Disgruntled Autoworker
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Observations #7
January 2001

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 perk.

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 own positions.

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 also.

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


In Solidarity,
Doug Hanscom

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