One less is positive
I began writing and circulating these letters about a year
ago, and I think the letters have a positive effect on our
local. I was encouraged from the start when I complained
about a secondary move, and that low seniority member was
replaced by a higher seniority member. I've also complained
about union official's sons and daughters riding their father's
coat tails into nice cushy jobs, inspiring a member to stand
defiantly outside the gates soliciting signatures for a
petition regarding nepotism and favoritism.
The petition had a third of the memberships signatures
on it, there would have been more, but for some reason a
lot of members were afraid of retaliation by their union
officials. We're supposed to be able to trust our officials,
not fear them. Our petition was sent to the International
May 17th and their response was that our Good Old Boys acted
within the guidelines without consulting the members who
signed it. We learned that 753 member's opinion means nothing
compared to a few Good Old Boys.
Surfing the UAW's website, I discovered 17 out of 19 International
officials were appointed, some with multiple appointments.
I wrote a letter about it and sent the letter (Clingers
and Appointees) to the Detroit Free Press hoping they would
publish it in time for our return to work on July 17th.
The Press didn't publish it so I circulated it around the
plant August 1st with an added paragraph asking members
to send or email it to anyone at another plant, starting
a grass roots movement to stop the abuse of the appointment
Our plant manager got a hold of it and came storming down
to my workstation. I knew why he was there and without saying
a word, he realized I was unfazed by his presence and too
busy to care, so he stormed off and had the International
called in. The International sent their officials to the
plant, they hung around for a week, including at my workstation.
They didn't so much as say boo to me either, and before
they left the plant, they promoted our President to a regional
position over at North Point; go figure. Note: information
for this paragraph was provided by an appointee, time study
people and my own observations.
During the month of August we found out why our petition
hit a dead end. The very people in the chain of command
weĠre supposed to take our complaints to (Jim Beardsley,
Donnie Douglas, and VP Shoemaker) are being investigated
by the FBI for nepotism, favoritism and the misuse of funds.
The membership nationwide breathed a collective sigh of
relief, hoping maybe something will finally be done about
the corruption that has infected the UAW and its locals
these last few years. We'll have to wait and see.
In the meantime, Ms. Bird submits a couple of proposals
to change the abuse of appointing family and friends here
and at the new plant and is railroaded along with the entire
membership by our self-serving officials. As for myself,
I wasted time with my efforts to get the NLRB, the Justice
Department and Senator Sarbanes to look into our situation.
As a last resort I mailed Janet Reno a certified letter;
another wait and see.
October brings a much-needed change to the leadership of
local 239; we elected our first African American Female
Vice President. Her election victory sent a very strong
signal to our remaining Good Old Boys; "In about 16
months you can clean out your desks." Although most
of us wish it was sooner.
On October 28th and 29th I attended two conferences in
Flint, Michigan and learned that International officials
are like dead beat dads when it comes to helping members
nationwide with their problems. About 30 members from locals
across the country attended the first conference, New Directions
Movement. We compared notes about the conditions International
and local leaders of the UAW have ignored or helped their
companies inflict on their members while securing their
The second conference saw the formation of another alternative
to the one party rule we currently have at the UAW. This
second party is called the UAW Solidarity Coalition. Their
new website can be found at; http://hawk.addr.com/uawsc/index.htm
It is believed by members of the new UAWSC that our current
one- party system at the UAW is the reason for the complacency
and subsequent corruption that is now rampant at the International
and spreading to many locals nationally.
What I learned at these conferences about our International
and local official's abuses of power or lack of representation,
I'll pass along in the next month or so. Those of us in
attendance set up an email network of about 70 members nationwide,
and growing. I've already received a few articles from across
the country and distributed three of my own on 12-11-00,
they are "Clingers and Appointees," "UAW,
The Pride is Gone," and "A Gypsy's Tale; parts
1 and 2." I'll share them in the next month or two
I'm a supporter and member of the new UAWSC. Some members
are Presidents, Vice Presidents, Ex-Presidents and many
also hold a wide variety of positions in their locals. They
are not anti-union, as some of our officials would have
you believe. Visit their website and read some of the stories
from all over the country, and decide for yourself.
The UAWSC's main objective is to initiate one member/one
vote like the Teamsters. What that means is you and I should
be able to vote for who gets elected for the office of President
and all Vice Presidents at the International. The way it
is now is delegates from locals nationwide do the electing.
They're wined and dined by candidates prior to the elections,
or candidates are appointed to be successors, many of whom
run unopposed. It's a system that breeds corruption and
is in dire need of overhauling, hopefully before President
Yokich and his clones negotiate one more contract and have
us working harder than we are, if that's possible.
I no longer believe one person can't make a difference,
because my letters have had an influence on the political
make-up of this local. Positive or negative influences depend
on your point of view; one less corrupt official is positive
in my view. I've managed to step on a lot of toes with my
observations. I've also made a lot of enemies, especially
with our officials, locally and now at the International.
My mentor once told me, "If I haven't pissed off a
few officials while enlightening the membership with my
writings I haven't done my job". I believe I was successful
in my first year and hope for the same in the next.
One More Time
Four of the five candidates went into the Recording Secretary
election handicapped, because our President nominated a
fellow Good Old Boy. To further handicap the other candidates
our President was campaigning for our Good Old Boy by handing
out his cards at the retirees meeting. Our Boy was also
telling the retirees that he was running for reelection.
Excuse me, but the man had to resign to run for Vice. He
was a candidate like the others, and not seeking reelection;
more lies to influence the election.
Haven't we had enough of their crap? End the cycle of lies
and deception. He's out of office and we have another chance
to keep him out. Deliver the message one more time and vote
to send our Good Old Boy packing. He still has his appointed
position, so it's not like he'll be going on the line, damn
it. Our Boys tend to lookout for each other like that. Too
bad they don't lookout for the membership in the same way,
which is why in future elections, candidates should have
challengers, from the polls to the count, because our Good
Old Boys can't be trusted, period.
"Where you find a weak trade union official who has
been corrupted, you will also find a employer who has been
a party to corrupting him." Walter Reuther