Disgruntled Autoworker
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Observations #28
September 2003

Vote Them Out

When I saw Management and the Zoneman hobnobbing in the Shop Chairman’s doorway on the day of my inquisition, I knew they had already decided my fate and it didn’t matter what I had to say in my defense. So when management gave me a Written Reprimand for bogus reasons, and the Zoneman filed 2 grievances that don’t mean squat anymore, I knew what they were up to. They were going to try to build a case against me to stop me from publishing my Newsletters, or fire me, but I had other plans.

I went to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) during the July shutdown. I told them about the Written Reprimand and everything that lead up to it. At their request, I Faxed them copies of my notes, and I sat through a 3 hour deposition that resulted in the NLRB filling out a charge of discrimination against GM for issuing me a written reprimand for my protected concerted Union activities in relation to my Newsletters.

There aren’t too many issues that the NLRB will take on, but discrimination based on Race, Religion, Sex, Free Speech, etc., is one of them. So on August 6th when I was called into the Committeeman’s office and the Appointed EEO Rep was giving the Zoneman all the credit for getting my Reprimand dropped, I wasn’t about to burst her bubble by telling her I went to the NLRB. I would rather do that in this Letter, because I didn’t know if the Gobs were keeping her out of the loop, or if she was playing me for a dummy too.

Because that is what Management, the Gobs and their Appointees do, they’ll look you right in the eye and lie. They think we can’t see through their crap. After my first conversation with the Appointed EEO Rep in June, I knew she was giving me a load of bull and I couldn’t depend on her for help. That’s why I took my problem outside the plant.

The bottom line is Management and the Gobs didn’t expect me to go to the NLRB. They thought I was dumb enough to let the Gobs handle my problem. I don’t think so. Management dropped the reprimand and the Gobs settled the grievances. I nipped this problem in the bud by going to the NLRB. Thanks to the advise of the UAW Solidarity Coalition, my actions forced management to drop the reprimand, not the Zoneman.

The Appointed EEO Rep, like all Appointees work for the Gobs and Management, not you and I. The first time they don’t do what they’re told, they lose the Appointment. And that’s another reason why Appointed Positions should be elected. When they don’t act on our behalf, we should be able to vote them out.

The Right to Dissent

During the inquisition, management claims that 1400 members and employees read my Letters. I only put out a 1000 copies. Apparently people in management and the Gobs are using company copiers to make the other 400. That is so cool, I appreciate their help in getting out the truth.

If I were caught using a company copier for my Letters, you could bet that I’d be fired on the spot, but if a Gob, an Appointee, suck-up, management, or their siblings were caught making copies of my Letters, or anything else for that matter, no one would say a word. There is such a double standard around here.

Speaking of which. Management force-fed us their propaganda in a mandatory Diversity Class. And as we all know, diversity in the Plant is based on a double standard. If you make unwanted sexual or racial remarks to a coworker, you’d be fired for the first offence because of the Zero Tolerance policy. But, if you’re a Gob, an Appointee, suck-up, management, or one of their siblings, you’ll get a slap on the wrist again, and again.

And the right to believe in your God or change religious beliefs, or to come out of the closet, or not, the right to pierce or tattoo body parts, and even the right to dissent are forms of diversity, yet, management and the Gobs tried to prosecute me for sharing my dissenting thoughts and views through my Newsletters. Obviously they don’t practice what they preach.

On a lighter note; a few members of the Body Shop chose to sit in the last 2 rows during their Diversity Class, leaving the first 2 rows empty despite management’s insistence that they move forward. When they returned from their first break, an Appointee, who is also an ex-supervisor, removed the last 2 rows of chairs in an attempt to force everyone up front.

The Body Shop members were not intimidated, they displayed true solidarity when they returned the 2 rows of chairs and made it known that they were not happy with the Appointee, who sat quietly with egg on his face for the rest of the class. The choice of sitting in the last rows, like sitting in the back or the front of the bus is also as much a form of diversity as a person’s race. If given a choice, we’d elect to have the Appointee put back on the line.

Strike Vote & Unresolved Issues

A strike vote was on the agenda for the June Union meeting, but nobody showed up. I think it was because most of us counted on others to carry the vote, and even though we don’t trust our International and Local Officials, common sense should tell everyone it’s a good idea to give them the right to strike, and fortunately those who voted, voted yes.

Another reason no body showed up is because most members didn’t know about it. It wasn’t posted plant wide like it should have been. There may have been a posting here and there, but only enough so that the Gobs can say that it was posted. A friend and I walked the Plant and saw only a few.

And in spite of it being full of mostly useless information, and read by most of the membership, the Union’s Newsletter, The Assembler, did not have one word in it about the strike vote, not one. What’s up with that? I believe this was done on purpose, because the Gobs have some unresolved issues on the table concerning the Convention Audit Results, and they did not want those issues brought up and thereby acted on unfavorably.

When the Audit Results were first made public at the March Union meeting, the Chairman had his Appointed Army there in force in case a vote was necessary, but the President, wanting to be accepted by the Gobs, rolled over and recommended that the membership accept Gettelfinger’s ruling, as is. And in doing so, the Gobs had to pay back less than $5,000 of the $19,000 they misused for their trip to Las Vegas, not bad.

There were less than 100 people at the June Union meeting, not enough members for a quorum. Under normal conditions, the Chairman’s Appointed Army is large enough to have a quorum, but when they stayed away in droves, you knew something was up. The Chairman said, “I can’t make my people drop whatever their doing to attend meetings.” He sure didn’t have a problem getting them to drop everything to attend March’s Union meeting though. And you can bet he’ll have them there for September’s union meeting too.

Since we didn’t have a June Meeting, we did not hear any reports from the President, Chairman or any of the Committees. Nor did we hear any of the monthly Executive Board Meeting reports. All of which are very important. We need to hear these reports so that we know if they are trying to sneak something by us like last years Christmas Party that was for past and present E-Board members only, which we voted against.

We now have six months worth of Reports and E-Board Meeting Reports that we absolutely must hear, no matter what. The Gobs may pull an Alfred and try to have the Reports dispensed with by saying, “We need to discuss the National Contract, Local Demands or whatever.” Don’t buy it. These Reports are important and we need to hear them, even if we have to extend the meeting.

The Issues

During the month of August, 3 questions were sent by certified mail to the President and the Shop Chairman at the Union Hall. The first question to the President was; Did everyone who was overpaid for the UAW Conventions reimburse our Local’s Funds prior to the expiration of the 30-day time limit? And if anyone didn’t, I’d like to know who.

The President responded that that question will be addressed in the Financial Report at the September 14, 2003 Union Meeting at the Union Hall at 2:30pm. I will be there and I will be listening.

The second question to the President was asked at the March Union Meeting, it was; How many other trips did Union Officials take that they were overpaid? The President skirted it by replying, “I don’t have that Information at this time.” He was asked a second time in a Certified Letter and he responded, “I feel that the membership needs to look ahead to the future instead of revisiting the past.”

Most of you are not aware of this, but it was the President who told us about the $19,000 it cost to send the Extra People to the UAW Conventions. And it was the President and Vice President who encouraged us to sign the Letter that requested the International Audit. The VP was going to sign it also, but regrettably, she was talked out of it because she was an E-Board Member.

Below is my response to the President’s response in a certified letter-dated 08.19.03:

In your August 12, 2003 response to my August 5, 2003 Letter, you stated, “I feel that the membership needs to look ahead to the future instead of revisiting the past,” in reference to the question, “How many other trips did Union Officials take that they were overpaid?”

You didn’t have a problem revisiting the past when you and the VP encouraged 4 fellow members and I to write, sign and send a letter to the International UAW in Detroit that requested the Local Audit in the first place. Based on your response, it’s okay to revisit the past when it benefits you, so you can hold the Audit Results over the heads of the Shop Committee, but it’s a different story when revisiting the past would benefit the membership, so they know who, and how far back the misuse of our Local’s Union Funds go.

And I don’t agree with your reasoning that, “This being a contract year the Local and International Unions don’t have the time and resources to go through each piece of paper, for each trip, to try and gather that information.” To that statement I say, “Bull.” Because if you were the President you promised the membership you’d be, and if you did only half of the things you promised when you took office, the International UAW would be all over you and this Local’s Books like a cheap suit looking for any improprieties to boot your butt out of office, contract time or not. So don’t play me for a fool.

The question, “How many other trips did Union Officials take that they were overpaid,” was timely when it was asked at the March 9, 2003 Union meeting, but you dodged it by responding, “I don’t have that information at this time.” And just because there wasn’t a quorum at the following June 8, 2003 Union meeting, that does not excuse you from providing the membership and I with that information.

As a member of this Local Union, in good standing, I feel that it is my right, and the membership’s right; to know the answer to the question, “How many other trips did Union Officials take that they were overpaid?” Your utmost attention and speedy reply would be greatly appreciated.

We believe the President used us to get the International to do the Audit. Then he used the Audit Results to get the upper hand on the Gobs, or, to gain the acceptance of the Gobs. Either way, as a result of his actions our Local’s Funds are short over $15,000 on just the Conventions alone. So the question deserves an answer.

I have not received a response to the second letter. Maybe he’ll address it at the September 14, 2003 Union Meeting when he gives his President’s Report.

The third question was to the Shop Chairman and it was asked at the March Union Meeting also, it was; Who is on the Negotiations Committee? The Chairman said, “It’s up to me who I put on the committee.” The questioner said, “I don’t question your authority, but I’d like to know who’s on the Committee?” The Chairman said, “I haven’t chosen the Committee yet.” The Chairman was sent the same question by Certified Mail almost a month ago and he has not responded.

Incidentally, the Skilled Tradesmen voted to have the Financial Secretary on the Committee, but the Chairman made excuses for him and why he couldn’t be on the Committee. Sounds like he’s a rogue following in the footsteps of our rogue ex-president. Which makes me wonder if those Traitors Alfred and Miller are acting as his advisors during Negotiations. If they are, boy are we in trouble. You can bet he won’t include that information in his Report, but I sure someone will ask. Will you be there? I will.

Local and International Issues

We got burnt on our last Local Contract when we were conned into a Lifetime Living Agreement that turned the plant into a sweatshop for everyone except the Gobs, the Appointees, the suck-ups, and management and the Gobs siblings. So it remains to be seen what the Chairman and his Negotiation Committee plan to do about the 648 Membership Demand to have all Locally Appointed Positions elected. The Chairman was quoted as saying, “I’ll retire before I let that happen.” It seems to me the Chairman has only 1 choice; retire, because this is a Demand supported by the majority of the membership.

And on the National front, we should be voting shortly on the National Contract. Every time we visit the Doctor, we are reminded of how we got burnt on the 1999 National Contract. We were promised in BOLD print that our Health Care benefits were “improved,” only to find out later that we would lose our HMO’s and PPO’s. Unless we “know” what is in the entire contract, we should vote “No.”

Don’t settle for Contract Highlights. And don’t be fooled by up-front Lump-Sum Payments, the threat of a strike, or a strike. This should be a Hot Issue for even the Gobs. If the Gobs tell you to vote for the less than 30-page wafer thin Highlights without knowing what is in the entire 694-page National Contract, then they are dumber than they think we are. Don’t count on others for this one, “Vote ‘No’ until you Know.”

Controversial Suggestion Awards Drawing

A fellow Activist was asked by management to be on the Suggestion Committee. She said, “Yes, but if I smell anything fishy, I’m off of it.” A week later management said, “You’ll be relieved to ‘Draw the Winners’ names in the Awards Drawing.” Now wait a minute. During Management’s captive audience GMS Class, we were told that those doing the drawing would be picked randomly. So how is it random if she knows days in advance that she’ll be drawing the names of the winners? The Activist smelled Fish and refused to participate.

And that raises the question of who else knew in advance that they would be drawing the names? If you look close at a couple of those doing the drawing, and at a couple of the winner’s names, you’ll notice that there are more than a few suck-ups involved. No offence to those who were truly selected at random, or to those who are legitimate winners, but controversy is still controversy.

The Awards drawing was supposed to be on August 27th at 11:15am, not 11:05am or 11:10am, but at 11:15am. I waited until 11:12am before I went into the Cafeteria to witness the Drawing. I didn’t want to go in any earlier, because I felt that if I were chosen to draw a winner, that too would be suspicious, and I didn’t want to play a part in another one of their questionable Joint Programs.

I went into the Cafeteria at 11:12am and it looked like the Awards Drawing was already done. I asked the Appointed Suggestion Committee Rep if the Drawing was finished and the Appointed Communication’s Rep interrupted and said, “Yes, we had 7 witness and they wanted to get it over with so they can get back to their jobs.” Yeah right. I walked away shaking my head, and I wondered if one Appointee cut himself, would the other one bleed? As far as I’m concerned, controversy still surrounds the Suggestion Awards Drawing.

Lowlife Punks

After work on August 13th, I went out to the south parking lot and discovered I had a flat tire. With the help of a fellow Union Member, we started to change it. Another Member pulled up and offered the use of his portable compressor so I could inflate the tire and drive home or to a garage. As fast as the air was pumped in, it was leaking out. I discovered that the tire was slashed.

As we were changing the tire, the Chairman’s words were echoing in my ear, “It’ll cost you more than that.” No, I don’t think he did it, but I think the Gobs know who did. When I told my Gob Committeeman about it the next day, he didn’t say, “Are you sure it was slashed?” or “How do you know you didn’t run over something?” Instead the first words out of his mouth were, “Only One?” You be the Judge.

I know I’ve upset the Gobs, the Appointees, the suck-ups and their supporters with the truth, but it takes a special kind of person to take their frustrations out on my personal property. They can’t dispute what I write on an intellectual level, or be man (or woman) enough to confront me face to face, so they sneak around the parking lot like Lowlife Punks and slash my tires. Way to go Cowards.

Naturally the surveillance cameras didn’t see a thing, however, if they wanted to know what you were smoking, like during the drug bust a few years ago, they’d be able to zero in on the far side of the lot and see if you were puffing on a Cigarette or a Joint. Go figure.

In Solidarity,
Doug Hanscom

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