Disgruntled Autoworker
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Observations #24
February 2003

Ongoing Investigation and Determination

In Observations # 22 I told you I would keep you updated on our progress of attempting to audit our Locals books because of the Gobs unapproved $19,000 trip to Las Vegas for the UAW 33rd Conventions. Here are the latest developments.

On November 30, 2002 we sent the Recording and Financial Secretaries Certified letters requesting to view all pertinent information pertaining the Conventions. Neither of them responded to our request, instead, on December 9th, we received a response from President Plummer. It follows:

In response to your official request for an appointment to view all pertinent financial information pertaining to the UAW 33rd Constitutional and Bargaining Conventions, we would like to inform you that we can’t allow you to view the vouchers. Due to Government policy on the Privacy Act it is not possible for you to view that information. You can view call letters and minutes if you supply us with the dates and subjects for which you are interested. At that time we can highlight the information you are seeking and make the process faster for all involved.

Our letters were quite clear about what we wanted to see. And, I don’t think the Government Privacy Act applies to Union information that we, as members have a right too. Case in point: On 02.16.99, the Department of Labor for the state of Maryland sent all members of Local 239 a copy of a Decision that affected our right to unemployment benefits for 07.04.98, and attached to that Decision was the name and address of every member of our Local. I still have my copy.

The only information missing from the DOL’s Decision was our Social Security and Phone numbers, and most of us have our phone numbers listed in the Phone Book. As for our Social Security numbers, all you need to do is check the Seniority List for those. And our Social Security numbers are also available for all to see during elections. So give me a break on the Government Privacy Act.

And what’s that about “highlighting the information” in the Minutes? That isn’t acceptable either; because that means other more important information will be Blacked Out. If they want to black out Names, Social and Phone numbers, fine, but as dues paying members we have a right to know what’s in the Minutes and where our dues dollar is spent. For instance, how do we know we’re not paying for gambling and escort service?

Obviously I was upset that the President responded to our request, so on 12.17.02 I sent the Recording and Financial Secretaries a second Certified letter. I also sent carbon copies (cc) to the UAW chain of command, and the Department of Labor. I’ve condensed and combined both letters to save space. Should you wish to read them separately, contact the recipients for a copy. Maybe you’ll have better luck than we did. Second letter follows:

Dear Ms. German and Mr. Warble,
December 17, 2002

We do not appreciate the Local President responding to the letter we specifically sent to you requesting information. Furthermore, as Recording and Financial Secretaries of our Local, it is your duty, not the Presidents, to provide us with the information we seek. After several verbal and documented attempts, it is our right as dues paying members in good standing, to now demand copies of all Executive Board (EB) meeting minutes expending Union dues under Art 46 of the UAW Constitution. We demand copies all EB Meeting minutes and Union meeting minutes from January of 2002 to December of 2002, especially copies of the EB minutes that approve the expenditures for (Dorsey, Miller, Swanner, Robinson and Welsh) the Non-Delegates and Alternates, a list of who stayed for the Bargaining Convention and who didn’t, the Call Letter for the Conventions, and the Letter that was signed by EB members and sent to the International stating that there was a misuse of Union funds, but not a misappropriation of funds. We also demand that we be allowed to view all Vouchers pertaining to the UAW Constitutional and Bargaining Conventions. And we would like this information as soon as possible. “Your” immediate responses would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

As of the date of this letter we haven’t received a response from the Recording or Financial Secretaries, nor have we received a response from the Local President. Although, on 01.21.03, we did receive a response to a letter that we sent on 11.16.02 to Dan Sherrick of the UAW’s Legal Counsel, and we cc’d it to the UAW chain of command, and the Department of Labor. I asked him to look into why we don’t have the results of the audit yet.

Mr. Sherrick didn’t respond, but UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn did. Response follows:

Your letter of November 16, 2002, has been referred to my office for response. The audit report was forwarded to the president, financial secretary, and the trustee chairperson in late October. It is my understanding that the audit report was to be presented to the membership at its December meeting. There are certain issues, however, which remain unanswered in the audit because it requires interpretation from the President’s Office. All of the information pertaining to the convention expenditures has been forwarded to the President’s Office to aid them in their determination. Should you have any further questions regarding this matter, please contact the Administrative Assistant to the President. (A name and number was provided.)

The audit report was presented to the membership at the December Union meeting. However, before it was read, we questioned the President to make sure the Convention issue wasn’t snuck into it and resolved in an underhanded fashion, he assured us it wasn’t.

Ms. Bunn’s letter states, “There are certain issues, however, which remain unanswered.” The issues, as we see them, are very important and they are the reasons for our pursuit of justice. They are:

  1. We know for a fact, from an EB member who was present at all EB meetings, the issue of sending the 5 extra people to the conventions was not discussed. Therefore, it’s a safe bet to say that the decision to send these extra people was secretly made in a Back Room or Bar Room, and did not include all EB Members.
  2. Article 7 Section 3 of Local 239 Bylaws clearly states: All decisions and recommendations of the EB shall be referred to the next regular Membership Meeting for approval. Several others and myself were present at all Union Meetings prior to the Conventions, and the issue of approving the $19,000 expenditure to send the extra people “was not mentioned” by the Recording Secretary in her report of EB meeting minutes, and therefore “was not” approved by the membership.
  3. We paid to send 13 people to Las Vegas. The 8 we elected should have stayed for both Conventions, however, the 4 Alternates were sent home early, and the 5 extra people were allowed to stay for the Bargaining Convention. This was a selfish decision by President Dorsey and Shop Chairman Miller that did not benefit the membership whatsoever.

Therefore, why should we pay for 5 extra people to go to Las Vegas for a 2-week party? At December’s Union Meeting, the Recording Secretary read in her report that they will pay for their wives. That is not the issue. The issue is, they blatantly deceived this membership and misappropriated $19,000 of our funds for personal gain. Therefore, they should reimburse our Local funds for the entire amount.

If our past experiences with the International EB are an indicator, I expect them to sweep this issue under the rug and Appoint Dorsey and Miller to International positions like they did that traitor Alfred. So I anxiously wait for Mr. Gettelfinger’s determination that is, suspiciously, taking way too long to make…To be continued…

Here’s a bit of irony. In December the UAW requested that ULLICO (Union Labor Life Insurance Company) release a report by former Illinois Governor Thompson regarding allegations of improper stock trading by certain members of their Board of Directors. ULLICO has yet to release the report, so on 01.30.03 the UAW filed a lawsuit to force them to release the report. (To read about the lawsuit, go to www.uaw.org)

"We need to know the facts," said UAW President Gettelfinger. "If we've learned anything from Enron and other corporate scandals that have unfolded during the past year, it's that shareholders must be vigilant in demanding transparency, openness and accountability from corporate officers and directors."

What a hypocrite. Gettelfinger makes us wait 4 months and counting for the results of our Local audit, but he files a lawsuit after only 30 days. If we’ve learned anything from Gettelfinger, it's that UAW members must be vigilant in demanding transparency, openness and accountability from International and Local Traitors.

In Solidarity,
Doug Hanscom

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