COLUMBUS — In 2017, U.S. Rep. Mike Turner took sides with Fuyao against Ohio workers who were trying to organize, but today a federal agency is investigating the Chinese-owned company for illegally suppressing unionization efforts at their Moraine plant.
“Three years later it’s obvious that the Ohio workers who were fighting for a union at Fuyao were right — the company was interfering in their right to organize, and Mike Turner decided to back a Chinese company rather than siding with the workers,” said Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper. “Turner likes to mention he grew up in a ‘union household,’ but he had a choice to make, and he chose to stand with union-busters. Now that the truth is out and a federal investigation has been launched, it’s time for voters to hold Mike Turner accountable for his defense of Fuyao.”
Federal and state officials are reacting to possibly illegal treatment of workers in a Chinese-owned factory in the Dayton area that was exposed in the Academy Award-winning documentary “American Factory.”
The National Labor Relations Board has opened an investigation in response to sequences in the film in which Chinese officials with Fuyao Glass America appear to discuss firing American workers for trying to unionize — a likely violation of the National Labor Relations Act.
Also, JobsOhio, Ohio’s publicly funded economic developer, disowned a statement it issued celebrating the 2017 defeat of an attempt by the United Auto Workers to organize workers in the Moraine plant, which previously had been used by General Motors. And Gov. Mike DeWine might consider action against Fuyao — the recipient of almost $10 million in state tax subsidies — depending on the outcome of the federal investigation.>
In the wake of the November 2017 defeat of the union drive, JobsOhio issued a document that seemed to crow about it. It said that as a startup, Fuyao was “vulnerable” to organization and that the UAW “benefited from the significant cultural and communications gap between many Chinese workers and the (Fuyao) workforce.”
In its press release, JobsOhio praised Fuyao’s “proactive approach in meeting with and listening to employees as the vote neared. (Fuyao) engaged in a fact-based campaign to educate employees on the reality of union representation and debunked the fiction that an outside party could better represent the best interests of employees than could a direct relationship with the company.”
The document was titled “Ohio Success: Fuyao Glass America Inc.”
JobsOhio spokesman Matt Englehart said in an email that the press release, which was published over a 2018 copyright, “is a draft that should not have been posted to our website. We do not endorse the language that was posted and will remove the content.”
Joining Turner in standing with Fuyao and against the organizing effort were a number of state lawmakers, led by state Rep. Niraj Antani and including state Sen. Peggy Lehner, former state Sen. Bill Beagle, state Rep. Bill Dean, state Rep. Candice Keller, state Rep. George Lang, state Sen. Kristina Roegner, former state Rep. Marilyn Slaby, former state Rep. Ron Young, former state Rep. Wesley Goodman, former state Rep. Andy Thompson, state Rep. Derek Merrin, state Rep. Craig Riedel, former state Rep. Ryan Smith, state Rep. Dick Stein