Disgruntled Autoworker # 29 May 06'
Jobs Bank Update
The Baltimore Assembly truck plant’s official closing date was May 13, 2005. According to the Shop Chairman’s report at the March 12, 2006 info meeting, we haven’t had a union meeting in over a year due to the lack of a quorum; there are currently 452 members in jobs bank status. About 115 members are residing in the jobs bank; the remaining 337 are volunteering in the community, voluntary lay-off, or going to school. About 500 have retired, transferred, or taken the buy-out-off since the plant’s closing.
Regardless of which option one chooses, we should not criticize another’s decision, because we all have different circumstances. The general consensus of the jobs bank group is that elected and appointed reps have been sitting around and doing squat all these years, so we’re going to do squat too, at least for a while anyway. The majority of us have been breaking our backs on the line for the last 20 plus years, and now we’re going to reap the benefits.
The first couple of months after the truck plant ended production; we were housed in the plant, an ideal setting for the Jobs Bank. One could go to one of two areas to play cards or watch TV, or check out another to see what movies were playing on TV's members had hooked DVD players or VCRs up to. Then there was the well equipped Gym for those who wanted to workout. A ¼ mile stretch was designated on one side of the plant for those who wanted to walk for exorcize. Or a nook or cranny could always be found for those who wanted to read in solitude or just relax undisturbed, but like all good things, it was not meant to last, because the plant was becoming a deconstruction zone.
Once a facility was found, its location was kept a secret from the membership, but like most GM plants, ours had a very active rumor mill. Before we relocated, rumor was the new facility had a TV Room for movies, a Quiet Room for reading, and an Exorcise Room for the gym equipment. Supposedly, there were also offices and cubicles for union and Mgt officials, and a Main Room large enough to accommodate the 200 or so membership comfortably.
Around the middle of July of 05, about 120 members relocated to the new facility about a quarter mile down the street from the plant. The other 100 or so Skilled Tradesmen, union reps, appointees, yum-yums, and Mgt personnel will be working at the plant until about late August or early September, and then, they’ll join the rest of us.
Those of us who went to the new facility in the first wave had the opportunity to set the place up for those who would soon follow. Some managed to snag one of the many office cubicles that were along one wall of the 120 ft X 200 ft room, while others setup 3X8 folding tables around the perimeter. Some cubicles and offices with doors were off limits, because they were reserved for Mgt personnel and union officials. In some instances a union rep shared an office with their Mgt counterpart. This disturbed several of us, but our reps didn’t object to the paring, and since we’ve become accustomed to their closeness, or jointness over the years, all we could do is shake our heads in disgust, and say, “Whatever.”
Two new company supplied TV’s, with piped in satellite were mounted on one wall, but their location limited viewing and audio by the majority. If they were turned up so everybody could hear them, the people directly under them would need ear plugs. There were no TV, Exorcise, or Quiet rooms. A Stair Stepper and two Treadmills was all that was brought over from the gym. So much for rumors. A dozen or so computers from the Learning Center were set up, without Internet access of course; however, they could be used to play solitaire, practice typing skills, or whatever.
There was a smaller room south of the room we were in that had a kitchenette along one wall and a small stage at one end. A few members set up tables in this room with the understanding that should the room south of the kitchenette be rented; they would have to move into the north room with the rest of us, because the kitchenette will have to be shared with the new tenants.
A vender’s food and coffee wasn’t consistent, so we made use of the kitchenette by establishing a not for profit Jobs Bank Café. Mgt assigned an able, willing, and credible chief cook and bottle washer to man the, coffee pots, forman grills, hot plates, crock-pots, and toasters that were donated by members and Mgt. A small donation is requested for the light fare, and all proceeds are used to replenish food supplies and equipment, and any money left over is placed in a bank account to be used to help those less fortunate in the community during the Holidays.
In the beginning the atmosphere was jovial, friendly, and relaxing. Then They slowly started moving in, not the Skilled Trades people, but Them, the Good Ole Boys (Gobs), their appointees, and yum-yums. Little by little they sucked the atmosphere right out of the place. Now there’s a feeling of tension in the air because they walk around with their arrogant, indignant “I’m better than you attitudes” like they did in the plant. We do our best to ignore their prying eyes and eavesdropping habits.
No wonder most of them hesitated coming to the new location, they didn’t want us to know just what it is they do, which we soon learned is absolutely nothing, at least not on our behalf. Upon further observations, one couldn’t help notice that the majority of the Gobs and their yum-yums chose not to mingle with the membership, unless they’re likeminded. Like birds of a feather, they hung together, and looked right at home with their feet propped up on the desk while sucking-up to Mgt.
Shortly after they arrived, someone called the State’s Comptroller’s Office and complained about the kitchen. The Cook was issued a $300 ticket, and had to prove to the comptroller’s agent that the Café was a not for profit operation in order to get the ticket withdrawn, and an exemption for the kitchen. Once that was done, we thought the Café was good to go.
However, a few weeks later the Cook got a subpoena. Apparently, someone was aggressively trying to shut the kitchen down. By this time there was $1,900 in the kitchen’s kitty, $500 of which had to be used to hire a lawyer to clear the Cook and assure the continued operation of the Jobs Bank Café. Several of us suspect the Gobs were behind the attempts to shutdown the kitchen, because it was being run by someone they had no control of, and because they couldn’t control the kitchen’s purse strings.
Another indicator was that the Gobs didn’t offer to help the Cook by offering the services of the local president’s attorney, whose on retainer, even if it was just for advice, anything would have been helpful. Also, the Gobs didn’t offer to help off set the Cook’s $500 lawyer fee, money that could have been donated to a local charity, so is it any wonder we’re suspicious of them?
To confirm our suspicions, one of the Gobs yum-yums recently threatened the Cook in front of a Café assistant. He said, “You should show Charley (Alfred) some respect. What do you want, another ticket?” Charley is our ex-president/traitor, who, despite our protest, appointed his daughter and two yum-yums to the new transmission plant out of line with seniority. He’s currently local Region 8 retiree rep.
The yum-yums recent threat was because the Cook was complaining about a letter the jobs bank membership received from a financial advisor/solicitor. Upon investigating the letters, we discovered that our names and addresses were given to the solicitor, and who knows how many others. And it appears that Alfred and his protégé, Darren Petty, MD state Cap president, abused their authority by exploiting the Jobs Bank situation for personal gain when they gave out our personnel information, because the solicitor’s workshop was being held in their Canton Station Bar, not the Hall like previous workshops.
On May 12, 2006, the Cook and I sent a certified letter to the International that outlined Alfred and Petty’s allegedly irresponsible behavior. We asked that they investigate the situation, discipline the culprits responsible, and inform us of their findings. Past experience has taught us that the International rarely disciplines its own, usually they’re promoted, but who knows? Sometimes right does win out in the end, not often, but sometimes. I’ll post our letter and the International’s response, if any, in a future newsletter.
In Solidarity, Doug Hanscom