Auto Worker Unionization Effort Thwarted?
Workers at U.S. Farathane hoped to unionize against harsh conditions
In early January the Chronicle caught word of workers at the U.S. Farathane manufacturing plant (820 W. Howard) who were trying to unionize with the United Automobile Workers. In interviews, two employees requesting anonymity described harsh working conditions at the plant, notably scorching indoor temperatures in the summer, short lunch breaks, and a lack of sick leave. "When I say hot, the seat of my pants from sitting on the fork lift are soaked," said one. Both were eager to unionize, but noted challenges convincing co-workers to sign up due to fear of retaliation from management, who in veiled terms have told workers to ignore calls from UAW organizers. In addition, the company earlier this month announced an across-the-board pay increase, citing December's federal tax cuts.
Since the bump, however, the UAW has been impossible to reach. Beatriz Lopez, the communications specialist it had apparently contracted with, did not respond to interview requests. A woman answering the phone at the nearest UAW office in Dallas said, "We usually don't do interviews; have a good day," before hanging up. There was no response from the UAW's primary office in Detroit, either. Sources from various labor groups in town say the UAW has given up on the organizing drive. Says one: "They probably can't talk to you because the efforts have stopped."