Disgruntled Autoworker # 25 January 06'
United States District Court for Eastern
District of Michigan, Southern Division
Theodore Levin United States Courthouse
231 W. Lafayette Blvd.
Detroit, Michigan 48226
RE: Amicus Brief for Civil Action Case No. 05-73991; Inherent Flaws
Honorable Judge Cleland & Clerk of the Court, January 21, 2006
After reviewing the “Settlement Agreement” between General Motors Corporation and International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), dated 12.16.05, and “A Message to UAW General Motors Retirees from the UAW and Class Counsel in UAW & HENRY ET AL. v. GM,” dated 12.22.05, I find both documents are inherently flawed in that they neglect to mention crucial financial data that should be considered before any decisions are made that reduce health care benefits of the Retiree Class.
And that is the fact that for the last twenty years GM has been closing assembly plants all across the country, and in 1999 GM sold or spun off several of its parts plants to form what is now known as Delphi Corporation, which is conspicuously in bankruptcy. While closing assembly plants and divesting itself of the parts industry, GM has been heavily investing in automotive manufacturing in Mexico, Australia, Africa and Europe. And GM’s 2005 worldwide sales were at their highest in 27 years because of growth in Latin America and Asia. GM also has joint ventures with Toyota, Suzuki, and Subaru to name a few.
Then there is the fact that GM created GMAC, the banking conglomerate that’s into Home, Auto, RV and Educational Financing, and Ditech.com, the home mortgage company. GM also had plenty of cash on hand to purchase the Hummer and Segway People Mover. GM also bought Hughes Aircraft and stripped it of its Satellite System to create its own GPS OnStar and XM Radio Satellite Systems. And GM is also in the Credit Card and Insurance Business.
Therefore, it should be noted that all of the aforementioned lucrative businesses, joint ventures and products, which GM purchased or created were made off the blood and sweat of the majority of those same Class members whose benefits are being targeted. If not for the physical labors of the Retiree and Active Class, GM would not be the multi-faceted conglomerate it is today.
The UAW International’s failure to demand that GM include all of the aforementioned investments when reviewing GM’s financial status is an indication that the UAW International is complicit in GM’s efforts to reduce Retiree Class benefits, and therefore is not representing the best interest of the Retiree Class, but that of GM’s Auto Industry.
Furthermore, during the 12.22.05 hearing when you granted a preliminary approval of the “UAW/GM Settlement Agreement,” you 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.”
Sir, this statement is also inherently flawed in that it requires the Objecting Class to notify not only the U.S. District Court and Law Firm of Stember Feinstein, but to also notify the UAW International and GM Corporation. As most members of the Classes throughout the auto industry will testify, since the UAW International formed Joint Partnerships with the Big 3 Corporations over 20-years ago, retaliation against Class members who speak out against the Partnerships and its programs and policies will be swift and severe. And more often than not, the Partners will conspire to collectively retaliate to silence dissention.
Therefore, the majority of the members of the Objecting Class will be intimidated by the Courts demand to notify the UAW International and GM, because should the Court rule in favor of the “UAW/GM Settlement Agreement,” they fear that their names may be red flagged at the UAW International and GM. Which in turn may affect the timeliness or accuracy of their pension checks and benefit payments, and the fairness, honesty and speed in which their UAW Representatives correct said problems.
While the above scenario may sound like extreme paranoia, fear of retaliation and retribution is a very real possibility given the fact that GM Corporate and Company Management and UAW International and Local Representatives have a history of individually and collectively disciplining outspoken Class members, thereby sending the message throughout the industry that dissention will not be tolerated.
To corroborate this statement, I cite the ever-increasing use of the Internet by both the Retiree and Active Class members (uawndm.org and futureoftheunion.com) disgruntled with the UAW International’s perverse obsession with the Corporation’s bottom line. As everyone knows, GM’s financial problems in the auto industry are a result of managements lack of imagination in product design, innovation in full cell technology and it’s inability to forecast market trends, and not it’s legacy cost, which is limited to union member’s wages, benefits and pensions, and not the excessive salaries and perks of incompetent executives.
Therefore, to help eliminate the threat and fear of retaliation, the Retiree Class should only have to notify the U.S. District Court and Law Firm of Stember Feinstein. And the time limit to do so should be extended to allow the Active Class more time to notify the Retiree Class of the gross distortion of GM’s financial status by the UAW/GM Partners, and what steps they need to take to stop the misdirected assault on their benefits by the UAW International and GM.
It should also be noted that the UAW International and GM have access to the 500,000 retirees, spouses and dependents addresses, which makes it virtually impossible for the Active Class to notify all of the affected Classes, which is a huge disadvantage, and therefore another inherent flaw that stacks the deck in favor of the UAW/GM Settlement Agreement, and against that of the Objecting Class. Therefore, the Active Class should also have access to retirees, spouses and dependents addresses.
Furthermore, since the Partnerships, efforts to democratically challenge UAW International and Local incumbent administrations have been met with stiff resistance, especially at the International level, which has been in power for over 70 years. And the UAW International and GM have a track record of interfering in Local affairs whenever a local administration is successfully unseated.
All of which has instilled in the Retiree and Active Classes that any efforts to reform the UAW are in vain, be it democratically, or through the ratification of contracts, or objecting to the current Settlement Agreement. The Classes have been conditioned to believe that no matter what they do, GM and the UAW are going to do whatever they want. Another inherent flaw designed to undermine Class resistance.
And finally, there are two remaining inherent flaws; one is the hiring of the Law Firm of Stember Feinstein, which also represented Bethlehem Steelworkers, who ended up losing their pensions. This Firm is not the ideal choice to represent GM Retiree Class interest and thereby not very encouraging. And the other is that the Settlement Agreement and the UAW International’s Message to GM Retirees are too detailed and complicated for most retirees to understand, which limits their ability to make an informed choice, that is if their eyesight and attention span are up to par when reading said documents.
In summation, it is blatantly obvious to even the most uninformed autoworker that the above inherent flaws were deceitfully and maliciously devised and implemented by the UAW and GM to dominate the Classes, and to reduce Retiree Class benefits with minimal resistance. And by all appearances, the Court is complicit as well when it granted a preliminary approval of the UAW/GM Settlement Agreement without considering GM’s overall financial status, and the intricacies of the 20 year UAW/GM Joint Partnership.
Therefore, based on the above misrepresentation of GM’s financial status by the UAW/GM Partners in the Settlement Agreement and by the UAW in its Message to Retirees, and the atmosphere of retaliation and paranoia instilled in the Classes by the UAW/GM Partners, and to avoid the appearance of complicity, I ask that the Court demands that the UAW and GM abandon Their Settlement Agreement that wrongfully and illegally reduces the vested benefits of the Retiree Class.
Respectfully, Doug Hanscom
cc: Stember Feinstein, International UAW, General Motors Corp., Provizer & Phillips, Editors of the Detroit Free Press, Chicago Tribune & Washington Times, and UAW Membership via the Internet.