Disgruntled Autoworker # 34 - August 06'
Snakes in Our Halls
On 08.25.06, I went to the Baltimore National Labor Relations Board to give a deposition in relation to a charge I filed against local 239 president Fred Swanner. I took three friends to help present the case on behalf of the membership and to assist me should I overlook some pertinent info. It wasn’t long before we overwhelmed the young Field Attorney with too much info. She decided to dismiss my three friends after taking their names, addressed, and phone numbers. She may require their depositions at a later date.
Before dismissing my friends, we asked the Field Attorney if we could include the names of 87 coworkers who wish to be a party to the charge, if not; my friends will start making phone calls to have 87 separate charges filed. The Field Attorney left to seek advice. She returned a few minutes later and told us that she’ll take my deposition and then amend the charge to include our coworkers. The Field Attorney, an Assistant Attorney, and I went to her office where I spent two and a half hours telling her why my coworkers and I believe our Local and International Reps deliberately lied and misinformed us for personal gain.
A brief synapses of the charge is, UAW International and Local Reps, with a GM Rep present at one meeting, and two Allison Transmission Reps present at another meeting with Job Bank members, repeatedly reiterated that all job openings in *Allison will be filled by local 239 production members, even if we’re forced to the Wilmington assembly plant. Then on July 31st, without Union Reps present, Mgt announced that we will be forced to Wilmington without recall rights. A week later Swanner came out of hiding wearing an Allison uniform. He just had to rub it in. He told us he was only repeating what International Rep Rick McKiddy told us. He also blamed us for not knowing what’s in the contract.
For the record, it’s our Union Rep’s job to know what’s in the contract, and to interpret it for us. When a member told Swanner, “You have a duty to be honest with us, we pay union dues.” He arrogantly and indignantly responded, “The Company pays my salary. I pay union dues too.” In other words he was saying that he has no obligation to represent us. The snake crawled back under his rock the next day and he hasn’t been seen since.
Regardless as to how much we study the National Agreement, we’ll never fully understand it because it was intentionally written with so much legal jargon that it is subject to multiple interpretations each time its read. Also, there are so many addendums, supplemental agreements, unpublished letters, and secret agreements that come with a wink, nod, or handshake that it is constantly evolving. However, as Union Reps, Swanner and McKiddy are privy to that constantly evolving information. It’s their duty to be informed, and to be honest. We rely on them to interpret the contract for us; however, considering the recent turn of events, we believe Swanner and McKiddy distorted the truth and manipulated the facts for personnel gain, which is a breach of their duty of fair representation.
Members made life altering decisions based on info they received from Swanner and McKiddy. Some of us decided not to transfer, retire, or take advantage of SAP because we wanted to transfer to the Allison plant when the anticipated 87 jobs become available during the next two years. A few senior members kept their names off the Allison transfer list because they trusted Swanner and McKiddy, especially when GM and Allison’s Reps didn’t interject to contradict what we were being told, they were going to wait until 07 or 08 to transfer; now everyone’s upset and pissed because we’re being forced to Wilmington, or retiring without the benefit of SAP. No wonder the snakes went into hiding.
Speaking of snakes, retiree president, Gene DiNatale came into the JB facility a few days ago to drop something off, and during his brief visit he made a point of telling a couple of coworkers that I’m responsible for us being sent to Wilmington. Like the Bush administration, the Good Ole Boys (Gobs) like to accuse others of that which they are responsible for. Our current Shop Chairman, Gary Warble, the lesser of two evils, started this whole chain of events in motion when he used a company copier to copy and circulate the Financial Times article that plagiarized my Job Bank Update article in the May 05 Disgruntled Autoworker Newsletter.
Management’s moratorium prohibiting the posting and circulation of articles was still in effect when Warble circulated the FT article; however, Mgt turned a blind eye. If a fellow dissident or I had done that, we would have been severely disciplined, which in the usual double standard, and it tells us that Mgt and our Union Reps, including Warble, are coconspirators, and are as cohesive as ever.
Its one thing to have to fight the company for your rights, which is why unions were created back when the word Union actually meant something, but to have to fight your Union Reps too, that is so un-American. We shouldn’t have to go to the National Labor Relations Board to get our Union Reps to comply with the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, but usually we don’t have a choice. Winning is often a crap shoot, but it’s better than doing nothing.
A week after the NLRB ruled that GM had to post a letter stating our rights under LMRDA, UAW president/traitor Gettelfinger, who was no doubt smitten with my recent victory, felt that he had to tarnish my victory by sending me a long drawn out letter that denied my appeal on a grievances’ resolution. I knew when I appealed the resolution eleven months ago that it would be denied. So I wasn’t at all surprised that GetFingered deliberately chose this time to respond to my appeal. I also won’t be surprised if I read in the paper someday that some despondent union member somewhere around the country takes a shovel in hand and tries to cut off the heads of the snakes infesting our Halls.
The majority of my coworkers and I are headed to Wilmington in three groups. The first group left on August 21st, the second group reports on the 28th and the third group on September 11th. A fellow dissident and I have recently been given veiled threats and warnings that Wilmington is waiting for us, be it true or not, it doesn’t bother us, but we documented all the who, what, when and where’s anyway. We decided not to report the incidents to Mgt or their Union Reps, because we believe the threats are coming through them. However, we did report them to the NLRB Rep handling our case, because retaliation against dissention is the primary reason these chains of events were set in motion in the first place.
Lastly, in my JB Update article I reported that Mgt and the Gobs used a suspiciously placed FT article to shutdown the JB café, which Mgt initiated eleven months prior. Mgt told the Cook, who devoted several hours of her own time on a daily bases that she could continue making coffee, but she chose not to, it was all or nothing. Food supplies and Grills, Crock Pots and utilities were donated to Our Daily Bread; a local charity. A member took it upon himself to make coffee with the two remaining coffeepots and left over coffee that was bought with assets generated by the nonprofit café. He sold coffee for the next two months.
Two days after we filed our NLRB charge against the local’s president, the remaining coffeepots and proceeds disappeared from the café along with the man who transferred to Allison. Several people saw him take them, but thought nothing of it until the following Monday when people complained that there wasn’t any coffee. Mgt was made aware of the theft, but refused to enforce the plant rule prohibiting stealing, another double standard. The shop chairman claims to have called the thief and told him to bring them back, but there’s no proof of that, nor were the coffeepots returned.
This is just another example of Mgt and Union Reps colluding to take advantage of a situation that they conspired to create just to retaliate against the membership one more time. It was Mgt’s idea to setup the café, and then they conspire with our Union Reps to shut it down because of the concerted activities of a few dissenting members, which may have been their plan right from the beginning. With so many Labor Reps in GM and Union Rep’s lips firmly planted on their butts, it wouldn’t surprise us if they orchestrated this chain of events just to amuse themselves.
UAW Solidarity House and our Local Union Halls are so infested with snakes that it’s just a matter of time before the membership gets, “Sick and F%#@ing tired of living with these Mother F%#@ing snakes in our Mother F%#@ing Union Halls.”
In Solidarity, Doug Hanscom
* The Allison Transmission plant in White Marsh, MD was recently renamed GM Powertrain, and therefore, it is not up for sale with the rest of the Allison Division. FYI