Disgruntled Autoworker # 33 August 06'
Lose Ends; Victory
On 09.27.05, the Job Bank supervisor stated that all material circulated or posted must first meet with his approval and be initialed. A week later I gave him Disgruntled Autoworker #19 knowing full well that he would not initial it. As expected, he refused to allow me to circulate it. I circulated it and the next two newsletters via the internet and outside the JB facility. Then on 12.08.05 I was called into his office.
According to the supervisor, someone observed me circulating DA # 22. I asked, “Who is someone?” He said, “I’m not blind.” My committeeman sat there mute. I was put on notice pending an investigation. I keep a copy of LMRDA with me at all times. I went back to the supervisor’s office a few minutes later; my rep was still there. I gave the supervisor my copy of LMRDA and said, “You’re violating my right to free speech.” He said, “No I’m not.” My rep is a Chatty Kathy with the supervisor, but not once did he consult with me, typical.
Three days later I was called back to the office. I told my committeeman, “I don’t want you representing me, I want the shop chairman.” The chairman, committeeman, and I were in the office. I said, “Before we begin, I have a right to face my accuser.” The supervisor said, “The person (a yum yum I fingered earlier) doesn’t want to testify, so I’m taking you off notice.” I said, “You’re still violating my free speech rights. I’m going to file an NLRB charge over this.” He said, “Do whatever you gotta do.” Too my reps I said, “I want a grievance for harassment.” They reluctantly complied.
Knowing that grievances don’t mean squat anymore once they move up to the International level, I went downtown and filed a charge against the supervisor. I was surprised at how quickly my case moved. In July, a Washington NLRB Rep called to set up a conference call between me, my appointed NLRB trial attorney, a GM rep, and a Judge, the purpose of which was to see if a settlement could be reached prior to the 08.07.06 hearing.
An hour before the 07.17.06 conference call, the Washington rep called to tell me that GM settled, and that I was free to circulate my newsletters. He also told me that GM is required to post, for 60 days, a ‘Notice To Employees’ that outlines our rights under the LMRDA. This was a great victory, not only does it throw sand in GM’s eyes, it rubs salt in their wounds. It’s about time I won one.
On 07.31.06, GM announces that 21 Job Bank members will be transferring to the Allison (GM Powertrain) plant up the road, and the remaining 170 production members will be forced to Wilmington within the next 40 days, without recall rights to Baltimore despite assurances from International and Local union reps that we would have recall rights to the Allison plant. Our president finally found the courage to face us. He blamed us for not knowing what’s in the contract that they’re supposed to interpret for us. In other words he’s telling us that no matter what our union reps tells us, we cannot take anything as factual. He went back into hiding the next day.
One member questioned the seniority of those going to Allison. If he hadn’t asked our newly elected shop chairman to look into his concerns, the Gobs would have gotten away with screwing three members out of going to Allison by putting one of their yum yums ahead of them. Thanks to the shop chairman’s efforts, the yum yum’s on his way to Wilmington with the rest of us.
On 08.08 I called Baltimore’s NLRB to file a charge against our president. On the afternoon of the 8th, a Washington NLRB Rep called. I explained how we were deliberately lied to and mislead by International and local reps with GM and Allison’s approval. I asked if the charge could be broadened to encompass all the parties. She suggested that I file a breach of duty of fair representation charge against the local’s president, and see where it goes from there. I filed the charge and attached a list of 80 names of those affected by, or who will bare witness too, the lies and deception.
Also on the 8th, I called the NLRB’s Compliance Officer because the supervisor hasn’t posted the ‘Notice To Employees’ as is required per the settlement. She checked some facts and called me back to tell me that he doesn’t have to post it until the 14th. Great! At least I’ll get to gloat for a little while before going to Wilmington. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear GM and the Gobs were retaliating against all of us because of this victory.
Prior to the closing of the truck plant, a couple Vietnam veterans expressed their outrage at me for circulating my newsletters. I know for a fact that they do not speak for all veterans simply because they’re on the Veterans Committee. As most of us know, the majority, if not all committees are made up of Good Ole Boys (Gobs) or their yum yums.
Having said that, these Gob veterans seem to think I’m responsible for the truck plant closing, and for them not getting a better retirement package when it closed. Right! I’m also responsible for global warming and the Iraq war. If there’s a group who should respect everyone’s right to free speech, it’s the veterans; therefore, these misguided gob veterans need to get their moral compasses fixed.
The Sick Building
In Jobs Bank Update II, I reported that the building we’re in is known as the sick building, and that calls were made to the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Tests were conducted and the building was determined to be safe; however, during the shutdown, the owners of the building enclosed several openings above the windows and did major renovations in a hallway. We know they were fined, but not how much. We suspect the owners aren’t too happy with us.
It’s Wagoner’s Fault
We didn’t ask to be in the Jobs Bank, we’d rather be working. GM put us here when CEO Rick Wagoner made the decision to stop producing the only rear wheel, or all wheel drive mini van with towing capabilities in existence. Also, GM failed to advertise our vans; and, according to the local’s retiree president, who was at a sales rep meeting a few years ago, a dealer manager told them to stop taking orders for Astro and Safari mini vans, smart move Red Ink Rick.
Therefore, we’re in this position because GM killed our product, and not because of anything we’ve done. The Jobs Bank is a byproduct of the UAW-GM Jointness, spit swapping partnership. So if the corporation and their union reps want to eliminate legacy cost, they need to start by looking around the boardroom table to cut cost and return it to profitability. I suggest they all join hands and take a flying leap off the top of the GM building.
The current Gob administration that runs our local, which the majority of us suspect cheated their way into office, hasn’t been validated by the truck plant or Allison’s membership. They’ve been in office for over a year and have not had a quorum, which we believe they’re proud of. No quorum, no accountability. Now that the JB is all but eliminated, Allison will control the Hall; and elections will be easier to manipulate too, because with rotating shifts, the ballot boxes must be locked up over night at the Hall, and we all know how selfish crooks will act when no one’s looking.
Like the International and it’s anti democratic anti membership pro corporate policies that have allowed it to self perpetuate its existence to infinity, Local 239’s Gobs are in this position too. This is a sad testament to the sorry state of our union that fits right in with the corporate/government’s agenda that gives unions all the rope they want in the hopes that they’ll hang themselves. And they’re doing a bang up job of it too; unfortunately its American workers who’ll suffer the most.
Goodbye Baltimore, Hello Wilmington
I’m going with an open mind. I would much rather write about International corruption than local anyway, and this may be that opportunity, but that’s up to Wilmington’s Local leadership, right?
In solidarity, Doug Hanscom