A tribute to our Yanfeng members
Hello all! I’d like to use my space this month to thank a group of Union Brothers and Sisters for their hard work, loyalty, and unionism. This group, now known as Yanfeng Automotive Interiors, previously Johnson Controls and before that, Plastech, have been a part of Local 652 since 2008. Near the beginning of 2017 the members of Yanfeng received the news that their plant was being closed in spite of being the top plant in many of the company’s metrics.
It was totally unexpected, and when the Local was notified of the closing the UAW attempted to intervene. Local 652 former President Mike Green, International Servicing Rep Jeff Beegle, and Yanfeng Bargaining Chairman Mike Pattison went to great lengths to find work to keep the plant operating.
In concert with the plant’s management team, work was identified and a list was given to corporate management. Their answer? Yes, they would gladly take all the work we could find, but it would NOT be done at the Lansing plant. Instead it would be distributed to other Yanfeng plants that were remaining open. This is a bitter reminder that this industry is a callous business and as such, it’s driven by money and profit.
What I can’t understand is a decision that seems to be illogical. The Lansing site was tops in the corporation. They were #1 in profit margin, quality, throughput, scrap reduction, everything—and still they are closing it. Seems unusual until you notice that Yanfeng had previously (July 2016) closed their #2 plant located in Whitby, Ontario.
I guess this should be a warning to the other plants in the corporation. Don’t be a top-level plant or you will be closed! That’s a hell of a corporate strategy, isn’t it?
The real shame in this is the Brothers and Sisters in the plant who are some of the best union people you could hope to be around. They have stood together from their first Agreement through their most recent.
They have acted professionally throughout this difficult time, continuing to perform their duties to the best of their abilities, continuing to produce quality parts right to the end. I’m proud that UAW Local 652 has the privilege of representing this group.
From Plastech to JCIM to YFAI you’ve been an example for all of us. I thank you for your service, your patience, and most of all your membership in this Union and I wish you all the best.
–Your friend in Solidarity, Bob Smith