Freudenberg-NOK plant in Milan votes to unionize

Results unofficial, UAW challenging some votes.
Melissa Topey
Aug 16, 2013
Freudenberg-NOK, an autoparts plant in Milan, unofficially became unionized Thursday by a close vote of 103 to 97. Cheers went up when the vote total was announced.

“We did it. We came together as a team and we did it,” said Melanie Jett, an hourly employee at the plant, as she hugged fellow workers.  

But one obstacle remains.

The UAW, the organizing union, is challenging 10 votes, arguing they were cast either by salaried or temporary employees who are prohibited from voting. A UAW organizer reassured pro-union employees gathered outside the plant Thursday that those votes will be kept out. Freudenberg-NOK plans to make sure those 10 votes are counted.

“Today’s vote proved to be inconclusive due to the ballots challenged by the UAW,” said Lisa Gentile, spokeswoman for the company. “Freudenberg-NOK believes all eligible associates should have a voice in the outcome of the election and will continue to follow its standard policy of honoring and defending all legal protections afforded to our associates under the National Labor Relations Act.” A hearing will be held within the next couple of days at the National Labor Relations Board office in Cleveland, union organizers said.  

Freudenberg employees were hopeful even before the vote began, saying they thought they had the votes. Employees held a rally starting at 6 a.m., standing at the employee parking entrance holding Union yes signs. There ranks were added to by union officials from other UAW chapters, some from places as far away as Detroit and Kokomo, Ind. Other employees honked horns as they drove into the parking lot to go to work.

The employees said they were not against the company or their work. They wanted a fair and balanced workplace where there was more of a partnership with management.

Thursday they got it, unofficially.



Unionization won't cause them to lose their jobs, but the company will say that's the reason if they cut employees. Management/owners will never blame making cutbacks, closing, or moving on mismanagement. And apparently most of the people on this board don't think companies are ever mismanaged, either.


Re: "most of the people on this board don't think companies are ever mismanaged, either."

You may want to familiarize yourself with quality experts like W. Edwards Deming - it's ALWAYS mgmt's issue.

For one, Detroit auto makers always gave into union demands.

Good 2 B Me

True Story! They 'Layed off' about 50 people 5 or 6 years ago if you remember. Blamed it on the company that bought a portion of the business. Turns out that they simply had not made plans to use that space in a reasonable time and it cost 50 or so people their jobs. Management was hardly affected. There were a few members of management, but not nearly as many as production. Poor planning by Bad Management.


Union or not. If the company bigwigs decide to close this place in a year or two the union will not save them.

Been there , done that.

All any union wants is union dues so the union fat cats can go to "conventions" with all the perks.

Yes, I know that companies have been mismanaged. Many of them are to some degree.


What a lot of union haters. Divide and conquer. Perfectly all right for CEOs to make BILLIONS cause the stockholders own the company. Ha Ha Ha but the union guys are "fat cats" Ha Ha Ha. Meanwhile, Shalom Bernanke continues to make you poor schlub's money worth less and less every day.


Re: "stockholders own the company."

So you have $0.00 investible assets in a retirement fund?


Re: "stockholders own the company." YOU made that statement in a previous post.
AS TO MY RETIREMENT None of your business.


Re: "YOU made that statement in a previous post."

Actually, I used the term "shareholders."

The point: If you have a retirement fund and own any equities, YOU are a shareholder.

If not, enjoy living off the scraps the govt. and charity will provide you.


STOCK, SHARE same thing nit picker


Re: "same thing"

It ain't necessarily so financially ignorant one.

The Big Dog's back

Well on your way today pooh. Burp.


Did you read the part where I said COMPANY bigwigs mismanage - as well. Or should I have used the term fat cats all the way around?

I agree there are a lot of Greedy FAT CATS in COMPANIES - Why the HELL ELSE would they be in business?

There- is that better? Do I make myself more clear now?


it is not the first company to try to vote in a union. Firelands hospital, glidden in huron tried and failed. If the company runs without any issues and treats their employees correctly unions wouldn't even have a chance to enter the local companies. If it is true that they are horribly mistreated, I hope the union helps. Good luck. Unions are not what they used to be.


Hey Doggie,where did you come back from?


The only problem I see is what did the Union promise them? A Union can not guarantee better wages, it must be negotiated. It will be interesting to see if better wages and benefits are obtained. They may actually get no raise or better benefits and have to pay union dues resulting in less take home pay. Remember, they are a UAW supplier, not the big 3 with the top pay and pensions. Look at the difference in pay the old Ford plant in Castalia, they start at 12/hr now and top pay is 17/hr...far from the 25 to 30 they used to make when they were owned by Ford. The same can be said of KBI, Tenneco in Milan had to move their plant to Mexico to meet the demands of lower parts cost from Chrysler. Kinda ironic, the big 3 need their suppliers to make stuff cheaper so they can continue to pay their workers better wages and benefits.


Re: "move their plant to Mexico,"

And actually, the economy of Mexico is doin' better than the U.S. which is tending to keep the "illegals" at home.

Some U.S. farmers are having difficulty finding pickers anymore.

Do you think that maybe they could get the unemployed gringos to work in the fields?

Licorice Schtick

Sure. The real reason for a fence on the border is to prevent an exodus of American workers to Mexico.


Re: "Sure."

Try to stay up on current events would ya?

"With Mexican economy improving, fewer cross the border"

The Big Dog's back

There ya go pooh. A job just for you, PICKER.


The only thing that I was against , was when I took a job at the Lear plant in Fremont and wasnt allowed in the union cause I hadnt been there long enough to join it and yet they still stole money from me to cover Union dues .I know that Unions can be a good thing , but at the same token they can drive work out of the country or close plants entirely .
You have to look at the plants in the Sandusky area that have closed that had unions , It makes me wander if everything was done threw the unions to aviod the plant closing , .
And I want to say one more thing , And that is , THAT A UNION IS ONLY AS STRONG AS THE MEMBERS IT REPRESENTS

The Big Dog's back

How about all the ones that closed that didn't have unions?


In the last 10 to 15 years, major stockholders have been driven to increase stock values and dividends. These people have rarely done manual labor. To them, anything not producing the highest production rate or costing more than they want to pay needs to go. It does not matter if its a union or nounion plant.

Boards of directors hire the most aggresive CEOs they can find to make more profits. Plant managers are hired with the same values. Salaried workers are pushed to increase productivity and take on more work as their co-workers are fired to reduce costs. As a result, hourly workers are treated the same. A work injury is is cause for alarm...not for concern of the worker or efforts to make a operation safer... but concern over lost production, increase in insurance costs and the state investigating plant safety. Workers, if listed as "days lost", cost the plant money. Companies now either fire the employee on "refusal to work" or sit a worker near the offices to do light work. Under Ford's ownership, I walked past an employee sitting an empty office puttin small parts together...she hade a leg cast from her ankle to her hip. I'll bet that felt good. He.., even Federal and State tax laws are written for companies to get write offs for closing a plant (either profitable or not) and to get tax breaks in the new communities where they build their plants.

I work at Ventra. We, the UAW workers, see the stress supervisors are under to keep their jobs. To understand how the company treats its workers, keep reading. Numerous employees arrive at their work area and equipment BEFORE offical start time. They are either arranging their supplies where they are easier to reach or start working at their jobs. They DO NOT get paid or acknowledged for doing this.

However, if they are not at their work area BEFORE the bells ring, they are written up. Other times, an empoleey will help a co-worker (in another department) push a 200 lb. container into place. Again, the salaried employees do not thank them, but threaten to write them up for them being out their work area. I am talking about three of five feet outside their work area!

To people agaisnt unions, look in the newspapers under employment opportunities. You will read job descriptions stating: "Must be able to lift 75 to 100 lbs repeatedly for 8 to 12 hour shift". And doctors wonder why there is a national increase in back injuries and workmens compensation cases. Don't believe me, then just count the number of workmens compensation lawyers who advertise on television. I called the Ohio State Department of Safety years ago (while working for another company in Erie County) to report a salaried employee was forced to run a machine with the safety guard broken off. The UAW union worker had the right to refuse doing this because of the union contract. The person at the DOS told me they needed my name because they needed it to file a complaint with the company and the company had the right to know who reported them. I was told I would possibly be fired, because there is NO state law protecting workers reporting unsfety working conditions. For those non-union workers who believe we are pampered and tell the company they will do what they want, then come by our guard house and fill out an application, especially you salaried people.

Oh, by the way, I worked as a salaried, middle management employee for more than 25 year and had my work load increased requiring me to work 12 to 19 hours a day, including weekends. While working for a Japanese plant for three years, I worked 7 days a week from January 2 to March 25 a minimum of 10 to 19 hours a day.

Unions do have wake up, help push legilation through right to strike without being replaced by temporary workers. Restrict "temporary employment" to 90 days. And to stop companies from moving either out of their current location to anywhere else. This is simple to do. Years ago, the Federal government required strip mines to return land to its original geography when they closed the mines. Do the same with all companies, unless they can show lack of land for expansion. Require the company to try to get another business to buy the plant, and for the next 9 years, companies would have to pay local taxes on a decling rate of 10% ayear. At this time, the company would be required to level their buildings and return the land to its original condition. Even in those cases, companies would be required to offer the first jobs to its former workers.

Just wanted to express some of my experiences and ideas to make this a country a better place for ALL workers.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Thank you for your point of view, it did a lot more to try and explain things than I have seen elsewhere. My only point of contention would be the (in my opinion) severe building restrictions offered at the end of the comment. While it would be an incentive to NOT leave it is also an incentive to not even build. On top of that any exception to the rule can be explained, whiddled, and cheesed up to meet the qualification of "lack of land". Plus, if a community doesn't have to compete to keep businesses we see a GOB atmosphere and lazy/abusive practices in the government.

looking around

Jak5Jon great cometary and one that should be chosen and reprinted in the printed version of the paper as many other comments from the digital blog are. The anti union folks just don't seem to understand that the American worker be it salaried or hourly are under attack. You make many excellent points and I personally thank you for taking the time to attempt to enlighten these people.


Re: "help push legilation (sp)..."

They read like great ways to effectively kill current and new business expansion.

Small business tends to be the generator of most new jobs in the U.S. and it is declining.


It is a real shame that this plant had to go by way of the union. It is also a shame that the employees never knew that the company was going to purchase property in Fort Wayne,In a few years back. Now that this has happened, the flood gates have now been opened and with the way business is today ,I am sure that the property will be looked over again. Good Luck with all that.


I am really surprised that this vote came out like it did. They all work in an "air conditioned" facility, clean, neat, this company does ALOT for their employees. They all make well over minimum wage. What they don't understand is that there is NOT one skilled trade in any of their jobs.

The main organizers are from the "Entitlement" generation, they want it all with less work. Many of these so call union supporters are people who came from plants that have closed due to union organization, you would think there would be a lesson learned here. There are many woman who work there because of the hours & they have small children. Do they realize that these part time positions will all probably be dissolved in order to create full time positions??? (The union will make more money off the full time) & They want "respect"? - you will not see that word in a union contract . That is something that has to be earned.
There is no management anywhere that is perfect & I would think the fact that this is a "privately owned & DEBT FREE" company would be enough so called job security in this day & age. Usually the ones who are yelling "Job Security" are the ones who have gotten themselves in a bad position due to attendance issues or their behavior.

I do hope Freudenberg NOK wins out in the final decision, but it would also be entertaining to see these employees follow a "contract" - it's in black & white... I can hear it now...

looking around

You think that air conditioning you speak of was installed to keep the employees comfortable....LOL, you are naive.

The Big Dogs ba...

Freudenberg...coming to a right to work state near you.

The Big Dog's back

Using my name again pooh?