York's Johnson Controls employees on strike

David Weissman
York Dispatch
In hope of gaining a new contract, from front, Jeremiah Arevalo, of Dover,  Lance Pickering, of Gettysburg, Elijah Zeigler, of York Township, and UAW Vice President Jared Byerts stand outside the Grantley Road entrance to Johnson Controls in Spring Garden Township, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Dennis Wolfe, who has worked at the same facility for 47 years, stood out in the rain Tuesday morning on strike for something he had already received after a previous strike.

Wolfe and three of his fellow Johnson Controls employees were outside the company's facility off South Richland Avenue in Spring Garden Township holding signs protesting unfair labor practices.

The strike officially began after midnight on Sunday, Aug. 27, but Curt Ross, in his 10th year at the company, said it mentally felt like they've been on strike much longer.

More than 160 employees, all members of United Auto Workers Local 1872, are on strike seeking a new labor contract after the last deal expired July 28, according to Wolfe.

Ross said employees have been seeking fair labor terms from company officials since 2006, a year after Johnson Controls purchased York International, which had owned the facility.

Wolfe said this is the third time he's been on strike but the first since Johnson Controls took ownership of the facility.

In hope of gaining a new contract, union employees, from left, Dennis Wolfe, of East Berlin, Dave Welsh, of Dover, Scott Berkebile, of Red Lion, and Curtis Ross, of West York, represent the UAW Local 1872 as they stand outside the South Richland Avenue entrance to Johnson Controls in Spring Garden Township, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2017. Dawn J. Sagert photo

One of the victories from Wolfe's previous strikes was getting rid of mandatory overtime, but mandatory overtime is now back, and he's hoping this latest strike removes the practice for good.

Ross said there's no need for mandatory overtime because most employees volunteer to work overtime, but making it mandatory prevents some from working as much as they want and forces others who don't want overtime to work extra.

"So many people are willing to work, so why force it?" he said.

Scott Berkebile, in his sixth year at the company, said his primary issue is that the company won't give the workers details about their health insurance plan.

All of the men said they're hoping for the contract dispute to be resolved as quickly as possible, but they want to make sure they understand all the details.

Johnson Controls issued a statement saying its policy is not to comment on ongoing labor negotiations.

The statement added that the strike has no impact on any of its other facilities, and the company does not anticipate any negative effects on customers.

"We look forward to a quick resolution and getting employees back to work as quickly as possible," the statement reads.

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.