Disgruntled Autoworker
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Observations #27
June 2003

More BS about SWGs

When we were first conned into this Bill of Goods called a Living Agreement and the Small Work Group meetings that came with it, we were told the SWGs would be democratic. Rumors were rampant that we would have the authority to vote a member out of the group. Or at least that is what they wanted us to believe.

In January I asked management about democracy in the SWG, because I wanted to know if a member could be voted out of the group for making the work environment difficult for other group members. The next day management told me that a member couldn’t be voted out.

A member cannot write up another member, so seeking advise from the Union’s Good Ole Boys (Gobs) would be pointless, especially if the member who is the problem is one of the Gobs Boys. I decided to talk to the department supervisor. She said, “If there is a problem with a group member, I will have a talk with them.” As if that would do any good. Then she said, “The concept of the SWG is still in its infancy. We need time to work the bugs out.” Yeah right, talking to her was a waste of time.

“Still in its infancy,” she said, like it was a child. And I suppose it is another illegitimate child like Living Agreements and all the other Joint Programs that were spawned by the Tramps of Solidarity House during their ongoing affair with the Auto Industries Executives. May they all face hellfire and damnation for eternity for a partnership that was never sanctioned by the Union’s membership.

On the following Tuesday I told management I wanted their man in charge of SWGs to attend next weeks SWG meeting because I wanted to discuss democracy in the SWGs. Despite what I’ve been told, I wanted the extra week to talk to other group members about the SWG Rep’s visit and democracy.

Of course, management jumped the gun, they had their Rep show up at the next days SWG meeting instead of the following week. He comes storming over to our meeting with 3 members of Management’s Appointed Facilitators Team, the Team’s Leader, the Reps counterpart and an ex-committeeman, and 2 junior facilitators.

While the appointed facilitators hovered at one end of the table like vultures waiting for the kill, the Rep perched at the other end with his arms folded across his chest in an intimidating manner. And when he spoke he was loud, boisterous and arrogant, like many in management are. In a loud and boisterous tone he said, “Is there a problem here?”

I said, “Hypothetically speaking, if you have a member in the group that you want out, for whatever reason, how do you go about it?” In a loud and boisterous tone he said, “Who do you want out?” Again I calmly said, “Hypothetically, if you want a member out, how do you go about it?” And again in a loud and boisterous tone he said, “Who do they want out? You?” Obviously the man doesn’t understand the word hypothetical. I wonder sometimes where management gets these people.

Anyway, to cut through all of the Rep’s bullcrap, the bottom line is group members have absolutely no say whatsoever about a member who refuses to work with the rest of the group, even if that member’s actions are deliberate, malicious or harmful. Management, however, has the authority to decide who stays and who is out of the group, they proved it twice in the Trim department last year.

And management’s abuse of their authority over SWGs is creating a hostile work environment throughout the plant, which is in direct violation of the UAW-GM National Agreement. Meanwhile the Union’s Gobs are shamefully silent about all of this. Maybe their busy taking odds on where the next violent outbreak will be.

I was told the theory of SWGs is that if a member is not carrying their load, the rest of the group is supposed to carry their load and hopefully humiliate the non-carrying member into carrying his share. What a load of Bull. Apparently, management and the Gobs don’t watch Jerry Springer. If they did, they’d know that some people can’t be humiliated.

If anything, the more you carry for the non-carrying member, the more that member will expect. I’ve found that the only way to deal with the problem member is to refuse to carry their load, which will eventually slow down or burden the rest of the group, affecting quality and production, and thereby getting managements attention, thus forcing them to deal with the non-carrying member like they should have in the first place.

Cost Conscious

I don’t like criticizing quality, but they make it easy. Management is so cost conscious they’re skimping on supplies. For instance, the group coordinator will order 10 boxes of material for the week and management will undermine the coordinators judgment by cutting the order to only 4 boxes, and 2 days before the order comes in, we run out.

I can’t count how many times in the last year quality was sacrificed because of the lack of supplies, and management seems to take it in stride like it doesn’t matter. And they’ll further sacrifice quality for the almighty dollar by making us use a cheaper inferior material, despite solicited opinions, and complaints by affected members.

It’s impossible to care about quality, or be cost conscious under these conditions. And to make matters worse, GM’s CEO Rick Wagoner made $14.7 million in 2002, more than double what he made the year before, and he is projected to make over $21 million this year. They want us to be cost conscious so they can throw gross amounts of money at this guy. Give me a break. Where is his cost cutting effort?

Mini Van Repossessed

Speaking of quality. You may have noticed the new High Intensity Lighting that was added on the Final Line a few months ago. They are used to highlight defects in the paint finish and improve quality and customer enthusiasm. There’s only one problem, we’re still using Low Intensity Lighting in the Paint department.

I brought this to managements attention. I said, “Wouldn’t it make more sense to put High Intensity Lighting in the Paint department first so we can catch defects before they reach the Final Line?” He said, “Placing the High Intensity Lighting on the Final Line first was a Political decision.”

He didn’t have to say anymore. By a Political decision he meant someone high up in management sacrificed quality for “Show and Tell.” They would rather impress visiting corporate Big Wigs like Briggs and Harting than insure quality and customer enthusiasm. Whoever’s responsible for that dimwitted decision should have their Chinese Toy Mini Van repossessed. See what I mean? They make criticizing quality so easy.

Survey Says

I don’t know about anybody else, but when I received a personnel letter from the Plant Manager about a JD Power and Associates survey that rates one manufacturers quality above another, I wondered about the validity of the survey and those who believe in them. We are constantly bombarded in the media about government and corporate corruption, so it made me think, “Did GM, Ford and Toyota bribe the surveyors?” And, according to the survey, Toyota’s in the lead with only 19 PPH (problems per hundred) per vehicle over GM, does that mean they sweetened the pot more? (Remember when PPH used to mean Personnel Paid Holiday?)

And speaking of the media, I have about as much faith in a JD Power and Associates Survey as I do an ABC, CBS, CNN, FOX or NBC News survey. All of which are about as reliable and as trust worthy as the Enquirer. The next time I receive the results of a survey from the Plant Manager, I hope it’s a survey about the validity of surveys. Enquiring minds want to know that, Tim.

Corrupt Joint Program

Here we go again. It looks live, but looks can be deceiving. They give the barrel a roll and you can clearly see all the cards with people’s names on them going around and around. The barrel stops, a name is pulled, and the TV screen goes blank as the first $1000 winner is announced. And the screen remains blank while you can clearly hear the barrel turning as the next 6 winners names are put up on the TV. How do they draw the other names with the barrel still turning?

I asked where the Suggestion Awards drawing was held, and I was told it was held in the Communications Room so it would be easier for the Appointed Communications Coordinator to film. Excuse me, but what’s more important, making a job easier for an Appointee with an already easy job, or giving the membership a sense honesty and fairness in another corrupt Joint Program? Last week 14 members in the Paint department submitted a common sense suggestion; hold the Suggestion Awards drawing live in the cafeteria during lunch. It remains to be seen if they implement it.

In Solidarity,
Doug Hanscom

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