Daikin union workers rally for better employee rights

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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) -- Demanding for better employee rights, Daikin union workers rallied together on Thursday in Verona.

"They're furloughing employees. The company came to us and asked to do a voluntary six week furlough," said Wesley Henshaw, who organized the rally. "We accepted that but now they're wanting to schedule us behind the 26 weekends and give up time with their family."

Henshaw is the president of UE Local 123 and said the company is going against contracts with mandatory overtime on the weekends.

"It's not that people don't want to work or you can't ask volunteers for overtime but to schedule people to take time out of their lives and their families is not right and unjust," said Henshaw.

The rally on Thursday came just three months after union workers held a similar rally in protest for better working conditions.

"You can hear the horns honking in the back ground of the support that we have out in our community," Henshaw said as he was standing at the rally. "We can't say enough about that."

WHSV reached out to Daikin officials and was provided this statement:

"Daikin Applied understands that in any company-union relationship there will be issues that need to be discussed and resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.That is why the collective bargaining agreement exists between Daikin Applied and United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America, Local 123.

Importantly, Daikin has honored its agreement with its employees.

-No Staunton employee has been required to work more than what is allowed in the CBA. The CBA allows for employees to be scheduled to work up to 26 weekends of overtime in a calendar year. That limit has not and will not be exceeded. An employee may voluntarily accept additional overtime.

-No Staunton employee has been forced to take a furlough under the current CBA. For several years, we’ve had a voluntary furlough program in place to account for short periods of time when production demand declines. As a result, furloughs under the current CBA have been voluntary and we believe that will continue to be the case.

-No Staunton employee has been furloughed, laid off or terminated as a result of the decision to consolidate a small part of operations from the Staunton facility to another Daikin facility, which already served as the primary location for that product line.

Daikin respects its employees’ right to express their opinions and disagreement with management and the collective bargaining agreement. While we feel it is important to set the record straight, we do not intend to engage in a public back and forth. Daikin Applied stands ready to discuss any issues of concern with Local 123 and will do so within the confines of the labor agreement and that process."

In the meantime, workers hope it can get better.

"I'm hoping that they take notice that we want them to abide by the contract. I'm hoping that they'll do away with the mandatory overtime and treat us with respect," said Daikin employee, Avery Bell.