Disgruntled Autoworkers #13
Fear of Retaliation in the UAW
Being a Dissident and voicing an opinion, be it verbally
or through a Newsletter, can be very harmful to your career
if you're not careful. According to Webster's Dictionary,
a dissident is one who disagrees with an established political
system or organization.
In my case it's the UAW's one party established political
system that's been in power for over 25 years. If familiarity
breeds contempt, you'd have to look pretty hard to find
a more contemptuous bunch than Appointed Officials of the
established political system that rules the UAW and its
I wasn't aware of how corrupt the system is until it took
money out of my pocket and put it in the pocket of a supporter.
Complaining to the system's Reps is like talking to a wall.
Instead of cutting my losses and fading back into the woodwork,
I decided to retaliate by writing a Newsletter that would
inform my coworkers of just how corrupt the system is.
That was 4 years and many Newsletters ago. If I learned
anything, it's that retaliation is a double-edged sword.
If a particular Newsletter offended one of the local Good
Ole Boy (Gob) politicians, or was too critical of their
established political system, they'd retaliate by circulating
their own newsletter of lies, which they don't have the
decency to sign.
Unlike them, I sign my Newsletters and I take pride in
knowing I've put them on the defense. Since my first Newsletter
the Gobs have been retaliating, and trying to discredit
me. In the last year alone I had a tire slashed on the plant's parking lot,
my friends and I were ridiculed at a Union Meeting and in the Locals official
Newsletter. And officials disrespect me when I visit the Union
Hall on official business. All I can say is, I must be doing
something right for them to be giving me all this negative
It wouldn't be so bad if it was just the Gobs retaliating, but managements (mgt) been getting involved
too. My Newsletters have influenced the memberships perception
of the established political system and in doing so I've
influenced elections. Mgt is retaliating because
they don't want any additional changes to the established
political system anymore than the Gobs do.
In the last year mgt attached my check twice for unknown
reasons. I had to go out of my way to correct the problem.
And twice I was called down to Labor Relations for voicing
my opinion. The first time resulted in a reprimand that
I knew the Gobs were going to sit on. I believe the reprimand
was the first step in mgt and the Gobs effort to build a
case against me. So I went to the NLRB and filed a discrimination
charge against mgt. They dropped the reprimand and the Gobs
tried to take credit for it.
Before I circulate my Newsletters, I go over them with
a fine toothcomb to make sure I don't offend anybody who
doesn't deserve it. So when I wrote in December's Newsletter,
"The Recording Secretary rolled over before she was
sworn in," I didn't think anymore of it until I was
called down to Labor Relations for the second time. Apparently
the Recording Secretary was offended. Instead of setting
an example and utilizing internal union remedies to deal
with her concerns, she ran to management.
Everyone in my Local, America and the free world knows
"Rolled over" is a political term for breaking
campaign promises. Yet they expected me to believe the Recording
Secretary is dumb enough to think it was a sexual remark.
I asked if I could record their staged inquisition. They
refused and denied my accusations that they had something
The Labor Rep asked, "What do you mean by rolled over?"
I said, "She rolled over like our newly elected President
and VP." The Labor Rep, whose ego is as big as all
out doors, asked me again in a much too friendly voice,
"But what do you mean by rolled over?" It was
the tone of her voice that told me she was trying to coerce
me into saying that rolled over was a sexual term. If I
had fallen into her trap, I would have been fired on the
spot for violating UAW-GM policy prohibiting sexual harassment.
With my union reps dummied up on both sides, I said, "When
the Recording Secretary ran for office, she was as determined
as the rest of us to shake up the local's established political
system. I was campaigning for her when she asked me to be
a challenger. Days before the election, she changed her
mind, because she said she had more challengers than she needed. I found
out from her best friend that the Shop Chairman sent her
a stern warning, "If you have Hanscom as a challenger,
you'll never be accepted by this administration." Wanting
to be accepted by the Gobs, she dropped me like a hot potato.
And after observing her performance in union meetings, her
now ex-best friend, my new friend and I agreed that she's
rolled over." I relished the disappointed look on their
faces as I left the inquisition grinning from ear to ear.
I'm not cocky and I don't believe for a second that they'll
back off, because I know they'll try again.
Whenever I find myself in a situation where the Gobs or
mgt retaliate against me for bogus reasons or threaten my
career for exercising my right to free speech, I'll call
people I've met in the UAW Solidarity Coalition http://hawk.addr.com/uawsc/index.htm
or New Democracy http://www.newdemocracyworld.org
and ask for their opinion or advice.
One opinion was, "Her going to management and trying
to get you fired is proof that she rolled over." I
couldn't agree more. I was advised to file Article 32 charges
against the Recording Secretary for violating the UAW Constitution's
Ethical Practices Codes by complaining to mgt about a fellow
The Gobs ignore the Constitution, so I did too. I bypassed
the local and filed Art. 32 charges with UAW International
Appointed President Gettelfinger. One of his Flunkies responded
that despite the Gobs hostile behavior in the Union Hall,
and the slander in the Locals official Newsletter, I must
first file charges at the local level. I guess the Constitution
applies only to the membership.
Since becoming Partners in 84, GM and the UAW's International
Executive Board (IEB) created a Loyal Army of Appointed
Flunkies (LAAFs) whose main function is to attend union
meetings and spread lies and rumors throughout our plants
in a whispering campaign designed to deliberately cause
resentment and distrust within the ranks, thus discouraging
solidarity while promoting controllable GOB democracies
in our locals.
And for 20 years they've collectively conditioned the membership
into believing that resistance will result in retaliation.
From personal experience I've found that when I write a
grievance against a boss for working the line, I'd be harass
and put on an undesirable job while he keeps working. Members
see mgt retaliating against coworkers and they don't want
to get involved, because of the Gobs failure to prosecute
Members have become so accustomed to retaliation that they
won't raise their hand or speak up out of fear of being
noticed. They'll voice their discontent anonymously, like
voting Traitors out of office, but they won't write a grievance
against a boss for violating the contract, because, like
the bosses, they've learned over the years that grievances
are just paper to be used in the outhouse.
And 648 of them will put their names on a demand that would
break up the LAAFs, but not even a *
1/4 of them followed through by turning out to vote the contract
down when the demand wasn't included. And try as I might,
I can't seem to motivate the membership enough to get
more of them to attend meetings where the majority
of those in attendance are Gobs and their LAAFs.
Therein lies my dilemma. Gettelfinger knows it and he's
rubbing it in my face by kicking my charge back to the local
level. He knows that filing local charges against a Gob
would be a lost cause and a waste of time and energy, because
our Local Unions have been intentionally compromised by
an appointee system based on nepotism and favoritism, making
it next to impossible to form a fair and impartial Trial
Even if I took my chances in the local Gob's kangaroo court,
and lost, and then I appealed to the UAW International Public
Review Board (PRB). The likely hood of a fair and impartial
hearing with the PRB is slim to none, because Board members
are appointed by the IEB. And like the LAAFs, they too are
loyal to those who appointed them, not a dissident who challenges
their established political system.
It's for these reasons that I will not waste my time filing
local charges against the Recording Secretary, but I will
continue to inform my coworkers about the corrupt system
she chose to be a member of. The most I can hope for is
to humiliate her and the system's Gobs by educating the
membership so they'll retaliate by voting the despicable
Traitors out in the next elections.
And despite hostilities, I will continue to voice my opinion
in my Newsletters. Retaliation by the Gobs and mgt will
not sway me; I am stronger than they know. After all, I
didn't choose to be a dissident; the UAW and its corrupt
self-perpetuating established political system made me one.
The sad reality is the Union's membership is allowing the
Gobs and mgt to use their fear of retaliation as a tool
to control them. If they don't snap out of their fearful
stupor soon and take back control, the last vestiges of
unionism will disappear into the vortex.
UAW Local 239 Baltimore
*According to the Gobs ratification