Appeal to the UAW's Public Review Board
In October of 2006, GM Wilmington disciplined me for allegedly violating Plant Rule #29, “The making or publishing of false, vicious, or malicious statements concerning any employee, Advisor, the Company or its products.” A grievance was filed. It was in the grievance procedure until August of 2007, at which time the Third Step Rep withdrew it for personnel reasons.
I filled an appeal to the International Executive Board (IEB), % President Gettelfinger, and to show he has a sense of humor; on December 24th I received a Christmas gift from Gettelfinger. It was a sixteen page letter that denied my appeal. Just to let him know that I have a sense of humor too, on December 27th I sent him a Thank You Card with the following message;
Thank you for the timely response to my appeal of grievance C1070927. Since the Delegates had no voice or vote in electing you or your party, I knew what to expect, and Sir, you did not disappoint me. May the New Years and the remainder of your term be filled with the same concern and respect that you bestow on the rank and file.
Sincerely, Doug Hanscom
On January 15th, 2008, I filed an appeal to the UAW’s Public Review Board, the last step in the grievance procedure. Below is that appeal letter, it’s a bit lengthy, but I felt it was necessary to cover all that I believe applies to my defense; and that is that collusion is the overriding premise of the UAW IEB’s Joint Partnerships with the Corporations, which the IEB claims was not a factor in their decision to deny my appeal. The PRB’s response and/or updates will be posted on this site.
UAW Public Review Board
904 Starkweather St.
Plymouth, MI 48170
Dear Members of the Public Review Board, 01.15.08
I hereby appeal UAW President Gettelfinger and the International Executive Board’s decision to deny my appeal of the withdrawal of Grievance C1070927 at the third step of the grievance procedure. I believe I was unjustly and unduly reprimanded by GM Wilmington for exercising my free speech rights in one of my Disgruntled Autoworker newsletters. I also believe Region 8 Servicing Rep John Washington’s (Attachment A) decision to withdraw the grievance, for what can only be described as personal reasons, is in violation of UAW Ethical Practice Codes that give members the right to freely criticize the policies and personalities of Union officials. Furthermore, the IEB’s decision to abide by Brother Washington’s decision because they concluded that ‘the matter was not improperly handled as a result of fraud, discrimination or collusion’ is flawed and fraught with contradictions.
I defend my position by addressing the 12.21.07 UAW IEB’s (B) 16 page letter that concludes with their decision to deny my appeal based on Washington’s personal opinion that my newsletter, which he finds “very offensive, is not a proper letter that any union brother or sister should be reading.”
Page one of the IEB’s letter states I was disciplined on 06.09.03 for allegedly violating Plant Rule #29; “The making or publishing of false, vicious, or malicious statements concerning any employee, Advisor, the Company or its products.”
My response; Attached is (C) Observations # 27, the alleged offensive newsletter. Note: While the subject content may be crude and critical, it is not vicious or malicious. I was merely describing in detail and accurately the circumstances surrounding a supervisor’s arrogant demeanor as I perceived it.
Page two states the union was successful in getting the discipline removed from my record.
My response; At the following union meeting on 09.14.03, Local 239’s President stated, from the podium, that GM dropped the reprimand on the day (07.15.03) I filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge against GM at the Baltimore office of the National Labor Relations Board.
Therefore, according to the President’s comments, it was I, not the union, who was responsible for getting the discipline removed from my record when I filed the NLRB charge. GM knew it did not have a case and thereby withdrew the reprimand.
Page two also states I was disciplined on 09.14.04 for allegedly violating Plant Rule #29. Note: According to (D) The Minutes of the Third Step Meeting, the discipline was untimely in that it was issued seven days after the newsletter was circulated, not the contractually required three days.
My response; Attached is (E) Observations #34, the allegedly offensive newsletter. In this incident I was disciplined for making a false statement when I wrote that the t-shirts and tickets for the Orioles vs Giants game for GM/UAW Day at Camden Yards on June 12th, 2004 were paid for out of Joint Funds.
It is important to note that, at that time, GM paid into JFs at the rate of $.19 per hour worked and $5.19 per overtime hour worked per employee/member, which is then multiplied by the number of employees, a staggering figure when you think about it. However, members are denied repeated request for a break down of where JFs are spent. A growing number of us believe we have a right to demand accountability for where and on what JFs are spent, because the IEB is a co-distributer/spender of said funds. We want to make sure the funds are being administered properly and in the membership’s behalf. (Attached (F) are several copies of attempts to get disclosure of JFs through Union and Government agencies, some by myself and some by others and the press. All requests have either been ignored, ridiculed or a run around has ensued that is still going on to this very day.) Also attached (F-1) is a letter off of the UAW’s website; it’s about the IEB suing ULLICO for financial disclosure reports. The irony being the IEB demands disclosure and accountability when it affects them, but denies its membership the same courtesy and respect.
Instead of providing accountability of JFs to its members, for twenty years the IEB, and GM, have been inundating the membership, employees, with a plethora of GM/UAW Joint Programs, Policies, Magazines, and Memorabilia that has conditioned them to believe that whenever and wherever they see the GM/UAW, UAW/GM, or any other variation of the GM-UAW Logos together advertising a sporting event like the Ballgame listed above, NASCAR races, UAW-GM People Magazines, or on T-shirts, Mugs, Pens or whatever, we automatically assume that it, they, are financed with JFs, hence the reason I wrote the statement that resulted in the 09.14.04 discipline. Until we are allowed documentation of where and on what Joint Funds are spent, we will continue to believe that which we are conditioned too, and until proven otherwise, I believe the statement I wrote then is just as true today.
Page two also states, “The union processed the grievance on my behalf because I was protesting the discipline.” As my sole representative, the union should have insisted on the grievance that I had to demand. Once it’s written, a grievance becomes the property of the union; therefore, the union should be processing it on behalf of the membership, not an individual. If the union allows GM to get away with disciplining one member for exercising their free speech rights, we are all in trouble; because the union’s motto of an injury to one is an injury to all would then be meaningless.
And page two also states; “Even though the union was successful in having the penalty reduced on the record, GM refused to completely remove the discipline from the appellant’s record.” The penalty was the Balance of the Shift plus five days on the street, a loss of 44.6 hours. To give credit where it’s due, according to the (G) disposition notice I received on 09.13.05, the union did get the penalty reduced to a written reprimand and 44.6 hours of straight-time pay. I was out 4.6 hours of over-time pay and the written reprimand stays on my record until 06.15.06, at which time “The Grievant’s record will be reviewed and providing no further cause for discipline, the Grievant’s record will be cleared.” I appealed the settlement to the IEB, but it was denied. I did not, for whatever reason, appeal the IEB’s decision to the PRB.
Note; the 06.09.03 and 09.14.04 alleged violations of Plant Rule #29 occurred in the, Local 239, Baltimore assembly plant, and the 10.21.06 alleged violation occurred in the, Local 435, Wilmington assembly Plant. It is also important to note that when approximately fifty of my coworkers and I went through indoctrination during the first day, 08.28.06, of orientation into the Wilmington Plant, Mgt stated, “Everyone here starts fresh. Your previous records don’t count; it’s as if you are new employees.”
Which begs the questions; If both the 06.09.03 and 09.14.04 penalties were removed from my record, and I am starting as a new employee/member in the Wilmington plant, then why is the IEB using them against me now as prior infractions? I could understand GM holding them against me, lying to pursue progressive disciplinary action is expected, hence the severe penalty for the alleged 10.21.06 violation, but why is the IEB using them in their decision to deny my appeal of the withdrawal of the grievance? Is it not understood that the IEB has an obligation to represent me, not assist GM in persecuting me? Isn’t this an act of collusion and a contradiction of their duty of fair representation?
Page thirteen of the IEB’s letter states that “under serious scrutiny, my newsletters could result in me being charged with violating the UAW’s Ethical Practice Codes because they are rarely grounded in facts despite me portraying myself as an authority on the UAW’s policies, contract and the constitution; nevertheless, no action is pursued because readership of the articles appears minimal, no negative impact towards the organization has materialized, and the unsupported ridiculous claims embedded therein are, for the most part, considered crude but relatively harmless.”
My response; I have never claimed to be an authority on any of the subjects listed, at least not on the level inferred by the IEB; although I do consider myself pretty well versed on the shop floor affects of the GM/UAW IEB Joint Policy of using nepotism, favoritism and cronyism when appointing people to staff the dozens or more positions that become available through the UAW/GM Health and Safety, Work/Family, and Quality Network Joint Programs, to name but a few.
In the beginning there was jealousy and envy amongst the rank and file towards those fortunate enough to be appointed to one of the few Joint positions available. Over time, as the number of Joint positions multiplied, resentment and animosity became the dominate feelings, because it became apparent that the appointment process was flawed. Today, with the IEB’s approval and blessing, good jobs like material and sanitation are being eliminated, out-sourced, or more recently downgraded to, second tier, lower paying non-core jobs by GM. The result being that the vast majority of the rank and file are now expected to work like children in Chinese toy factories for their entire careers while a select few, between three and ten percent of a plant’s union workforce, are chosen/appointed to staff the growing number of Joint positions simply because they’re relatives of a union official or someone in Mgt, or they have connections to same, or they kiss up, suck up, stroke, sleep with, and/or do whatever to/for union officials and/or Mgt to get one of those coveted Joint positions, hence the term Yum yums, their shop floor nick name. Today, a majority of the Yum yums are loathed and despised. Now there is an atmosphere of distrust, hatred and fear throughout our plants because the growing army of Yum yums are used by their appointers, local leaders, to undermine democracy and solidarity by using them to spy on, rat out, or set up dissidents or anyone who complains or conspires to challenge the status quo of the incumbents, or god forbid, forms a caucus to unseat them in elections, which if successful may also change the appointment process to an election process, as it should be.
I will skip my knowledge of the contract, because like the majority of my coworkers in the Baltimore and Wilmington plants, I believe the National Contract is a work in progress, a Living Agreement that is subject to at will changes and multiple interpretations by GM and/or UAW IEB officials.
As for my knowledge of the UAW’s Constitution, it too is lacking, but I do know that according to Article 10 Section 1 of the Constitution, the IEB shall be elected by the Convention. I attended the 33rd and 34th Conventions and based on my astute observations, the standing members of the IEB were not elected. They were selected/appointed by their predecessors. For example, eight months prior to the 33rd Convention, an article (H) ran in the Detroit Free Press stating that then President Yokich chose VP Gettelfinger to be his successor, and as sure as the Earth rotates around the Sun, he became president. The selection of successors by incumbents are done in a boardroom, backroom or barroom, a practice that could be traced to the Reuther Brothers, the UAW’s founders, a practice that has surely caused them to roll over in their graves many times since the IEB formed partnerships with the corporations. Aside from New Directions caucus unsuccessfully challenging the IEB in the eighties, they've ruled the UAW unchallenged for over seventy years, that’s not democracy, despite Gettelfinger insisting that it is at both Conventions. The IEB is a Dynasty, a Dictatorship, a Monarchy and Convention Elections are more about the passing of a scepter, the rains of power, or a coronation than they are elections.
The selection of ones successors or perpetuating the dynasty is also used in the selection of Regional Directors; a practice that’s spread to the majority our locals. Over the years the IEB and our Local Executive Board members have become known in shop talk as being members of a Good Ole Boys Club, hence the acronym GOB. With the proliferation of the internet, the terms Gobs and Yum yums have spread nationwide, hence the repeated use of the terms in shop talk and my newsletters.
Even the Conventions are a sham. Their only purpose, aside from the hobnobbing and parting, is for the IEB to flaunt their power in front of a steady stream of politicians, dignitaries and wannabes. The presence of Delegates is to give them the illusion of purpose and a sense of accomplishment; and for most of them it’s an opportunity to stroke the egos of those they hope to one day succeed. In reality Delegates have no voice, no vote and no power other than that which they are allowed by the IEB, which is superficial at best.
As for being charged with violating Ethical Practice Codes, Baltimore’s Chairman threatened several times through third parties to bring me up on charges but they never materialized, which lead my cohorts and I to believe the reason he didn’t is because if a trial ensued, he would have to account for his actions and address accusations made in my newsletters, neither of which he dared do. We also believed he was more concerned with upcoming elections, which he lost by a wide margin, an indicator of the positive effect and influence my newsletters had in the local’s political arena, an area where my newsletters also helped influence the election of the President, Vice President, twice, Recording Secretary and Chairmanship a second time in the last election, which blows out of the water the IEB’s assessment that my newsletters are relatively harmless.
Here are a few more incidents of my newsletters being relatively harmless. If they were harmless, then why would Baltimore’s local President wave one at a union meeting, 09.14.03, and claim negotiations would be going smoothly until Mgt held one out and said, “According to Doug you don’t have the members support,” then spend twenty minutes blaming me, from the podium, for negotiations going sour? Or why would the Chairman set me up at a union meeting, 09.09.01, by yelling false accusations at me? When I rose to defend my newsletter, his Yum yums yelled profanities at me like we were at a soccer game. Or why would the Recording Secretary and Mgt’s Labor Rep collude to set me up for sexual harassment for writing that the RC rolled over before she was sworn in? Then there was the time in the Union Hall’s parking lot I was threaten by the CAP president, who by the way was appointed, never elected by the membership, all the way up to said position, the ultimate definition of a Yum yum, and a classic example of the abuse of the power of appointment. Then there was the time my sealed juvenile record was circulated, which had a negative influence on my run for office. My work station was trashed, I was suspected of sabotage, and a coworker and my name were copied from a signed document, which was in the union’s possession, to a bogus (J) newsletter that was circulated. I was also suspected of circulating doctored newspaper articles and other bogus and derogatory articles. I had $100 in extra union dues deducted from my pay two months in a row, had a tire slashed in the plant’s parking lot, had tags stolen, was twice accused of violating Plant Rule #29, upon inspection in 2005, my twenty eight year personnel file was reduced to just a few medical, and 63A and B transfer forms, and I was accused by the Gobs and Yum yums of being responsible for closing the Baltimore plant. Then, in the Wilmington plant I was accused of violating Plant Rule #29, three days later the local’s Chairman tried unsuccessfully to get me into a fight with one of the plant’s drunks (K) and thereby get me fired for violating multiple plant rules, my work station was trashed twice, once within a month of my arrival and again a few months later, and two disciplinary actions missing from my Baltimore personnel file mysteriously appeared in my Wilmington files, which GM probably got from the IEB’s files.
If my newsletters are so harmless, then why are the Gobs, Yum yums and Mgt, and in some cases, the Gobs and Mgt colluding to inflict so much retaliatory activity on and/or at me? Could it be there are some truths to the claims embedded in my newsletters? Or could it be my newsletters are having a negative effect on the perverse Joint Partnership the IEB has with GM? A Partnership, by the way, GM executives like Wagoner, Lutz, etc., etc., etc., are constantly bragging about in speeches that are piped into the plant’s TVs.
So much for my defense against my union representatives for denying my appeal, now for my defense against their Joint GM Partners in Wilmington for disciplining me in the first place.
Page fourteen states, “The Corporation, on the other hand, believed that the writings in (L) Disgruntled Autoworker #35 were inflammatory, and the untruths therein threatened employee-employer relationship, vital to the efficient operation of its facility, therefore violating Shop Rule #29. GM disciplined the Appellant on two previous occasions for similar offences. They clearly articulated this belief to the Local and International Union as the grievance was argued at each stage of the grievance procedure.” It should be noted that at every stage above the local, grievances’ are handled by appointees, a travesty of justice.
My response begins with the disciplinary hearing. Mgt presented me with a copy of DA #35 and asked if I had written it. I told Mgt I had. Mgt asked, “Do you think it’s appropriate to write liars, thieves, thugs and punks?” I told Mgt I was describing my Union Reps. (Since becoming aware of conditions in my union in December of 1999, and then becoming a union activist the following January with the circulation of my first newsletter, Observations #01, I’ve met dozens of International and Local union reps during the last eight years, including Gettelfinger, and I can honestly say very few, less than five percent, earned my respect and admiration. All the rest were or are liars, thieves, thugs or punks.) Mgt then asked, “Why did you use the terms Suck up, Stroke, etc..?” I told Mgt it was to get my coworker’s attention. Mgt then said, “Well you got ours.” I said, “Excuse me, but this is concerted activity, it’s between me and my union. What does this have to do with Mgt?” Mgt said, “I’m getting to that.” Then Mgt said, “You need to get your facts straight about team coordinators, because we do assign them by seniority.” I said, “That’s not the word out on the floor.” Mgt said, “Regardless, we do go by seniority; therefore, you are in violation of Plant Rule # 29.” I then gave Mgt a copy (M) of the Labor Management and Reporting and Disclosure Act and told Mgt I’ll be taking this issue to the NLRB, which I did, charges are pending. I had to demand a grievance from my committeeman who sat silently during the proceedings, so it’s doubtful he’ll corroborate any of the above. A couple days later another committeeman told me they had heard that the majority of my coworkers loved my newsletter because everything in it was true, especially the part about team coordinators, which the committeeman also verified as being true, so much for honesty and free speech. Incidentally, I have not circulated another newsletter out of fear addition bogus charges may be brought against me by GM.
The above paragraph confirms that the discipline was directed at a specific section of the newsletter that addressed the selection of team coordinators, and therefore it debunks GM and the IEB’s assertion on page fourteen that the discipline also encompassed the sections of my newsletter that identified union reps as liars, thieves, thugs and punks, and my use of the terms kissed up, sucked up, stroked and slept with to describe how some appointees get appointed. Besides holding obsolete disciplines against me, this is another attempt by GM to justify its severe discipline, and the IEB’s shameless attempt to validate their reason to deny my appeal, both blatant attempts by GM and the IEB to collude to protect their UAW/GM Joint Partnership, and in turn violate my free speech rights. *As for making a false statement about the selection of team coordinators, the committeeman and a vast majority of coworkers I’ve polled since being reprimanded have also told me that, based on their observations, they too believe seniority is not a factor in the selection of team coordinators. I’m aware this doesn’t change GM’s position; however, it corroborates my observations and what I was told by coworkers prior to being disciplined. Then again, GM controls the application process, so I don’t believe cooking the books is beneath them.
My response to GM’s allegation that my statements were inflammatory follows; I suppose if you’re a Gob or Yum yum who is offended by my writings, then yes, I guess to the offended, who must be feeling guilty, my statements were inflammatory; however, they were in no way whatsoever untruths, they were based on years of coworkers and my shop floor observations. My newsletters are not called the Happy Autoworker; they’re not like the UAW’s Solidarity Magazine in that they paint the world in rainbow and butterfly colors. They are called the Disgruntled Autoworker for a reason, and that is to use shop talk, as crude and as colorful as it can sometimes be to agitate the Gobs and Yum yums while educating the membership. I also use the disgruntled attitude I inherited, with my 1999 awakening, in my writings to enrage the membership into action by calling a spade a spade, by showing them, in all its ugly hues and shades of gray that the IEB’s GM/UAW Joint Partnership and policies are having a devastating effect on our union, almost all of which I describe in my newsletters and in these pages to you, the PRB. By enraging the membership into action, I mean pissing them off to the point they decide to get involved by educating themselves about the deplorable condition our UAW and the labor movement is in, or to attend union meetings, or challenge incumbents in elections or just voicing their opinion if they don’t agree with what they’re being told by the Gobs and/or Mgt. Any action that will replace the fear and apathy instilled in them over the years by the GM/UAW Joint Partnership.
If, according to the dictionary’s definition of inflammatory, my newsletters incite an atmosphere of anger, disorder, tumult, or sedition, which GM claims threatens its employee/employer relationship and the efficient operation of its facility, that would be an unintended consequence, because the real message GM is clearly articulating is its belief that an uprising by its employees/union members against the IEB would actually threaten its relationship with the IEB, which in reality threatens their Joint Partnership. I believe that would be called collateral damage. GM is also clearly articulating that it’s attempting to prolong an inevitable uprising, wishful thinking, against a union leadership that has betrayed its members and retirees for way too long, which is an act of collusion by GM to protect the IEB’s Dynasty and its Joint Partnership.
To put something else in perspective here, ever since the IEB formed its Joint Partnership with GM, Ford, Chrysler, Visteon and Delphi, we, the membership, lost almost a million members; plants and locals are pitted against each other for inferior contracts in a race to the bottom; Local 2036, Caterpillar and Delphi members etc., etc., etc., were sold out without so much as a fight; departments, groups and workers, senior and younger, healthy and injured are pitted against each other in our plants; active workers are pitted against retirees; active workers salaries and benefits are under attack; new hires and temporary workers are being screwed like there’s no tomorrow; and retirees were betrayed, the ultimate sin. All this while the IEB gives themselves raises and improves their own benefits and perks, while only giving lip service to the over the top excesses of corporate executives, especially at Delphi, which a blind man could have seen coming.
A classic example of the perverse nature of their Joint Partnership was when the IEB and GM colluded in a 2005 court action that grants the IEB the right to bargain for retirees, a premeditated act that paves the way for future reductions in retiree health care benefits when the IEB assumes control of the much underfunded Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association, or VEBA, Trusts. Instead of leading the battle against corporate greed and fighting to preserve and improve members’ wages and benefits, the IEB is leading the retreat to protect the mismanaged Corporation’s bottom line. In return for their years of undying loyalty, the Corporations are helping the IEB transform the UAW into a health care provider; and at bargain basement rates to boot. A win win for the Corporations, a win for the IEB, and a lose lose for members, retirees and the labor movement. The membership and retirees have been on the receiving end of collateral damage long enough; turning the tables is long long over due.
Not only did GM misrepresent its intent by stating that Baltimore employees have clean records, it used previous penalties that were supposedly wiped from my record to justify severely discipline me. The IEB not only allowed GM the right to use these previous penalties, they too used them in their decision to deny my appeal of the withdrawal of the grievance. This is an act of collusion by the IEB to assist GM in disciplining me for exercising my free speech rights under the Labor Management and Reporting and Disclosure Act and the U.S. and UAW Constitutions, all of which Plant Rule #29 is in violation of.
And I believe GM clearly articulates on page fourteen of the IEB’s letter that its discipline is an attempt to prolong an employee/member uprising against a union leadership that has betrayed its members and retirees, which is an act of collusion by GM to protect the IEB’s Dynasty and their Joint Partnership.
And I believe I have proven that the colorful and often times crude language in my newsletters is nothing more than the average every day shop talk heard out on the shop floor, that my descriptions of Gobs and Yum yums and their actions are accurate from a shop floor perspective, and that the statement about the selection of team coordinators is based on shop floor observations by me, a committeeman and coworkers. All of which are covered by the LMRDA and the U.S. and UAW Constitutions that protect my free speech rights. I also believe that if it wasn’t for the IEB’s Joint Partnership with GM, which is the root cause of all the above, there wouldn’t be a need for newsletters like mine, Gregg Shotwell’s, Bill Hanline’s and others, or the need for dissident websites www.factoryrat.com, www.futureoftheunion.com, www.soldiersofsolidarity.com and others. I also believe Plant Rule #29 violates the Labor Management and Reporting and Disclosure Act and both the U.S. and UAW Constitutions; it should be revised or removed from the list of plant rules.
And I believe I have accurately demonstrated several times throughout this appeal letter that Jointness is collusion. GM’s discipline of me and the IEB’s decision to deny my appeal are acts of collusion for the explicit purpose of protecting and preserving their perverse Joint Partnership.
Therefore, the IEB’s ruling that, “the matter was not improperly handled as a result of fraud, discrimination or collusion” is flawed and fraught with contradictions. I ask the PRB to please review the IEB’s denial of my appeal of the withdrawal of the grievance based on Brother Washington’s personal opinion. This is America; it’s up to the members to decide if my newsletters are proper reading material, or profane, not brother Washington or the IEB. I ask that you please reverse the IEB’s decision by placing the grievance back in the grievance procedure.
Thank you and sincerely,
Doug Hanscom, Soldier Of Solidarity
cc; Gettelfinger, Casteel, Washington, & Smith
* Fellow activist and retired Local President Dave Yettaw, deceased, informed me of a quote in a UAW Umpire’s Decision that he believed applied to the 09.14.04 incident, and I believe it applies here. The Case number is G-6 and the Umpire stated, “Knowledge that a statement is false is a necessary element in punishable falsification. Otherwise any good faith mistake would subject an employee to penalty.”