JACKSON COUNTY, MI – Hail, lightening and rain hasn’t stopped employees on strike at manufacturers in Jackson and Calhoun counties, who are asking to keep their pension and days off for doctor visits.

Nineteen employees at Miller Tool & Die in Jackson have been on strike since Sept. 17, and 35 employees at Albion Casters have been on strike since Sept. 25. Striking workers are all part of International Association of Machinists Local 435.

Both factories have employees outside 24/7, through rain, hail, wind and low overnight temperatures. It’s the first strike in more than 28 years for both.

“It’s been cold, and it’s been wet,” Local 435 President Jamie Miller said Friday, Oct. 2. Miller is an employee at Miller Tool & Die and has no affiliation with the company owners.

Employees go on strike at Jackson factory: ‘We want our pension’

Employees at Albion Casters, 800 N. Clark St., worked throughout the shutdown at the start of the coronavirus pandemic because they were deemed essential workers, employee Benjamin Speer said. They received a $2-an-hour hazard pay raise until July, but it’s unclear why that stopped since the pandemic is ongoing, Speer said.

“After being told we were critical, essential workers, it was a kick in the gut,” employee Don Collins said.

During negotiations, Albion Casters owner, Colson Group USA, wanted to cut the number of unpaid days for doctor’s visits from four to two and mandate overtime on Saturdays and possibly holidays, Speer said. That would mean employees work 56 hours a week instead of 48.

Colson Group USA did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reducing the number of unpaid days employees can take for doctor’s visits doesn’t make sense, especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Collins said. He said management told employees they needed to

TOKYO, Oct 1 (Reuters)Japan’s factory activity posted its longest streak of declines on record in September, a private sector survey showed on Thursday, highlighting the struggle policymakers face to put the coronavirus-ravaged economy on a firm recovery path.

The health crisis has taken a huge toll on the manufacturing sector in the world’s third-largest economy, with output and exports struggling amid fragile global demand conditions.

The final au Jibun Bank Japan Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) edged up to 47.7 in September from the previous month’s 47.2 and a preliminary 47.3 reading.

The headline index stayed below the 50.0 threshold that separates contraction from expansion for a 17th month – surpassing a 16-month run through June 2009 to mark the longest streak of declines on record.

The survey showed output, new orders and work backlog contracted again, although at a more modest pace, suggesting it may take a long time for Japan’s economy to fully recover from the massive impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

However, the PMI survey also provided encouraging evidence of the manufacturing sector moving a step closer to stabilisation in September.

“Subdued business conditions persisted across the Japanese manufacturing sector in September, but there were signs that the downturn has lost intensity,” said Tim Moore, economics director at IHS Markit.

“Some manufacturers noted that a turnaround in export sales to clients elsewhere in Asia had helped to offset some of the demand weakness across Europe and the United States.”

The survey boosted hopes of a long-term recovery in production volumes, with growth expectations for the year ahead rising to the highest since May 2018.

Japan’s economy suffered its worst postwar contraction in the second quarter as the health crisis delivered a heavy blow to international trade, while also paralysing business and consumer activity at home.