Disgruntled Autoworker
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Observations #30
December 2003

The Highest Authority

According to our Bylaws, all elected and appointed members must attend 2 out of 3 union meetings. The Good Ole Boys (Gobs) and their Appointed Army, including facilitators and quality reps, numbers about 100, the minimum required to constitute a union meeting. So when appointees didn’t show up for June’s meeting and the Chairman made excuses for them, you know the Gobs didn’t want a meeting.

They had some unresolved UAW Convention issues on the table that they didn’t want discussed. No appointees no quorum no union meeting. All issues are put off until the next meeting. The longer they can put off issues that could harm them, the easier it will be to dispose of them.

Septembers union meeting was a success for the Gobs. The membership was out numbered by more than 2 to 1. They passed on the reading of the Union Meeting Minutes for March and Executive Board (EB) Meeting Minutes for April, May and June. Now, thanks to the President, the UAW Convention issue is officially dead, or at least they think it is. I’ll be reminding you, and the Gobs, about the Convention Cookie Jar incident until all 15 no longer hold an office or an appointment, or the Truck Plant closes.

And since we have no idea what was in the Minutes, the Gobs can say that they approved all kinds of crap; like the money we donated to charity last year will be used to buy sweatshirts this year. And you can bet they’ll make up for last years derailed Christmas party for themselves and ex-Gobs too.

The information we were given for July, August and September was vague at best. Plummer may be President, but from the beginning to the end of September’s union meeting you got the feeling that he was no longer in charge of the Hall, let alone the meeting. The first thing you noticed when you walked in the Hall was the lone microphone stand that was front and center. Gone were the mobile hand held mics that gave meetings a more relaxed and friendly atmosphere. The Hall felt more like the intimidating environment and enemy territory that we expected from the previous Gob administrations.

Septembers meeting was more of a whining session than the informative meeting that they’re supposed to be. Plummer whined about his secretaries joining the Steelworkers Union and not the UAW. I guess it didn’t dawn on him that it would be a conflict of interest to have your boss as your union rep too.

Then the president and chairman wasted at least 20 minutes of our valuable time whining about my Newsletters. I was blamed for all kinds of crap, including the closing of the Truck Plant. They hemmed and hawed about everything in an attempt to put me on the defense, but I wouldn’t bite. The last time I defended my Letters the Gobs soccer crowd verbally assaulted me. I will not play their game again.

I’m not going to list everything they blamed on me, but I will tell you about a few things because I think they should be addressed. For instance, they claim negotiations would be going smoothly, and then management would bring out one of my Letters and say, “According to Doug’s Letter, you don’t have the membership’s support.” And from that point on, negotiations would go down hill.

They can’t accept responsibility for their lack of skills during negotiations, so they’re going to blame the 4-month delay in reaching a Tentative Agreement on me. As if we believe that. And apparently they think we forgot that current negotiators, Chairman Basilone and Appointee Wayne Douglas’, signatures are on that damn 99 Living Agreement that sold us out. And then there’s the Cookie Jar incident. If they don’t have our support, it’s because we’re fed up with their deceitful arrogant selfish behavior; it’s not because of my Letters, thank you very much. I’m only putting into words what the membership already knows or suspects.

Basilone told his Gobs and appointees to throw my Letters away. He said, “If it doesn’t have my name on it, throw it away.” Then something interesting happened, only a few Gobs and appointees applauded. I do believe He put his foot in his mouth with that remark and lost a few supporters in the process. Even though many of them may not agree with what I say, they respect our constitutional right to free speech.

A member said he was from a communist country and he reminded Basilone that this is America. He also said, “If it wasn’t for Doug’s Letters the membership wouldn’t know about the Convention issue.” It was a point worth noting, because if Basilone and his remaining supporters want to live in a communist country where only their views are allowed, I will gladly host a charity event for members to auction off their Joint UAW/GM jackets, shirts and mugs to help finance their travel arrangements. Bon-voyage Gobs.

He said, “If it doesn’t have my name on it, throw it away.” This could be a problem, because a recent letter with their names on it was soon followed by a second letter that admitted that the first letter was a forgery. Great, now we need to question the credibility of the few letters they do put out, which have limited information anyway, like the Minutes. It’s like everything they do is none of our business.

They also said I’m making them look bad in the eyes of the International. I don’t think so. The only way for them to look bad in the International’s eyes would be if they represented us like true Union Leaders should.

Plummer told us when he was sworn in that we will be the most informed membership ever. He said he would put out a monthly President’s Report. We got one in January of 2003 and that was it. Maybe he meant yearly. We are even less informed now than we ever were.

In fact, there is more false information around the plant than ever. A recent company Newsletter, that has an appointee on its staff who is more management than most bosses, takes credit for squashing a rumor about two semi-trucks delivering plywood to board up the Plant. Like most rumors, management and the Gobs probably started it just to keep us on edge. Since Basilone’s name isn’t on the Newsletter, throw it away.

Then there is all the misinformation about our medical benefits. The International’s Appointees told us we’d still have to pay 100% of doctor’s visits. A company letter tells us we may have a PPO option. Then the myuhc.com website and 800 numbers gave us a load of Bull and a run around for days. And then we received another company letter that says we have the option to use UHC Options PPO Network Providers to reduce out of pocket expenses. Talk about confusing. I hope this isn’t an indicator of the problems we’re going to have.

Plummer said he didn’t make any promises. Besides a monthly Presidents Report, he said he would have the Minutes posted, he didn’t. He said he would shake up appointments of those who campaigned against him, he didn’t. In fact, they recently gave appointments to Gobs siblings and suck-ups, who also campaigned against him, after he had promised one of those appointments to a supporter. He let us down big time. And then he had the nerve to say, “I’m nobody’s puppet,” I never called him a puppet, but since he brought it up...

Appointments are a hot button issue for us and the main reason we shook up the EB, but like they say, “One bad apple spoils the bunch,” and now we’re back where we started. The Recording Secretary rolled over before she was sworn in. The VP walked the fence until shortly after Plummer was sworn in, and he rolled over in less than 4 months. The Financial Secretary appears to be the only one holding his ground. Good for him.

The Shop Chairman is that bad apple. His ties to Regional International Traitors are strong. If we had shaken up his position and not the Presidents, we’d still be in the same boat, because we need to shake up both positions in order to cut those corrupt ties completely. Should we be fortunate enough to have another EB election, we’ll make the 02 elections look like a dress rehearsal for the 05 elections.

Plummer said he wanted whatever goes on in the Hall to stay in House. He said this in reference to my Letters. He sang a different tune when it was my Letters that helped him get elected. I’d keep issues in House if the Gobs did, but they don’t. They circulated several bogus letters that contained slanderous information that only they have access too. Committee people still go to supervisors first when you put in a call. And the Gobs give ex-supervisors and management wannabes appointments, and we all know that many of them will rat you out in a heartbeat. So as far as I’m concerned, nothing stays in House.

Moving on to a more pressing issue. In November of 2002, Basilone asked us to submit demands for the current Agreement. I don’t know how many demands were submitted, but I do know that 648 of us submitted a demand to have all locally appointed positions elected. The majority of us signed on for this, even the President, before he rolled over. Therefore, if “Our Demand” isn’t included in the Agreement’s Highlights, vote it down.

Don’t buy the line, “If you vote it down, the Plant will close.” The International UAW exempted the Truck Plant from the plant-closing moratorium; so the handwriting is on the wall. And don’t buy the excuse that holding elections for Joint positions will be too expensive. Elections may be costly, but the benefits of having these people represent us and the product, and not management and the Gobs, will pay for itself in the long run.

The membership is the highest authority in the union and we should have the right to elect people who will be held accountable to all of us, not just to those who appoint them. Again, if “Our Demand” isn’t included in the Highlights, vote it down and send them back to the negotiation table. What have we got to lose?

The Gobs are obviously up to no good by scheduling the Ratification Vote thisclose to a Union Meeting, and they’ve scheduled Reps from UHC to attend the December 14th meeting for those with questions about health care. In both incidences, one issue is designed to upstage the other. Don’t let the Gobs get away with pulling a fast one. Vote NO if “Our Demand” isn’t met, and attend this Sundays Union Meeting at 2:30pm.

I wish I had more positive news to write about before the Holidays, but it’s not like it’s my fault.

In Solidarity,
Doug Hanscom

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