Members of the United Auto Workers 892 struck outside the Faurecia plant in Saline, shortly after midnight.
Union local President Larry Robinson declined to comment on negotiations or the workers demands, but workers, waving picket signs as they paced along Michigan Avenue, made their demands plain, as motorists honked their horns in support.
"More pay. Better wages. Better benefits. Clean bathrooms," was the chant by one striker.
Operators at the plant start at around $13 an hour and top out at $17.50. Around 3:30 a.m., UAW Region 1A Director Chuck Browning visited the picket line and said negotiators were working hard to get them the raise they deserved. Browning urged strikers to be strong. Browning and negotiators from the UAW and Faurecia engaged in negotations at Liberty School.
Another worker talked about the need for a safer work environment.
"We see hydraulic oil and grease on the floor. It's not safe. I don't even care about a raise. Just make the job safer," he said.
Several workers said they wanted Faurecia to be more forgiving on lateness and absenteeism.
There are an estimated 1,900 workers at the plant, which makes interior parts for the Ford F150, the Ford Mustang and vehicles manufactured by FCA and Tesla. It's unclear how many of the employees are members of the UAW.
The strikers marched under the watchful eye of the Saline Police Department.
"We don't have a dog in this fight. We're just make here to make sure everyone stays safe," Chief Jerrod Hart told the picketers.
The first few hours of the strike were incident-free. The most tense moment came when one of the strikers momentarily refused to allow a semi-truck to enter the Faurecia driveway. A Saline Police officer backed him off the the driveway.
Around 3:15 a.m. a source familiar with negotiations told The Saline Post a deal was close - but that the union was holding out for a better health care plan. Many workers were upset when the company switched from Blue Cross Blue Shield to Aetna insurance. The union hopes to negotiate a return to Blue Cross Blue Shield.