automotive News reported at the time.
Under the 2015 contract, wages for new line workers begin at $12 an hour and top out at $17.50 in four years. Skilled workers' pay starts at $28 an hour and top out at $32.
Plant workers and their supporters have been complaining about conditions inside the plant on Saline social media sites for several months, but neither the company nor officials at the union local would answer questions from Automotive News on Thursday. According to a source familiar with the conditions, the plant has experienced plumbing issues and required the use of portable restrooms at one point earlier this year.
Several picketing workers on Friday complained about plant conditions, particularly a leaky roof during what's been a very wet and rainy spring in Michigan.
'Fix the roof'
Before the settlement, picketing workers chanted: "Fix the roof! Fix the roof!" If nothing else, the brief strike gave workers a chance to blow off steam.
A 12-year employee of the plant, Marcy Berry, who works as a clerk in shipping, said she doesn’t have enough time to eat lunch because workload increases while the plant cuts labor.
“I don’t even get the time I’m allotted for lunch because if I do eat they’re on your case because the loads are late,” Berry said.
She said employees want hourly wage increases instead of bonuses that are subject to taxes.
“The bonuses they tax 40 percent so you barely see anything,” Berry said.
Chris Richardson, a leader in shipping, said he works through his lunch as well, in the midst of what he described as safety hazards.
“We have ponding going on the floor when it rains,” he said. “It’s slippery.”
“We’re using port-o-potties because the pipes are clogged," said Richardson. "The drinking water coming out of the fountain is brown.”
Joel Hall, a Hi-Lo driver for the plant, said he wants recognition and compensation for putting in what he said is a lot of effort at work.
“We want them to treat us like people, not a damn machine,” Hall said. “We’ve got families. We want appreciation and more money.”
Hall said there’s an upcoming contract with General Motors for interior parts. He works with parts from Tesla and Ford.
Rob Riggs, a production operator on the Jeep line, said management puts veteran employees working at the maximum wage “in positions to get fired,” and replaced by new employees at a lower, starting wage.
“A living wage isn’t $15,” Riggs said. “No way. I used to live above middle class and now I live just above the poverty line.”