Disgruntled Autoworkers #10
Bogus Union Meetings
The consequences of our Living Agreement vary; not only
is it non-expiring, it threw seniority out the window by
eliminating dozens of classifications, and it increased
our workload. It also combined several Skilled Trades classifications.
And the most troublesome of all is the creation of over
a hundred Small Work Groups.
Each SWG has a coordinator and they are required to attend
weekly meetings with management where they're given a list
of topics that are to be discussed at that weeks SWG meeting.
Everyone's presence is mandatory and failure to attend will
result in disciplinary action.
We began our meetings almost 3-years ago and management
dictates the topics they want us to discuss, like Health
and Safety, Quality, Production, Cost, etc. All of these
topics have become repetitive, because they've been beating
us on the head with these issues during the 30-minute weekly
meetings, and again for 30 more minutes during the end of
the month Safety meetings.
We also have a mandatory 2 and a half hour welcome back
meeting after the Christmas and New Years shut-down, and
another hour or more welcome back meeting after the July
4th Summer Shutdown. Then there is the State of the Business
meeting every Spring that can last 2 hours or more.
The majority of these meetings begin the same way. First
they want us to recite their Safety Absolutes; "Safety is
the overriding priority, All accidents can and must be prevented",
and, "In GM-Baltimore, we recognize and acknowledge that
Safety is a shared responsibility."
Then they want us to recite their Quality Absolutes; "Not
passing on a defect to the next work station is my RESPONSIBILITY,
It is the responsibility of the TEAM to use the right processes,
systems, methods and tools to produce Quality in station",
and, "Insuring the Quality of our product we deliver to our
costumers is a leadership responsibility."
Not many of us recite their Absolutes, but with each monthly
meeting you can't help notice that there is a growing number
of our coworkers who've become automatons. They drone along
with management and their union Lackey who is conducting the meeting,
oblivious that they are even doing it.
Sitting among us is management and our Union's Good Ole
Boy's Jointly Appointed Suck-ups. You can tell who they
are by the phony enthusiasm with which they recite management's
Absolutes. They make you so sick you want to run away before
they infect you too.
There is something else that these captive audience meetings
have in common besides the usual boring issues. They love
to serve us a portion of alphabet soup sprinkled with a
mind numbing numeric spice. Their Lackey begins by saying,
"We set a goal of 85% for our FTQ DRR, but you only
achieved a DRR of 60%. And you failed to meet our FTQ DRL
goal of 92% by a whopping 30%. We know you can do better.
Therefore, until you do, we'll hold on to these Die Cast
Models of our Mini Van we promised you for Christmas."
After the holidays, they must have had a change of heart,
because they gave us a sweatshirt with their new slogans
on it, "Together, on The Road to Tomorrow," and
"Building our house brick by brick." The shirt
is nice, but what are they going to do with all the Toy
Vans they promised us?
When they snatched the Toys away at the last minute like
they did, we came to the conclusion that someone in management
is a few bricks shy of a load, because they're purposely
setting us up to fail by overloading our jobs and then setting
unattainable goals. Some of us have decided to wear their
shirts inside out as a form of protest.
They finally decided to give us the Toy Vans on April 3rd.
Apparently we met their goals. But, being true to form,
they attached a condition to them. In order to get your
"Made in China Van", you must go to the Facilitators Office
on your own time and sign for them. I will not grovel for
something that the Plant Manager said would be delivered
to the SWG meeting by the facilitators, nor will I sign
Anyway, management's Lackey continues to drone on, "The
Baltimore GMVM Plant is falling behind the rest of the country
on quality. We must increase our FTQ DRR by 25% and decrease
our FTQ DRL by 30%, and we must meet our Health and Safety
Objectives set forth by the MMC if we are to be competitive."
Furthermore, "You will not chat, sleep, read the paper,
or talk on your cell phone during these meetings, or you
will be disciplined." Sometimes this crap feels like
it goes on forever, because these numbers and letters are
just a small sampling of what they throw at us, and they
expect us to understand or even care about what they're
talking about. Consult your Jointly Appointed Maximo Rep
to decipher this recipe for Gobble de Gook stew.
Then they make us watch film after film about their Absolutes
and other topics. A particular film that comes to mind is
one that someone in management shot during their vacation.
It was set in a Fish Market where the employees were having
a good time entertaining shoppers by joking with them and
each other while throwing fish around the store. The basis
of the film was to showcase the positive attitudes of the
Apparently our Plant Manager is so unhappy with our attitudes
that he decided to stop production a few days later to show
the film a second time on the Plant's TVs. The man who shot
the film, introduced it, and we believe if the camera had
pulled back, it would've reveled he had a gun to his head,
because he showed signs of stress and his enthusiasm wasn't
into showing it again.
And not long ago Management sent everyone letters saying,
"You were not hired as part time help, so you will
come to work every day." Their letter offended the
majority of us, because we do come to work everyday, in
spite of the fact they are trying to work us to death. Which
is the main reason they have an attendance problem in the
first place, duh!
Yes, we have bad attitudes. Management gave them to us.
And no, we weren't hired as part time help and we weren't
hired to be CPA's either. We could care less what their
letters and numbers mean. We were hired to assemble quality
vehicles to the best of our ability, and we go home confident
that we did a good job.
Management's last Quality Absolute states that quality
is a "leadership responsibility." So I believe
that if we don't meet their DRR's, DRL's, or whatever goals
they set, it's nobody's fault but theirs. Therefore, they
can take their die cast Chinese made Vans and convoy them "Together,
on the road to where the Sun don't shine."
The sad fact of the matter is we believe management is
using all these meetings to brainwash us into thinking that
should Quality turn to crap, it's our fault. Or should we
be injured on the job, that too is our fault, because we
were warned to be on the look out for carpel tunnel syndrome
symptoms, slippery floors and fork trucks. And their Jointly
Appointed Quality, and Health and Safety Reps would back
them up 100%.
The SWG meetings are supposed to be the result of a Joint
UAW-GM agreement, however, the Unions involvement is limited
to visits by Jointly Appointed Facilitators, most of whom
are management wannabes who will rat you out in a heartbeat
while looking for ways to eliminate your job. And they want
us to rat each other out too. We despise the facilators and they're
not welcomed visitors. So in reality, there is no Union
And here is the most troublesome part; management is making
a mockery of our Union by having us conduct the SWG meetings
like Union meetings. We have a leader, an agenda, a Recording
Secretary to record the minutes of the meetings, old and
new business, and then the meeting is adjourned. The only
thing missing is the Pledge of Allegiance, but management
probably figures reciting their Safety and Quality Absolutes
If Union members were disillusioned with Union meetings
before the Living Agreement, they're definitely dead set
against them now. I mean, why attend a legitimate monthly 2-hour
Union meeting when we are forced to attend 3-hours of management's
bogus Union meetings every month and countless hours of brainwashing
sessions a year?
These meetings are more about management exercising their
dominance and control over the membership through propaganda
and brainwashing than they are about Quality and Safety.
I don't know how our International and Local Union Officials
can live with themselves for allowing management to Dishonor
and Disrespect the Union and the Membership like they do.
UAW President Select Gettelfinger and the rest of the UAW's
Appointed Traitors, past and present, should be stripped
of their positions and privileges for collaborating with
the enemy on the Joint Programs, and for Living Agreements
that rob the membership of their seniority rights and the
right to determine their own destinies.
You can fight back by taking advantage of one of your few
remaining rights as a UAW member. The right to dissent.
Stop complaining to each other about how bad things are
and write to Gettelfinger, VP Shoemaker, or any one of the
UAW's Appointed Traitors at 8000 E. Jefferson Ave. Detroit,
Even if you think it's a waste of time, give them a piece
of your mind anyway. Write about any of the above topics,
or your recent loss of benefits, or anything else that's
bothering you, or simply send this letter. We need to let
them know that the ranks of dissention are growing in the
UAW, because sooner or later, they will have to deal with
us. Fight back! Fight back! Fight back!
UAW Local 239 Baltimore