Disgruntled Autoworker
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Disgruntled Autoworkers #14
June 2004

UAW International Co-manages Workforce

Baltimore's UAW Local 239 has held Union Meetings on a quarterly basis since June of 74. Since ratifying a Living Agreement in August of 99, and implementing weekly Small Work Group meetings, which are mock 30 minute union meetings that are held on company time, we've averaged only 2 meetings a year. If current trends continue and we don't have a quorum at this June's meeting, it will be a whole year between meetings.

I walked the shop floor and talked to a diverse group of my coworkers. I asked them why they don't attend union meetings. Their responses varied from family functions to an ill family member to their child's activities, like Little League or Soccer games. Or they themselves are busy with Church activities, attending a Major League game, events on TV, good weather, bad weather or whatever.

My response was, "We only have 4 meetings a year. Is it that much trouble to put aside one Sunday afternoon every three months to attend an hour and a half meeting? Or to attend just one meeting a year?" The majority responded indignantly, "Why? What good does it do? The Gobs (Good Ole Boy administration) are going to do whatever they want anyways."

They didn't have to say anymore, because I knew what they meant. The following facts will speak for themselves. Four years ago we complained to our local president about his selfishness. He said, "I'm the President and I can do what I want." Much to our surprise, we found that to be true when the majority of us petitioned the UAW International about him. Instead of reprimanding him like we expected, or reversing even one of his sell out decisions, the International promoted the Traitor to Regional Rep.

Then two years ago, acting on evidence provided by our newly elected president, a group of dissenters wrote the International to request an audit in relation to excessive expenditures for the UAW's Conventions. Auditors found that the majority of our local's Gobs and ex-Gobs misappropriated $19,000 of our local's funds. Our president rolled over, and with his help, they only had to pay back $5,000 of the $19,000, because the Gobs, appointees and their supporters dominated the union meeting that decided the outcome of the audit.

And last year 648 of us submitted a Demand to hold elections for all Local Jointly held Appointed Positions that foster blatant discrimination that the UAW and GM endorsed per our National Agreement 20 years ago. Our demand wasn't even considered because the Gobs said elections would be too costly. It wasn't too costly for them to misappropriate $19,000 of our local's funds though. Meanwhile the membership is out $14,000, enough to hold at least 2 elections.

From experience I can tell you that on the rare occasion when we do have a union meeting and a member raises an issue the Gobs don't want discussed, or if a member tries to clear themselves of bogus charges, chaos ensues. Chairs are kicked over, catcalls, innuendos and foul language is directed at the dissenters by the Gobs, appointees and their supporters, thereby discouraging other members from speaking up or attending.

The workplace is not exempt. Gob supporters recently harassed two dissenters on their jobs to the point of creating hostile situations. Instead of reprimanding everyone involved by moving them to different areas of the plant; Mgt singled out the dissenters and exiled them far away from the plant's population. One was even put on the street for a few days. The instigators, unscathed and jubilant with the outcome, are walking around like proud peacocks, looking for their next victim.

A few months ago an Executive Board member ran to Labor Relations and tried to have a member fired for exercising his right to Free Speech in his Newsletters. Despite overwhelming evidence, the jointly appointed E.E.O. Rep refused to acknowledge that the member was being discriminated against. It took intervention by the National Labor Relations Board to resolve this issue in the members favor.

And a Shop Committee member recently had a temper tantrum and ran to Mgt in an effort to have a member fired for violating a No Smoking rule. Fortunately the Boss is a smoker and he's aware that the area in question doesn't have a designated smoking area, however, it does have high ceilings, and its well ventilated and away from the general population. Therefore he overlooked the incident.

The potential was there for the smoker to be fired. She was lucky, this time. Filing charges against the Shop Committee member for conduct unbecoming a union official would be a waste of time, because the Gobs have succeeded in alienating the membership, and without their involvement, the Gobs will dominate every aspect of a hearing, the trial and its subsequent outcome like they did the Convention audit results.

Not only do we have to watch our backs with Mgt, we have to be on our guard for out of control Gobs and their supporters too. It's hard to argue with these facts that circulate throughout the plant like a wildfire as soon as they happen. My coworkers are right, "The Gobs are going to do whatever they want anyways." Especially when they know that the UAW's International Traitors and GM Mgt will intervene on their behalf and conspire with them to help them maintain their control over the membership.

We pay dues to be represented by those we elect, not to be co-managed by them. The word 'Union' means an organization of workers formed to advance its member's interest in respect to working conditions, wages and benefits. Not an organization of Gobs who use intimidation and manipulation, and knowingly violate UAW Ethical Practice Codes, to suppress a dissident movement that would otherwise advance the union's causes.

Our only option is to vote the Traitors out whenever possible. We thought we did just that in our last elections. Prior to the elections, due to the International's promotion of our Traitor president, we voted for 2 independent Board members, but they rolled over quicker than the mating cycle of a cicada. And later when we elected what we thought was an independent president, he deceived us and turned out to be a Traitor too.

All we can do is to keep voting them out. If that means shaking up our Executive Board every three years, then so be it. This is especially harmful to the president, because he needs 2 terms or 5 years to get locked into international pension benefits, on top of his corporate benefits. By denying treasonous president a second term, we can hit him where it hurts, his pocket.

According to Doc. 46 of the National Agreement, the President, Chairman, Plant Manager and Personnel Director, or Key 4, determine the placement of all local joint appointments. So if we vote out the president and not the chairman or vice versa, nothing will change, because 1 will be over ruled by the other 3.

To truly affect change and drive a wedge between the Gobs and Mgt, we must vote out both the president and chairman. With an independent president and chairman, they will be in a better position to make demands on Mgt and thereby shake up the discriminating appointments they shared with the previous Gobs.

The benefits to shaking up these 2 Key positions are enormous. Not only will both Gobs be ousted, their jointly appointed army and support base, the source of their power at union meetings and on the shop floor, won't be as effective once the new administration establishes itself. And hopefully, in time the membership will regain their respect for local leaders and begin attending union meetings again.

As for voting out the other Board members and Shop Committee members, that's a judgment call. Most of us know which ones to reelect, and which ones to dump. I know of 2 who will not be reelected for violating their oath of office when they ratted on fellow members. Then there are the convention thieves. All their names and what they've done will be circulated plant wide, especially if they decide to run for office again.

Shaking up our Local's Executive Board and Shop Committees won't solve all of our problems, but it's a place to start. A new independent local union administration is counterproductive in today's UAW with its joint partnership with the corporation. Therefore new leaders will face insurmountable challenges from the old Gobs and their supporters, not to mention corporate and local Mgt. And of course UAW Regional and International Traitors will be meddling in our affairs as well. They'll claim to have the memberships interest at heart, but we've learned the hard way that all they really care about is keeping the local's membership under control.

After all, co-managing the membership is what today's UAW International is all about. It's no longer about representing us or improving working conditions, wages and benefits like it was in our father's day. It's about assisting the corporation with eliminating workers without reducing the workload. It's about initiating Multi Tiered Wages in Delphi and Visteon parts plants, which are coming soon to our assembly plants in the name of competition. And it's about slashing health care and benefits nationwide, something UAW Appointed President Ron Gettelfinger promised he wouldn't do, but that's another story.

Until we can come up with a plan to permanently oust fork tongued UAW International Traitors, and restore some semblance of decency and pride back into being a union member, our only option is to use the power of elections to oust local Traitors. The UAW belongs to the membership, not to the 10% who are Liars, Conmen, Thieves, Rats and Traitors. When the time comes, vote to take it back.

In Solidarity,
Doug Hanscom
UAW Local 239 Baltimore

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