Disgruntled Autoworker
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Disgruntled Autoworkers #4
March 2001

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 the UAW.

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 off.

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 former self.

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 ago.

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 containers.

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 shame.

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.

In Solidarity,
Doug Hanscom
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.

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