The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Saline Workers Take a Break!

Mar 19, 2018

For over a year, 2000 auto parts workers in Saline, Michigan had worked almost non-stop. Working 12 hours a day and 7 days a week was mandatory. Workers would get attendance “points” for missing work. After too many points, workers were fired.

Faurecia, the French automotive supplier, owns the Saline plant. They supply Ford Motor Company with interior parts.

In January of 2018, the company launched a new A-B-C work schedule. Workers would now have to work “only” four days a week, 12 hours a day.

But after the change to a 4-day work week, a computer glitch caused a huge mess. The attendance tracking system was still programmed for a 7-day work week! Many workers were wrongfully getting attendance “points” for working their 4-day schedule!

Because so many were hit by this computer error, the UAW negotiated with the company to roll back all attendance points to zero. The company wanted this deal kept secret, but a photo of the agreement leaked out. Workers spread the information.

Knowing that their points would soon be rolled back to zero, workers started massively calling in sick and not coming to work!

One day, 600 workers did not show up. Another day, 400 workers did not show up. The bosses begged, but workers would NOT come in. They knew their points would be rolled back to zero. Finally, they had a chance to rest!

Without these workers, the company could not get out production of instrument panels to supply some Ford plants. At first, the company had executives and office workers go to Saline to work production. That did not work!

Next, workers at supply chain factories were invited to work at Saline for extra pay. They got time-and-a-half pay and double pay on Sunday. The company provided pay for their travel or arranged bus transportation and even Uber rides.

Saline workers saw an opportunity open up to enjoy a much needed rest and they went for it. Being allowed to feel human for a few days was more important to them than missing a few days’ pay.

In the future, Saline workers might find they can solve all kinds of workplace problems by continuing to act together!