Disgruntled Autoworker
<< Back to Homepage

Observations #4
September 2000

I've been attending union meetings regularly for about a year, which amounts to four meetings and that's pathetic when you think about it. Most union members I've spoken to on the net from various plants can't believe our officials get away with quarterly meetings. I tell them its because our officials use intimidation tactics to keep membership attendance to less than 10%, giving them complete and total control over the proceedings. For example a couple lines that they like to use are "Your out of order" when someone has a legitimate question they want to avoid or "I don't have the answer at this time but I will get back to you" and they don't. It's obvious they enjoy this game at the member's expense. And that's only one reason for low attendance, read on fellow member for more reasons to stay away from your union meetings.

I knew that if I attended enough union meetings I would eventually be a witness to somebody being railroaded by our local elected officials and I have to tell you it almost got ugly. I don't have the person's permission to use her name so I'll call her Ms. Bird. It seems Ms. Bird submitted a proposal to post all appointed positions when they become available. A good idea that will benefit the entire membership, give everyone a chance to get off these killer jobs before we end up under the knife for a wrist, back, shoulder or whatever. An idea that's long overdue.

Well don't you know our officials didn't like the way it was worded so they made a few changes? Did I say a few changes? They took that proposal and put it through a meat grinder, they reworded it and twisted it all around to the point that it was no longer Ms. Bird proposal. I kid you not when I say they had to read it five times so we could understand it. All they had to say is that they didn't want to post appointed positions, because what they settled on was pretty much the way it is now.

I'll explain it the way I understand it. Appointed positions will not be posted, but if you want to apply for a position you need to submit an open application or resume to the President. Since their not posted be sure to cover all the bases by including any quality experiences, health and safety experiences and experiences you may have in any other appointed position that may become available. Consult your national agreement for a list of appointed positions. Incidentally Ms. Bird submitted another proposal to exclude family and friends from appointed positions, but that was ruled unconstitutional. So the bottom line is you have a snowballs chance in hell of getting an appointed position, unless you start sucking up now.

That my fellow members is how our new President's administration is starting out, another reason to not attend your union meetings run by a clique of clones who refused to let the membership get involved. Not only did they railroad Ms. Bird by changing her proposal, they railroaded the whole membership. Then they had the nerve to ask for a vote on their butchered proposal. There always seems to be more sheep than wolves at the meetings, go figure. The sheep behind me who were talking most of the meeting I know didn't have a clue as to what they were voting on, but they voted for it because their committee leader sitting in front of me voted for it. Sheep 72, freethinking Wolves 56.

To add insult to injury and to give yet another reason for not getting involved in union affairs is towards the end of the meeting Ms. Bird said "It's nice you're trying to get a new product and all, but what do you plan on doing about the overworked jobs?" Chuck Miller takes the stage and said, "Let me get this straight. Your saying you don't want me to get a new product for the plant?" More twisting and turning of the words and more intimidation tactics, its no wonder attendance is so low. Sure the question should have been asked after the Chairman's report, but if they can ask for a vote on their butchered proposal, hell it should be anything goes. If it wasn't for Adam telling Chuck to, "Take it easy on her." I do believe it would have gotten ugly and he would have put her through the meat grinder as well and loved every minute of it. Thank you Adam for not letting me be a witness to that, I've seen enough. By the way Chuck didn't answer her about the overworked jobs, maybe he'll get back to her.

As if you need another reason not to attend there's always this guy. He likes to yell out his opinions at meetings. You know who I'm talking about, the yahoo that yelled out at the ratification vote "I've seen a lot of contracts and this is the best." Yea, whatever, every meeting he has something to say. At the June meeting a member had a few questions she was determined to get answers to and the yahoo yelled yet again, only this time more belligerent, "Why don't you sit down and shut up?" You would think the President would have told him he was out of order and should shut up himself, but when that didn't happen you knew he was part of the dog and pony show, part of the intimidation act that keeps attendance down to less than 10%, making the meetings easer to manipulate and control. Thus making membership participation nonexistent.

I ask you is this a union meeting? Or is it a stage for our self-righteous, self-absorbed and self-serving clique of clones to exercise their domination over the membership? Wake up boys, this isn't a monarchy where you rule over a kingdom and the dragon is you're friend, it's a union hall where you were elected to represent the membership, the dragon is the company and it's the enemy, hello.

Your friendly dragon is killing the membership; we are being put out on the street in record numbers due to medical reasons from overworked jobs. What good is writing a seventy-eight on a job when it takes weeks or months to settle and in the meantime a member is expected to do the job or be put on the street? The catch being, the member has been doing the job all along so we can throw out the seventy-eight, duh.

Nothing against our new hires because it's not their fault, but they are in places they should not be and holding jobs that they should not have. At a recent committeeman call in the break room about this situation, my committeeman and I saw a new hire sleeping on a picnic table bench the whole thirty minutes we were in there and yes the line was running. To me the company is rubbing their abuse of seniority in our faces and saying, "We control everything in this building including your union and there's nothing you can do about it." How else are we the members supposed to interpret this situation? I fault the union for allowing these conditions to exist. It's a sad day indeed when five-years of seniority can get you a better job than twenty.

Most of us have given the company over twenty years of blood, sweet and tears on the line. With our seniority we should be coasting our last few years before retirement. Instead the company is using and abusing us by creating working conditions akin to those we hear about in China. At the rate we are working our bodies will be in no shape to enjoy our golden years. I would love to see the plant manager, my supervisor or a union official do my job for a week and then tell me I'm not overworked, as if. Would somebody please tell me again why I'm paying union dues?

I'm reminded of a song from the early seventies that went something like, "Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right, here I am, stuck in the middle with you" Only we the members are stuck in the middle with the dragon on one side and our useless monarchy on the other. We can't complain to the international, been there, done that and not a bit of help from them. We're at the mercy of the dragon and the monarchy is acting as if nothing is happening and why not? They're safe in their ivory tower, they've learned from their last ruler you can sell-out your members and be promoted to a higher office, so why should they worry?

We have only one alternative and that is to send our self-righteous, self-absorbed and self-serving clique of clones a message with our votes in the upcoming Vice-Presidential elections. We need to vote for someone who isn't a member of the clique of clones, someone who will look out for the rights of the membership and not their own self-interest.

If you're not sure who's in or who's not in the clique ask a fellow member. A couple of hints would be to read the handouts. Vote for the concerned candidate over the knowledgeable one. The knowledgeable one knows how to shaft you without you realizing it until it's too late. Remember, a vote outside the clique is a vote for the membership; we need and deserve a change.

In Solidarity,
Doug Hanscom

<< Back to Homepage