Disgruntled Autoworkers #7
Your local could be next.
On a Monday morning in March my boss asked me if I would
like to attend a class. He didn't say, and I didn't ask,
what it was about. He said the group coordinator was supposed
to go, but he had to get an early out for personal reasons.
Thinking the class was for that day only, I told him I would
Within the first hour I was ready to walk out, because
the "Internationally appointed" instructor said,
"The UAW and GM have a mutual understanding that quality
is a joint issue." He went on to say, "We, the
UAW and GM, need to cooperate and work together to insure
that we build a quality product, because quality creates
Personally, I don't think quality is the Unions responsibility.
Although, I do agree that the UAW and GM need to work together
to build a quality product. I don't believe they have to
form a partnership to create a Joint Quality Network Program
in order to achieve quality.
I have a problem with the UAW International and Local Executive
Boards appointing everyone involved in the UAWGM Joint Programs
like Quality Network, without any input whatsoever from
the membership, because all of the appointees are selected
based on nepotism and favoritism, and that fosters resentment
among the membership. I also have a problem with GM having
veto power over the Unions' appointments.
The instructor said the class was for the whole week. I'd
do almost anything to get off the line, but I will not sit
through a week of brainwashing. I decided to bite my tongue
until I knew for sure what the class was about, and if he
continues to rant and rave about "UAWGM Cooperation
and Jointness," I'm out of here. I'm glad I kept silent,
because he didn't say another word about "Jointness."
I'm not sure, but I think he saw me shaking my head, or
maybe it was the fire brewing in my eyes. They'll give me
away every time.
The class was a, "Problem Solving Workshop."
It was about solving quality problems out on the shop floor;
like hood and door fit, electrical problems, and metal and
paint defects, etc. It taught you how to track the problem
to its source and correct it by using observations and people
contacts, while at the same time using forms, charts and
graphs to monitor your progress.
Like all classes of this nature, it had its boring moments,
but it also had interesting and thought provoking ones.
One such moment that motivated me to write this article
was about midweek when the class was divided into four groups.
Each group was assigned an assembly plant name, and plant
manager. We represented the Flint, Pontiac, Shreveport and
Baltimore assembly plants.
Each plant (group) was given a list of 18 Football Brain
Teasers and instructed to solve them. For example, the first
one was, $1.00 for Corn, which meant Buccaneers. Substitute
Buck for $1.00, and Ears for Corn, Buccaneers, etc. Our
designated plant manager appointed a member of the group
to visit another plant to find out if they solved a Brain
Teaser that our plant was having a problem with.
That's when it dawned on me; the Corporation has been doing
this for decades, and for good reason. If for example, Baltimore
is having problems with a particular assembly item, they
network with other plants to find out if they had similar
problems and if so, how did they correct it? An ingenious
solution that saves time, manpower and of course, money.
Then I started thinking, why isn't the UAW using this method
to improve working conditions and benefits nationwide? For
example, if Flint's local union negotiated and won better
Health Care coverage or improved working conditions for
its members, they should network what they did with other
locals so they can improve their benefits or working conditions
If the UAW used this method of networking, the membership
nationwide would be leaps and bounds ahead of where we are
now as far as our benefits and working conditions are concerned.
Instead we find ourselves in an ever-increasing downward
spiral that has us out conceding each other for Living Agreements
that are subject to change without our input or approval,
and little by little we are losing the very benefits and
working conditions that the forefathers of the UAW and our
Locals literally fought for.
Why? Because the UAW International Executive Board (IEB)
favors information blackout over networking. The IEB doesn't
want one local knowing about the affairs of another, especially
if it's not to their benefit. Like when they authorized
Local 2036 in Kentucky to strike Accuride, their wheel manufacturing
company in March of 1998, the IEB should have networked
with other locals and told them not to install Accuride's
wheels, because they were being made by scabs. If they had
networked, the strike would have been settled in weeks.
However, the IEB chose information blackout. They decided
not to tell members at the affected locals that they were
installing scab wheels, and their decision dragged the strike
out for almost four years. The IEB's failure to network
and thereby assist Local 2036 after authorizing them to
strike was a stab in the back.
The IEB is just as guilty as Accuride's Mgt for the demise of
Local 2036, if not more so, because of what they did and/or
didn't do. And being the cold-blooded heartless bastards
they are, the IEB twisted the knife in Local 2036's back
when they cut off strike benefits for the second time on
January 15, 2002.
Why did the IEB choose information blackout over networking
and kill Local 2036? Because networking means they would
have had to slow down or stop production at the assembly
plants that handle Accuride's scab wheels, and that would
have endangered the harmonious partnership they've developed
with the corporations. Besides, the IEB could care less
about a measly 450 workers at an Independent Parts Supplier
(IPS), because they're trying to recruit thousands of municipal
workers just a few miles away.
Brothers and sisters of the UAW, we have a problem. We
have Traitors in the UAW and they occupy Solidarity House.
If the IEB doesn't have a problem betraying an IPS like Accuride, you
need to ask yourself, is your Local next? It may be an IPS
today, but what about tomorrow? Allison Transmissions? American
Axle? And when their locals are busted, then who? GM, Ford,
and DC assembly plants? The Traitors don't care, because
they've got other plans for our UAW, like recruiting Hospital,
College and Municipal workers.
The corporations have been out to rid themselves of the
UAW since the 1930's when it infiltrated their plants and
effected their profit margin and production schedules. And
forming a partnership with the IEB in the early 1980's in
the name of "Jointness" gave them the perfect
opportunity to speed up the process.
While the IEB was preoccupied with all their new Joint
Programs and Policies and sucking up to Big Three executives on the golf
course, and buying Radio Networks, Airlines and Resorts,
the corporations were busy slashing and burning their way
through our locals at the rate of 35,000 members a year
for 20 years, without any resistance.
I say again; brothers and sisters of the UAW, we have a
problem. Unfortunately the problem solving class I'm in
hasn't covered anything about how to overthrow the Traitors
that occupy Solidarity House.
Incidentally, the instructor says that on Thursday and
Friday we'll be divided into two groups, and with clipboards
in hand; we're to go out on the shop floor and try to solve
the problem they assign us. Then it hit me like a brick
wall; my being selected for this class was a scam by the
GM/UAW Team to discredit me.
During the next break in the class, I told the instructor
my views on "Jointness," then I told him, "I
refuse to parade around the plant, and be a part of the
problem I've been complaining about in my Newsletters. I'm
out of here, now!" They're not going to make a hypocrite
out of me.
I participated in a demonstration at Solidarity House on
January 14, 2002 to protest the IEB's decision to cut off
Local 2036's strike benefits. It was my first demonstration,
but it felt more like a funeral. We were about to lose another
Local, and there was nothing we could do. It didn't have
to end like this. You could feel the anger in the atmosphere,
because we know who the perps are, and we know they're going
to get away with it.
The word on the street was the IEB was living it up in
the Palm Springs Resort they're bidding on with our dues
money, they must have known we were coming, the cowards.
I believe what goes around comes around, and sooner or later
they will get theirs. I will forever remember my first demonstration.
It was a sad day.
Although I have to admit, I was a little disappointed
in the number of people who showed up. There were about
200 of us from all over North America, and very little media
coverage. Considering that there are about 60,000 UAW represented
autoworkers within two hours drive of Detroit, 200 is a
drop in the bucket.
If we are to shed some serious light on the Traitors in
Solidarity House and what they are doing to our Union, we
need national media coverage, and that's going to require
thousands and thousands of demonstrators at the gates of
Solidarity House, not 200.
So become a union activist, visit and explore the UAW Solidarity
Coalitions (UAWSC) website at; http://devoted.to/uniondemocracy
and join the Email list. Knowledge is power. Educate your
coworkers by circulating some of the website's articles
and encourage them to become union activists, because there
is strength in numbers, and we need to desperately increase
our ranks if future demonstrations are to be successful.
Watch the UAWSC website for the date and time of the next
demonstration, because as long as the Traitors occupy Solidarity
House, there will be more. The UAW belongs to us, not the
Traitors, so please join us, and in the words of Billy Robinson,
help us, "Take Our Union Back." Your local could