Striking workers at the Clarios battery plant outside Toledo, Ohio, confront a multi-national corporation with a web of operations spanning the globe.
The 525 workers have been on strike since May 8 after massively rejecting a sellout deal brought back by the UAW, containing totally inadequate pay raises and not addressing intolerable levels of overtime and unsafe conditions. They regularly work 19 days in a row and 12 hours a shift at straight time. Workers have lost $10 an hour or more due to repeated cuts in piece rates. In addition, workers must get regularly tested for high levels of lead in their blood.
Milwaukee-based Clarios is the world’s largest manufacturer of automotive batteries. According to the firm’s website, the company produces “more than 150 million batteries—one-third of the industry’s output—every year.” It had a gross profit in 2022 of $1.6 billion.
The battery maker employs 16,000 people at operations at 56 facilities around the world, including Mexico, China, Germany, South Korea, Brazil and the US. It recently acquired Spanish battery recycler Metalúrgica de Medina. The company is reportedly joining with Natron Energy to manufacture what the partners said would be the world’s first mass-produced sodium ion batteries.
Its 18 US facilities include a lithium ion battery plant in Holland, Michigan, and manufacturing operations in Kernerville, North Carolina; San Antonio, Texas; St. Joseph, Missouri; Red Oak, Iowa and Florence, South Carolina. It also has a research center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Clarios closed a battery plant in Middletown, Delaware, in 2020, axing 230 jobs. The company said the move was aimed at “streamlining” its operations. The state had forked over millions of dollars in subsidies when the facility expanded in 2011. Earlier in the year the