UAW strikes key Stellantis supplier ZF in Michigan

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the entire plant work force went on strike. Only a “small fraction” of workers participated in the strike, a company spokesman said.

Employees at global supplier ZF Friedrichshafen’s plant in Marysville, Mich., went on strike Thursday after the UAW said the company backed out of an agreement to recognize the employees’ intentions to join the union.

ZF disagreed, saying it did not renege on what is known as a neutrality agreement. Production is continuing at the plant, a ZF spokesman said.

About 340 employees work at the location, but it’s unclear how many people are actually on strike. The ZF spokesman said only a “small fraction” of the workforce is participating in the strike.

The plant is a key supplier to Stellantis and produces rear beam axles and axle drive units.

According to a news release from the UAW, a number of ZF employees at the plant have been indicating they want to join the union while current UAW Stellantis members working at the plant “move to other Stellantis locations.”

The UAW says a majority of the ZF workers in question signed up to join. It says ZF did not accept that voluntary recognition.

“It is unconscionable that the company would choose to put workers through delay tactics and efforts to avoid the union when a majority of their employees have agreed to it,” UAW Region 1 Director James Harris said in a statement. “ZF must cease these union-busting tactics and honor their workforces’ wishes by recognizing the employees right to bargain at this site which has been a union shop.”

ZF pushed back against the idea that it “reneged” on a neutrality agreement to recognize a majority sign-up.

“That’s completely an inaccurate statement,” Anthony Sapienza, ZF’s head of communications in North America, told Automotive News via email.

Sapienza confirmed some employees are demonstrating at the plant and told Automotive News “production continues uninterrupted.”

“As we have over the past several months, ZF will continue to engage in discussions with the UAW on a fair process that allows employees to decide whether they wish to have the UAW represent them,” the company said in a statement provided by Sapienza.