Disgruntled Autoworker
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Observations #29
October 2003

03 Highlights, The First Lie

On September 30th, 5 Appointees from the International UAW came here to present the new 2003 National Contract to the membership in 4 sessions. The 1999 National Contract was presented in 1 session on a Saturday morning at Patterson High School on Kane Street.

The 2003 National Contract should have been presented in 1 session as well, because questions that were asked during one session were not asked during another. And I believe it would have been in the best interest of the membership to hear all the questions and answers in order to make an informed choice before voting yes or no on a contract that will have a profound impact on our futures.

I also believe the decision to hold 4 presentation sessions instead of 1 was deliberate. The GOBs of the International knew they would have a problem getting the contract ratified because they exempted the Truck Plant from the plant-closing moratorium. To increase their odds for ratification, they used the old “divide and conquer” tactic to secure a yes vote on a contract that benefits the corporations more than us.

I’d like to think our local officials stood up to the International GOBs and insisted they hold only one session for the benefit of the membership, but I’d be fooling myself. Our local officials are Gobs too, and they are as responsible for the selling-out of the membership as the International GOBs.

During one session a member expressed the opinion he was disappointed that local officials weren’t presenting the contract. He said to Appointees from the International, “I don’t know you. I didn’t vote for you. And I’ll probably never see you again. But what I’d like to know is; Do our Local Reps agree with what you’re saying 100%? And if they don’t, I’d like to hear the difference.”

The Appointees leader, John Fedewa, went off on a tangent about this being a National contract, not a Local one, and that it was their job to present it to us. And he said that he presented the national contract to us in 99. The member said he didn’t remember Fedewa being here. Come to think of it, I don’t remember him being here either. If he was, he was on the sidelines, because if my memory serves me right, ex-president and traitor Charley Alfred presented the national contract to the membership in 99.

Local 239 President Plummer addressed the member by saying something about there being no way that in one week anyone in the Local Bargaining Committee or Joint Programs could comprehend the national contract enough to present it to the membership. The member said, “Look, I don’t want to argue, but I just want to hear from the Local Reps.”

That was the perfect opportunity for Plummer to address the membership and tell us what he thinks about the national contract, but he took the easy way out and didn’t say anything. Sometimes not saying anything sends a powerful message too. He sat down and looked right at home with the International’s Appointees.

During one session I said, “According to the 99 Highlights, our Health Care benefits were improved and Co-Pays were resisted. Less than a year later we found out that it was a lie, we lost our HMO’s and PPO’s and our Co-Pays went up.” With the 99 Highlights in my left hand I said, “This was a bunch of lies.” And with the 03 Highlights in my right hand I said, “So how do we know that this isn’t a bunch of lies?”

David Shoemaker, who rode his father’s coattails into an International Appointment under questionable circumstances, answered that there was language in the contract that allows the corporations to reevaluate the cost of our Health Care annually and make adjustments accordingly. Which could affect some areas of the country and not others.

I said, “Its not fair we have different benefits across the country. We’re all in the same Union, so we should all have the same benefits. You guys have 100% reimbursement on Doctors visits…” Shoemaker’s kid cut me off by saying, “No we don’t.” I said, “Yes you do.” Again he lied by saying, “No we don’t.”

I said, “GM has plenty of money to throw into Joint Funds, but they don’t have any money to put into our benefits?” Appointee Fedewa, not wanting to go there, said, “I think your question was answered, so if you have another one…” I said, “I’m not satisfied with the answer.” He said, “I’m sorry.”

A member said, “On Health Care; How come we don’t lock GM in? How come we’re giving them the option to go back and make changes?” Appointee Fedewa said, “That’s not in this agreement, but it’s been in the agreement since I’ve been around.” Then he goes off on another tangent about negotiating 5 agreements in 5 days with 5 of the world’s largest corporations and says, “I know what you’re saying about locking them down. One of the biggest problems during negotiations was what it cost to buy Health Care for 300,000 employees.”

GM is making money hand over fist and putting $10’s if not 100’s of millions into Joint Funds annually, their buying controlling interest in foreign owned business’ like Daewoo, and paying millions in salaries and bonuses to top executives, yet International negotiators are concerned about what it cost GM to insure us?

The International’s Traitors and their Appointees are so wrapped up in corporate ideology and dependent on Joint Funds that they don’t have a clue about what it means to be Union Reps. They are literally in a world of their own making. They negotiate their own contracts, their benefits are much better than ours, and contrary to what that lying kid of Shoemaker’s says; they do have 100% reimbursement on Doctors visits.

And here’s another kick in the ass. When we retire, our pensions are locked into whatever the rate is at the time, however, when International Officials retire; they get COLA on their pensions, for life. When I mentioned this to Shoemaker’s kid, he said, “I don’t know about that.” You can bet that he does. You’ve got to hand it to these Appointed Traitors, it took a lot of nerve to come here and sell us a Contract that isn’t good enough for them, but they expect us to buy it Hook, Line and Sinker.

We may have taken the hook, but they went home with the line and sinker. They didn’t get 90% or better for ratification that they usually get, and I have serious doubts they went home with as much as 58% as was reported by local officials. I hung around for the vote count, but election committee chairman and International Appointee Fred Swanner wouldn’t let me within 25 feet of the count, and Appointee Ron Diehl was dogging me to make sure I didn’t get too close. It was like they had something to hide, so I cannot confirm the count.

When I told International Appointees that it’s unfortunate more members didn’t attend the Ratification presentation, Appointee Fedewa said, “I don’t think your backing is quite as deep as you think it is.” With 42% voting No Locally, and 21% voting No Nationally, if you can believe the Local and International counts; I don’t think the International’s backing is quite as deep as he thinks it is. I do believe they are loosing ground.

One of the final questions had to be a set up; you decide. One member asked, “If we ratify the National Contract, would it keep the Truck Plant open?” Appointee Fedewa said, “No, ratification of this contract will have no affect on the Baltimore plant.”

It was the answer to the follow up question that convinced us local Gobs had to be involved in getting it asked. The same member asked, “If we vote down the local contract, will it affect the closing of the Truck Plant?” Appointee Fedewa said, “Yes it could.”

We have no idea what will be in our upcoming local agreement, yet this Appointed Traitor from the International told the membership, if we vote it down, our plant will close. If that’s not a threat, and a plug for the local Gobs bargaining committee and the local agreement, in spite of the truck plant being targeted for closing, I don’t know what is.

The majority of our local’s Gobs just stood there stone silent during all 4 sessions and let the smart ass arrogant Internationally Appointed Traitors sell us out with lie after lie. Maybe they were on their best behavior so that when the Truck Plant closes they’ll get International Appointments too.

I joked with coworkers days before the vote by saying that the $3,000 signing bonus is more than double the signing bonus we got in 99, so does that mean we’ll get twice the screwing? On October 3rd, the Detroit Free Press posted an article at, http://www.freep.com/money/autonews/cola3_20031003.htm It states that the COLA Diversion of 2 cents per quarter will go to the corporations and its shareholders, and not to securing pension improvements for current retirees and surviving spouses as was stated on page 2 of the 03 Highlights.

In other words, after taxes, we get less than $1,800 of the $3,000 signing bonus, and we’re paying the corporation and its shareholders back $600 a year for 4 years. I’m not a wiz at math, but I know the difference between a bonus and a loan. If I had known UAW President Gettelfinger was going to get us a loan from the corporation, I could have introduced him to a Loan Shark who would have given us a better deal.

The ink wasn’t even dry on the Highlights when we found out about the first lie. What worries me is; what other lies are in the Highlights? Past UAW Presidents Fraser, Bieber and Yokich were Traitors in their own right, but Gettelfinger’s “Five in Five” deal makes them look like the Patron Saints of Unionism. We should be calling Solidarity House (313.926.5000) to demand his resignation.

In Solidarity,
Doug Hanscom

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