Freudenberg employees hope union becomes official

Employees cite issues with management in decision to organize.
Aaron Krause
Aug 31, 2013


Employees of Freudenberg-NOK near Milan are hoping to officially form a union, arguing management has shown favoritism, disrespect and implemented an unfair disciplinary process, among other issues.

However, nine contested votes against forming a union stand in the way of the union becoming official.

The United Auto Workers (UAW) has challenged several "no" votes. Union officials contend temporary or salaried employees, who are prohibited from voting, cast the "no" ballots.

The matter will come down to a hearing before the National Labor Relations Board to determine whether the "no" votes are thrown out.

Melanie Jett, a material technician for six years, said the original vote was 103-97. Company officials were later able to prove one of the employees was eligible to vote, bringing the total to 103 in favor and 98 against.

While there's a waiting period, Jett said she's excited Freudenberg-NOK unofficially is unionized.

"It's not about money; it was about favoritism and equality in the plant," Jett said. "Everybody should be given a fair shot at a job."

Employee Devin Grosswiler, a material technician for 6 1/2 years, provided the Reflector with a list of reasons why he and fellow worker Chris Doerner decided to launch the process to form a union. They are: Unfair disciplinary process, no job security, no contract, no voice, high insurance cost, no partnership, segregated work meetings, no seniority rights, favoritism and disrespect.

Company officials provided a prepared statement after the Reflector informed them about the accusations.

"We can't speculate about the motivation behind this vote and do not know the basis for any speculation provided by others," said Lisa Bastian, vice president of human resources for Americas.

"However, we will continue to promote an environment based on the well-being of the associates, plant leadership and our business. Our global policies align with these principles, as well as our obligations under the National Labor Relations Act, and are the basis for all relations with our associates," she said.

Grosswiler said he and Doerner "decided that we had seen enough, so I called the UAW organizing department out of Michigan."

"They told me and Chris to put together a team of about five people to meet an organizer. The organizer came down and we met with him at my house and we then grew the committee to well over 45 workers and went public after we obtained enough support from fellow co-workers. Now we are here because of all of our co-workers who helped us achieve our goal," Grosswiler said.

"The company itself is a nice place to work," Jett said.

"It's not the friendliest" of an employee has an issue, she added.

According to its website, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies is one of 16 global subsidiaries of the Freudenberg Group.

"With its partners NOK Corporation, Japan, Sigma Freudenberg NOK, India and NOK-Freudenberg Group China, Freudenberg Sealing Technologies is a global organization that provides customers with high quality, custom-engineered products and processes that consistently meet exacting industry standard. With 45 locations around the world, we are wherever our customers are."




Won't be long and F-NOK employees might find themselves in the same situation as Janesville employees.


So by 4 votes the employees have caused a pay cut for all when the union dues start coming out and likely have also likely caused unemployment for them all when the plant closes within 3 years to relocate to choose one(Indiana, Mexico,overseas). They need to start practicing for the future: "You want fries with this"?

Estrella Damm

There are near 300 persons with manufacturing skills looking for work next year.


Exactly, which is why all of us need to do everything we can to encourage employers to stay here. Actions which encourage employers to leave are exceedingly stupid in this economy.


I ORDERED A PLAIN CHICKEN SANDWICH, NOT A CHEESE BURGER. ... Who's bright idea is this? LAZY UNION WORKERS. It's 2013 not 1920.. technology folks...

former local

So, union employees didn't use to be lazy?


Those of you criticize the Unions have any clue on how and why the Unions were formed? Unfair treatment of employees, hazard working conditions, low wages, no benefits, 12 hr work day, 6 days a week. WAKE UP AMERICA We are losing jobs because of the GREED of Corporate America. Oh by the way.. did you see where McDonald's workers want a raise also....


I think most of us are aware of why Unions were formed back in the day. Then America was an isolated country and didn't have to compete for jobs in the world marketplace. Companies have a legal duty to maximize income for their shareholders and find it necessary to relocate sometimes to fulfill that obligation. Look around your house - any american electronics there - check your car - any american made parts on it. The American economy is in huge trouble long term as far as manufacturing is concerned and while Unions are not the sole cause of the problem they are a huge part of it.

David Deerest.

Unions were formed long ago because of poor and unsafe working conditions. With OSHA and the Dept. of Agriculture, most unsafe and poor working conditions don't exist anymore. Most of the fault, IN MY OPINION, is your POTUS. The unions back him. He depends on the unions. Rich unions = happy POTUS.


rjr58...agree 100%. However on the reflector comment section you are wasting your time. Most of the people commenting have no idea what the unions do for the economy and are so jealous of them they bash them any chance they get.


I will tell you what Teamsters do for their people.They take your money and live like kings.If you have a grievance they will have a meeting and side with Mgr. so you won,t move Fanny Farmers,oh sorry,they went bankrupt!U.A.W better example they will got to Mexico or Canada or China or Europe .


Teamsters Local 20 was a joke.. They prevented us (FF) from striking years ago because they "didn't have enough money for us in the strike fund with pending UPS strike" ... Per B. Lee's (Local 20 rep.) scare tactic.

It sure as hell didn't stop them (Union) from having their convention in Vegas that year.

Also the big reason FF (which was clearly mis-managed on site for years) went down because the president and CEO of Medial, a Frenchman, Sadly was caught in an avalanche while skiing, I met him once, very nice man who was all gungho and willing to make FF business top priority and expand . Unfortunately, his widow did not concur with her husband's vision; she sold it to Archibold Corp.


Union dues cut into my money at Van Dresser in Norwalk for years. UAW just said goodbye and good luck!


Join a union, in 2 - 3 years you can add the company to the list of companies leaving the area. Foolish people


I have worked in none union shops and with union shops!the employees are the union!Companys like none union because they can do what they want! not what is fair!or just!when jobs come up you bid on them!good luck!