Report: Ohio Court Orders Limited UAW Picketing

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky

A little over a week ago, a few hundred workers went on strike at the Clarios battery plant in Holland, Ohio, over failed labor negotiations. While picketing is standard practice for UAW members dissatisfied with their contracts, the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas issued the restraining order on Friday to prevent striking workers from disrupting business operations and creating an allegedly unsafe environment.

Disrupting operations is essentially the whole point of having a strike and the situation in Ohio seems to be a far cry from the violent labor disputes that emerged following the Civil War. For several decades, ending in the 1930s, it was relatively common to see disgruntled laborers going head-to-head with industry leaders, scabs, and the police until the matter was settled with an improved contract or the U.S. government having deployed troops to quell the unrest.

The Clarios plant employs roughly 650 people and is responsible for manufacturing up to 150,000 batteries per week for automakers like Ford and General Motors. Workers took to the picket line after voting down a contract proposal that would have reduced overtime pay — a matter that had been under negotiations since April 19th.

Whereas the old contract had workers becoming eligible for time-and-a-half pay for anything over eight hours a day, the current proposal had straight extended to 12 hours a day. While other items had also been on the table, it’s the matter of overtime that has gotten stuck in the union’s craw and ultimately encouraged members to strike the plant for the first time since it opened in 1982.

According to Automotive News, the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas had actually issued a temporary restraining order last Thursday and then expanded it after Friday’s hearing.

From Automotive News:

Court documents show Clarios presented evidence of a UAW picket laying on the pavement in front of the plant as evidence of dangerous activity.
The restraining order prevents pickets from congregating in groups of more than five within 100 feet of any plant entrance. Pickets may not be on Clarios' property or approach within five feet of vehicles entering or exiting the plant. Pickets may not in any way obstruct the plant entrances and must remain upright and standing, the order says.

"We're still optimistic that we can reach an agreement. However, while the dispute is ongoing it is critically important that everyone maintain professionalism both on-site and on the picket line — even more so given the emotions which are always in play in any labor dispute. For that reason, we are grateful the court took the action it did for the company, our employees and the community," a Clarios spokesperson said.

Negotiations between the UAW’s bargaining team and the company are scheduled to resume Today. Union leadership has said employees already give their daily lives to the company and deserve fair compensation in exchange, previously noting that contract negotiations had become more difficult in recent years.

Meanwhile, Clarios has implemented a contingency plan it believes will allow for “limited operations,” adding that the business will “continue to evaluate how to best support our customers.”

[Image: Ringo Chiu/Shutterstock]

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Matt Posky
Matt Posky

A staunch consumer advocate tracking industry trends and regulation. Before joining TTAC, Matt spent a decade working for marketing and research firms based in NYC. Clients included several of the world’s largest automakers, global tire brands, and aftermarket part suppliers. Dissatisfied with the corporate world and resentful of having to wear suits everyday, he pivoted to writing about cars. Since then, that man has become an ardent supporter of the right-to-repair movement, been interviewed on the auto industry by national radio broadcasts, driven more rental cars than anyone ever should, participated in amateur rallying events, and received the requisite minimum training as sanctioned by the SCCA. Handy with a wrench, Matt grew up surrounded by Detroit auto workers and managed to get a pizza delivery job before he was legally eligible. He later found himself driving box trucks through Manhattan, guaranteeing future sympathy for actual truckers. He continues to conduct research pertaining to the automotive sector as an independent contractor and has since moved back to his native Michigan, closer to where the cars are born. A contrarian, Matt claims to prefer understeer — stating that front and all-wheel drive vehicles cater best to his driving style.

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    If I make a sign that says "Life is Not Fair," will anyone give me anything?

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