Disgruntled Autoworker # 24 December 05'
GM Retirees, Fight for Benefits, Steps I & II
On October 18, 2005 the UAW’s lawyers asked a federal judge to approve its deal with GM to cut health care for 500,000 retirees, spouses and dependents. They went before the judge with a hand full of carefully selected retirees who claimed to speak for retirees all across the country. No doubt they were ex-union officials, ex-appointees and the usual assortment of ex-do-nothings that we’ve seen around our plants the last 20-years.
According to an article in the Detroit Free Press, “Legal experts immediately suggested that UAW Leaders took such an unusual step to keep disgruntled retirees from challenging the union’s right to negotiate concessions and tying the deal up in years of litigation.”
“They’re worried about being sued by retirees for changing benefits,” said Brian Johnson, a lawyer and auto industry expert who advises investors for Sanford Bernstein. “They’re seeking to make sure they don’t,” Johnson added.
The bottom line is UAW Leaders filed the suit to get the courts permission to represent retirees, and to stop retirees from preventing them from giving concession to GM. When an autoworker retires, it’s with the understanding that they are locked into the rate they retire at, however, if successful, the UAW’s actions will set a precedence that will open the door to future retiree concessions, not only for GM, but for Ford and DaimlerChrysler autoworkers as well.
As many of you know, Leroy Henry McKnight, who served as recording secretary for UAW Local 1753 in Lansing before retiring in 2000, filed a lawsuit December 12th in U.S. District Court in Detroit that challenges the authority of GM and the UAW to reduce health care benefits for retirees.
McKnight’s lawyer, Mark Baumkel, believes GM and the UAW overstepped their bounds with the deal. “As a factual matter, the UAW does not represent retirees. They represent existing workers. You can’t just eliminate retiree benefits just because you’d like to,” Baumkel said in a Detroit Free Press article.
The UAW’s leaders have been in a concessionary mode with the corporations for way to long, and it’s the membership that has paid in the loss of a million members, multi-tiered wages, and a continuing decline in benefits. But to side with the corporations and assist them with stealing retirees hard-earned benefits is an all-new low that must be stopped dead in its tracks.
On December 22, 2005 the presiding judge, Robert H. Cleland, granted a preliminary approval of the GM/UAW deal and said, “Any member of the Class who does not file a written objection as this Notice Specifies shall be deemed to have waived his or her objection(s) and shall be forever barred and precluded from making any objection to the fairness or adequacy of the proposed Settlement Agreement.”
Procedurally it is difficult for Mr. McKnight’s lawyer to petition GM retirees to submit Objection Forms to the court, but we can. A retiree, who joined McKnight and others to challenge the GM/UAW deal, contacted me and asked for our help. Therefore, on behalf of GM retirees, spouses and dependents, and future GM autoworker retirees nationwide, I am asking for your help with an issue that will affect us all.
With the majority of us retiring in the next few years, we can’t afford to let the Traitors in Solidarity House screw retirees too, or we will be next. It would be in all of our interest to contact every GM retiree, spouse and dependent who disagrees with the UAW’s actions and have them send the following Objection Form to Judge Cleland, and cc copies to the three individuals listed, before the February 13, 2006 deadline.
After they’ve completed the Objection Form and mailed it first class to all 4 recipients, please have them take a few minutes to complete the following self explanatory Declaration Form and send it by Fax, E-mail or first class to the law firm listed, in care of Attorney Mark S. Baumkel, by the same deadline.
This may be the five most important letters they mail in their lives, so on behalf of retirees, spouses and dependents, and active autoworkers nationwide, please have retirees respond As Soon As Possible.
In Solidarity, Doug Hanscom
PS: Copies of Objection and Declaration Forms available in Microsoft Word Document by request.
STEP I - OBJECTION FORM
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MICHIGAN
INTERNATIONAL UNION, UAW, et al
GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION,
Case No.: 05-73991
Objections to Proposed Settlement Agreement.
The undersigned GM/UAW hourly retiree objects to 12/22/05 proposed settlement reducing retiree health care benefits.
X______________________(signature—print name and address below line, and fill in date, and mail before 2/13/06 to addresses as set forth below)
City, State, Zip_______________________________
Signed this _____ day of _____________, 200__
Send before 2/13/06 by FIRST CLASS U.S. Mail to:
Clerk of the Court
United States District Court for Eastern
District of Michigan, Southern Division
Theodore Levin United States Courthouse
231 W. Lafayette Blvd.
Detroit, Michigan 48226.
Also send a copy to each of the following: postmarked by February 13, 2006:
1705 Allegheny Building
429 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Michael F. Saggau
International Union UAW
8000 East Jefferson Ave.
Detroit, Michigan 48214
General Motors Corp.
300 Renaissance Center
Detroit, Michigan 48236.
STEP II - DECLARATION FORM
INTERNATIONAL UNION, UNITED AUTOMOBILE, AEROSPACE, AND AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT WORKERS OF AMERICA; and EARL L. HENRY, BONNIE J. LAURIA, RAYMOND B. BAILEY, THEODORE J. GENCO, MARVIN C. MARLOW, CHARLES R. MILLER, and LAVERNE M. SORIANO on behalf of themselves and all other persons similarly situated,
GENERAL MOTORS CORPORATION,
Case No.: 05-73991
Hon. Robert E. Cleland
Magistrate Virginia M. Morgan
DECLARATION OF ___________________________
Print Your Name Here
- I make this Declaration as to facts as to which I could testify of my own personal knowledge.
- I am ____years old.
- I am a GM/UAW hourly retiree.
- During my employment with GM I was a member of UAW Local _______ in the City of ________________, State of ___________________.
- Through the media and word of mouth I have learned of the settlement agreement negotiated by the UAW and GM which reduces my lifetime vested retirement health care benefits and the similar health care benefits of other hourly retirees which I and other retirees worked a lifetime to earn, which would harm the benefits of retirees, like me, whose pensions exceed $8,000 per year.
- In no way do I approve of that settlement, and emphatically do not consent to the UAW, or the current proposed individual class representatives, representing me for the purpose of that settlement.
- I have learned about and wholeheartedly approve of the effort by Mr. McKnight and his attorneys to resist that settlement.
- In my conversations with other retirees I have been left with the clear impression that my views on this matter as described above are typical of the views held by GM hourly retirees, and that retirees who approve of this settlement are not typical of most retirees.
- I have not been solicited by attorneys for Mr. McKnight to sign this declaration, and do so entirely of my own free will because of my strong feelings about this matter.
I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct. Executed on this _____day of ____________, 200__.
Sign Name Here X_________________________________
Provizer & Phillips, P.C.
% Mark S. Baumkel
30200 Telegraph Road, Suite 200
Bingham Farms, MI 48025
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
PSS: Copies of Objection and Declaration Forms available in Microsoft Word Document by request.
In Solidarity, Doug Hanscom