Production Continues at Johnson Truck Bodies Despite Strike
RICE LAKE, WI — Since April 7 when all 267 unionized employees walked off the job citing what their union leader called unfair labor practices, Johnson Truck Bodies management has been “100 percent focused on maintaining production, satisfying customers and re-building the workforce,” says Johnson vice president and general manager Ron Ricci.
“Our shipping rate for the last two weeks has been between 35 and 40 percent – with production supervisors and management level employees,” said Ricci. “Ideally, we’d like to get our guys back to work, but in the meantime we’ve started the process of hiring replacement workers in an effort to meet our customers’ demands.”
According to Ricci, there have been no concessions made when it comes to ensuring customers receive a quality product. "Our quality processes remain firmly in place as all of our inspectors and process engineers, who are part of our management team, continue to monitor both automated and off line manufacturing," says Ricci.
Ricci and Johnson Truck Bodies said they have also made a concerted effort to set the record straight regarding false statements made to the press by Teamsters representative David Reardon. Reardon accused Johnson Truck Bodies of unfair labor practices, namely moving senior workers to different jobs without negotiating. Ricci explained that Johnson moved one senior employee within the department and there was no other effect on his job, which is compliant with union requirements. This move was done in accordance with long-standing company policies – and it was not attached to union activity.
“In Johnson Truck Bodies 73-year history, we have never been found in violation of unfair labor practices. This is an accusation made by David Reardon – not a ruling. The ruling is expected to come from the National Labor Relations Board. And when it does, we believe it will reveal the truth and be consistent with our unblemished bargaining history.”
Reardon has also claimed that all microwaves, refrigerators and coffee pots were removed. According to Ricci, the plant’s lunch facilities still include microwaves, coffee makers, refrigerators and vending machines. The only items removed were personal appliances that were not OSHA approved for production floor use.
“Our customers and local businesses have expressed support for the company’s position which has helped keep morale high for Johnson Truck Bodies employees,” said Ricci. “This is a tough time for us and our community, but we’re doing all we can to negate or minimize any impact on customers and get back to normal as quickly as possible.”