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.



German: Kraft durch Freude – “strength through joy”


HUGE MISTAKE!!! I'll give it 3 years and then out. That is how long it will take for the honeymoon to wear off. Then it will be Tsbaki all over again! You saw what the union did there.......NOTHING!!! And all those Kool-aid drinking union employees LOST THEIR JOBS!!!! Have you people not learned anything yet? The union just wants pure numbers to take your money and deposit it into their pockets, NOT YOURS!!! And when it's all over and you are out of a job because you decided to listen to some union rep when he said to strike.........don't come crying to us! You made your bed, now sleep in it! Oh, by the way, you just took a pay CUT due to your union dues! REAL SMART!!!


The Big Dog's back

Sounds like you have 1st hand experience in being lazy.


That's funny because your wife surely doesn't think I'm lazy!


Obama will save the plant and maybe give them a phone


“Proletarier aller Länder, vereinigt euch!”


A neighbor lost his union Ford UAW job when they closed the plant. He went to South Carolina, now works for BMW, makes the same amount considering he doesn't pay union dues and loves the climate.

The Big Dog's back

Good for him.

looking around

Does he have a defined pension program and health benefits? And what tier wage was he on before he left? Lets compare apples to apples here.


Too bad. There's a very good reason union membership is dramatically declining! I hope I'm wrong about the eventual effect of unionizing in Milan, but I'll bet your first unemployment check I'm not...


Unions can be good, if the have kept up and changed with the times. If they haven't and stayed back in the 20's or 30's... not so much. The union I was a member of, you could be laid off or fired for not being able to run the machine you were called out for, were late, were slow, almost any reason. What the union did for the member was collectively bargain for wages and benefits,but the individual could negotiate for a bonus if he was good, anywhere from 5% up, most I got was 15%. They took care of the apprenticeship, continuing education, certification, insurance, pension, and so forth. They COULDN'T use dues for donating to political candidates or parties. If you wanted to bundle a donnation for that you had to write a seperate check.

That is the way a union changes with the times and stays relevant. They didn't stay locked into what they did 70 years ago and resist change that the members wanted. Trade unions seem to change more and easier than say the UAW which seems to stay locked away in the 30's.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

THIS! THANK YOU! A million internets to you, grumpy.

Good 2 B Me

Amazing that so many people just want to bash these people. Let them celebrate the victory. If it turns out bad, they voted for it. If it turns out good, they voted for it. Either way, it was the desire of the majority. Let them bask in the glory of their win. The sad part is that management drove them to this position. Many long term employees were involved in this process. It was not taken lightly or on a whim. This is quite a process.


I'm sorry, there is no victory here.

Good 2 B Me

How do you know that? Are you a member of management that will be losing their job because they drove the employees to this point?

Good 2 B Me

I cannot imagine that you are sorry, otherwise you would be rooting for this to work out instead of being Debbie Downer!

Kottage Kat

Don't most work 4 hours? ? This will be fun to watch play out.


Wait Kottage kat. You stated you live in a trailer. You stated you had medical issues. Have your non-union employer help you. How'd your life play live alone too.

Kottage Kat

Right on all counts
And your point being??

The Big Dog's back

What good did non union employers do for you after all you done for them?


Paid him for the work he did.

The Big Dog's back



Do you ever do more than mouth inanities?

The Big Dog's back



Kat my point is seeing families make their way because of jobs that share fairly with the employees. No help needed from govt. either. Sadly those situations are rare nowadays. (If you are honest you knew a better time when you grew up)

Kottage Kat

U R right I did.


Saw both sides if the union growing up. Saw men abusing their titles to demean the workers. Trying to make the workers do unsafe job practices.The union put a stop to it. But I also saw workers take advantage. People who should've been fired kept on time after time. Workers sabotaging machines to get off early because they knew if they got caught the union would take care of them. Making big wages when they didn't deserve them. The unions have a place. They really do. But they got out of control.

The Big Dog's back

Funny, the union places I worked for fired people who sabotage machines with the union's blessing. Nobody wants to work with people like that. And since there are very few union jobs where do these saboteurs work now?

2cents's picture

So true about the sabotage. an engineer friend told me how a guy was shutting down a line so he could sit on his arse all night. He would press a reset button on one motor and it would throw the whole line out of synchronization and no sensors could have predicted this. All was good until they were watching the line like hawks, and they fired him on the spot. A few months later he was back to work with all his back pay because the union fought for him. He boasted, thanks for the paid vacation to his boss! Small plant on 101 just south of the Sandusky city limits : )

The Big Dog's back

The company had to let him back. Or if an arbitrator ruled on this, someone's fibbing here. The union cannot force the company to take him back.


As I stated, growing up (over40) I saw this so most of the saboteurs are retired. Surprisingly, people do go along when this happens as they leave with pay also.


That is great. Nobody likes to stand in the unemployment line by themselves and now they will have plenty of company when they shutter this plant in two years or less. Dont forget, last one out turn off the lights!


You Tell them Contango, agree 100 percent.

Wa Tu Lo

Last one out turn off the lights. Last one out will probably be the CEO and he will step into his limo and laugh all the way to the bank with his $20,000,000 bonus check. The best job going these day is a person with a captains licence. He will be the captain of the boat bringing all the junk from China to the United States. Keep buying all that junk from them and soon we (United States) won't have enough manufacturing to make a bullet.

Like the person said earlier, if the company is making money, it's good management, if they are loosing money it's the unions fault. WAKE UP PEOPLE. Do you realize that in the big cities 4 of 5 people are at the poverty level. Is that the unions fault that these companies are moving overseas or is it just plain greed. You people that blame unions are the same people that are salary workers. You work sixty hours a week and get paid for forty. If you feel that is just, keep doing it.


Congratulations to the workers. They have EVERY right to vote in a Union; however, do not complain if the plant closes as Fruedenberg has EVERY right to elect not to run a unionized facility.

Good 2 B Me

Dead on! A calculated risk. They would rather chance losing their jobs instead of continuing to be bullied at work. It is a risk, but it could be well worth it! Time will tell.


I've been in a union for 13 years. Most of my coworkers have more years than myself. One has 42 years because he loves his job. Our pay is much better than when I worked for a non union company doing the same thing. I can do well for my family and have been blessed with a nest egg; not to mention a pension worth more than $350,000 to $400,000 dollars after 30 years versus nothing retiring for non union companies. If God blesses me to work that long I'll have a brighter future. Krogers for instance are unionized. Walmarts aren't. Krogers pays 17 dollars and hour to bake. Walmart pays 8. Krogers retires you with pensions worth 6 figures. Walmart.....absolutely nothing.


Re: "I've been in a union for 13 years."

I'm sincerely glad to hear that you're doing well.

Only question regarding the pension:

Defined benefit plans are dropping like flies. Hopefully you're contributing to your defined contribution (401(k)) plan.

I ONLY trust that which I can control.

A saying I use in business:

It's not that I don't trust you; I'm just trying to keep you honest.

Over my lifetime I've belonged to four unions. All were sh*t except the last one that I joined voluntarily.


In other news, A local employer will have to repay 2 yrs worth of overtime wages to approx. 250 employees after they were forced to stand around for 15 min. daily unpaid after their 8 hr shift for "passing information to the next shift" This is in response to a Dep't of Labor ruling against the company. This would not have happened in a union shop.

The Big Dog's back

Good for them.


This is kind of a no-brainer. An employer cannot make an hourly employee work for no pay. Being forced to stay around to fill in the next shift would count as work.

2cents's picture

Stupid employer, you are required to keep time clock records. That was a loosing situation waiting to happen.


I truly wish these people a lot of luck but fro my past experience, Sandusky Foundy & Machine, old habits will be very hard to break. Unions at this level have shown a huge tendency to force companies to close or move. They are competing in a huge market.
I don't know their exact products but if this contributes to an increased price you can be sure that other companies have done the research and are waiting to take away the business. It takes time to re-tool but it is a very competive business.


yes the Union Bashers are alive once again.

A quick Google search of CEO and COO salaries tells the story--enormous jumps in salary even at financially trouble companies for the same CEO making poor decisions.

Remember Union bashers---It's not a matter of union employees making toooo much money, it's a matter of the employees at McDonalds, etc. not making enough.

JudgeMeNot's picture

Without low paying McDonalds employees, union workers would go hungry.


overseas get ready for a new business...Low information people just sent you some more jobs

JudgeMeNot's picture

10-4. It wont be long till Freudenberg-NOK moves all its manufacturing operations outside the U.S.


OMG...I am actually agreeing with paved pair of dice!


dont you understand that when people invest money and get nothing back they quit doing ignorant


Santa Claus is once a year.