Disgruntled Autoworkers #4
Open Letter to UAW President Yokich,
I'm not going to begin my letter with the traditional how
are you, because your response to certified letters I've
mailed to you in the past has taught me that you chose to
answer the simple questions while ignoring the more important
ones. You've also redirected one of my letters to VP Shoemaker,
who doesn't respond at all, or you tell me to see my own
local officials for answers.
If I thought I could get the answers to my questions from
Shoemaker I would have written to him, and forget about
my local officials, they've got their own agenda that doesn't
include the concerns of my fellow members and I. Meanwhile,
my questions in this letter are for you, the President of
I was surfing the UAW's website and I see from your biography
you like golf, hunting and fishing. I used to enjoy all
those activities too, but for some reason, I'm working a
lot harder than I used to and I'm experiencing aches and
pains I never had before. I haven't played golf in years,
but if I wanted too, I would need three days of rest so
I could play on the fourth.
I don't see bowling in your biography; I love bowling.
My average was 165, and I bowled over 200 a few times. I
may never bowl over 200 again though; in fact, I'm having
a hard time bowling a 135 nowadays. My wrist and back aren't
as strong as they used to be, and as a result, my game is
It's almost as if I'm handicapped. I can still do my job,
but with a lot of pain. Even after I pop my daily dose of
ibuprofen I have problems, because they don't seem to be
as strong as they used to. They work pretty well for my
back, shoulders and elbows, but they don't do a bit of good
for my wrist and hands, unless I double the dosage and I
don't want to do that.
Not all that long ago I was in what I considered to be
good shape and according to my coworkers they were too.
However, almost every day we line up at the water cooler
to take our daily dose of painkillers before the line starts.
We weren't like this a couple years ago. Every week we can't
help notice another one of our coworkers is out on medical
for one injury or another. We know our injuries are work
related, contrary to what the company wants to believe.
And without saying a word, that look of fear and anxiety
passes between us, a sort of knowing that any one of us
could be out on medical next.
Mr. Yokich, you must know what we're going through. Oh,
that's right, you never worked on the assembly line, you're
a tool and die man. Now I'm curious about our Vice-Presidents.
I was checking the UAW's website and I see Ms. Bunn's an
Attorney. Mr. Gettelfinger's a Repairman. Mr. Gooden, it
doesn't say, that's strange. Mr. King's an Electrician.
And then there's Mr. Shoemaker; he's been a union official
for thirty-eight of his forty-three years, wow. He needs
to get a life.
Damn, you guys are lucky. Even if Mr. Gooden did work the
line, I'll bet it wasn't for long. It's probably a safe
bet to say none of you worked the assembly line or did any
physical labor in a parts plant for at least thirty years.
As for Mr. Shoemaker, it's been thirty-eight years.
There-in lies the problem, Mr. Yokich, it's you and your
cronies negotiating contracts for hundreds of thousands
of Autoworkers when not one of you have a clue what it's
like to toil in the plants that are more and more resembling
the sweatshops we hear about in China.
I know, you were all elected by delegates, many of whom
are also clueless when it comes to knowing what's best for
the membership. Then there are the delegates who disagree
with you or the ones who want to make changes, they're ignored
and labeled commies, or they have the microphone turned
off on them at conventions while they're in the middle of
their prepared statements. As if that isn't enough, most
of you were appointed by your predecessors and then run
unopposed. Heaven forbid some commie chumps should challenge
you and the status quo.
That's something else I'm having a problem with Mr. Yokich,
and it's this business of being appointed by your predecessors.
If I'm not mistaken, and bear with me on this because I
want to get it right. The way I understand it is that most
of you were appointed to be the successor of someone who
was appointed to be the successor of someone who was appointed
to be the successor of someone and on down the line for
about the last twenty years; wow. Why is that Mr. Yokich?
According to this system, you and your cronies are clones
of clones of clones, etc, etc, etc...
You don't see anything wrong with this system? What happened
to the democratic process in the union Mr. Yokich? Your
challengers aren't the commie chumps Mr. Yokich. Excuse
me, but it's you and your cronies who are the chumps with
your one party communist dictatorship. The governing body
of the UAW is no better than that of China or Cuba. Which
explains why we're working as hard as those poor kids in
the Nike and Disney factories in China.
Mr. Yokich, the average age of the autoworker is forty-eight
years old. At the rate you, your cronies and your corporate
golf buddies are working us there's no way in hell we'll
be able to enjoy our retirement. We've dedicated the best
years of our lives to the corporations and paid our hard
earned dues to the UAW. We should be taking it easy as we
approach retirement. Instead we're working harder now than
we have in our entire careers and our bodies are our proof,
and it's you and your cronies who are responsible.
I could understand if we were being overworked to save
the corporations money and they were using the money to
invest in our plants, but they're not. They're using the
money to invest in third world countries so they can move
our jobs there or they're using the money to eliminate jobs
here through out sourcing or modular build, and you know
this Mr. Yokich. Yet you continue to assist the corporations
in putting the membership through hell while you and your
cronies live in the lap of luxury.
No wonder the majority of the membership is upset with
the leadership of the UAW. Locals nationwide are reaching
out to Solidarity House for help only to find that nobody
there gives a damn. Then there are those of us who stand
alone between our companies and our corrupt local officials
with no one to fight for us, and as a result many are afraid
to speak their minds or sign petitions for fear of retaliation.
Mr. Yokich, it is you and your predecessors who are responsible
for this fear, and the disrespect we have for our leaders
locally and especially at the International. No wonder the
pride we once had in the union is a thin shadow of it's
I hope you're proud of yourselves, you and your cronies
have set the UAW and the labor movement in the auto industry
back thirty years. I don't know how any of you can consider
yourselves leaders of the UAW when not one of you were elected
by the membership, those of us who toil in the sweatshops
that you and your cronies have created. If we were allowed
to vote, we wouldn't be at the mercy of the corporations
like we are now, and you wouldn't be sitting in your Ivory
Tower either. You and your kind would have been dumped years
If Walter Ruther were alive today and saw what has become
of the UAW's hierarchy he would fire every damn last one
of you. You and your predecessors have brought shame to
the leadership of the UAW. All of you are nothing more than
corporate clones, discarding members by the thousands over
the years like your corporate brothers discard used cardboard
Mr. Yokich, I'm no genius, but every time I try to figure
out what I think is wrong with the UAW, I always come to
the same conclusion, you, Mr. Yokich, and your one party
communist dictatorship, and your predecessors over the last
twenty years are the problem. No matter how you slice it,
it always comes back to corruption in Solidarity House,
right to its very foundation.
I wonder if you and your cronies have any problems sleeping.
I hope you have nightmares knowing what you've done to the
membership, because I know you don't care that I wake up
all hours of the night with pain throughout my body. Mr.
Yokich, I blame you for the way I feel, I'm only 48, but
I feel 80. I see your 65 and I'll bet you don't need three
days of rest so you can play golf on the fourth. I need
six more years to get my pension, but I have a feeling the
next six are going to seem longer than the last twenty-four,
thanks to you and your cronies.
Mr. Yokich, there is something you can do to correct these
problems and it's a very simple solution; initiate one member/one
vote like the Teamsters. We the membership deserve to have
a voice in electing who we want to lead us into the new
millennium, and you can bet your humidor we know more about
what's best for us than you do. For starters, there would
be no more appointing your own successors.
Thanks to you and your cronies, what was once a decent
place to work has now become one of loathing and despair.
For the average autoworker there is no more dignity or pride
in working for the automotive industry, now it's just a
job that sucks. While there may still be a sliver of pride
left in being a member of the union, there is no pride left
for the leadership of the UAW and many of its locals, only
I've sent you four certified letters recently and you've
skirted your responsibilities by passing the majority of
them off to others. So do me a favor and answer one of the
four questions in this letter yourself, or am I correct
to assume that selling out the membership keeps you so busy
that you can't find the time to respond? Damn it.
UAW Local 239, Baltimore
Authors note; I mailed this certified letter to Yokich
on 04.02.01; Yokich, his staff and/or others failed to respond
in the usual 30-day period, as was the pattern with past-certified
letters. My own answer to the forth question must be correct.
Yokich can't respond, because he's is too busy selling out
the membership while entertaining corporate CEO's on his
new $6 million dollar golf course. There is an alternative
to the dictatorship. It's the newly formed UAW Solidarity
Coalition. Visit their new website at, http://hawk.addr.com/uawsc/members.htm
Explore this website, read some of the horror stories by
fellow UAW members from across the country and decide for
yourself if an alternative to the dictatorship is needed.