Disgruntled Autoworker
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Observations #35
January 2005

Knight In Shining Armor

From about August 8th to about the first week of September, someone circulated a few unsigned letters. According to a September 8th GM/UAW memo: one was an email about HBO filming the closing of the Baltimore Truck Plant, and another was a false Automotive News article about the Truck Plant getting a year extension.

There was also an unsigned letter from The Hog Heads, and a doctored Detroit Free Press article about the plant being in the running for a new product. I’ve managed to get copies of most of the letters. I don’t have the one about HBO. If you or someone you know has a copy, please contact me at AA26 in the Paint Dept and we’ll make arrangements to meet outside the plant so I can get it.

When a supervisor read the GM/UAW memo, it stated that the person (s) responsible, if caught, would be disciplined to the fullest degree, including possible discharge. I asked him, “How do we know someone in Mgt didn’t write them?” If you had seen his response, you would have thought I had accused him of writing them. He said matter-of-factly, “Have you read them?” I said, “Yes I have. There’s dissention in Mgt too, not just in the union.” He reluctantly shook his head in agreement.

At the beginning of 2004, there were rumors that Mgt was offering incentives for supervisors to retire. In the paint department alone, rumor was that 6 out of 7 supervisors were going to retire and come back under contract. Rumor also had it that they quickly changed their minds when they found out they weren’t going to make as much as contract supervisors as they had thought. If that doesn’t cause dissention among Mgt’s ranks, nothing will. Since the main topic of the bogus letters criticized the Plant Manager and members of his staff, I believe someone in Mgt put them out.

When several bogus letters with personal information were circulated about others and myself prior to our 2002 EB elections and shortly thereafter, the GM/UAW Team could care less. And when a bogus Observations newsletter with forged signatures was coincidentally circulated the Monday after my interview with our Regional Servicing Rep, who had the Chairman at his side and International Reps eavesdropping at the door, there was no response from GM. And Local officials denied any involvement, but suspiciously implemented a few safeguards to protect documents days later.

Now all of a sudden these bogus letters appear out of nowhere and the GM/UAW Team wants to fire those responsible because; “These acts are a direct violation of company policy regarding GM Information Security,” the memo stated. This has to be about the tenth double standard I’ve pointed out in the last few months. Anyway, I find it highly suspicious that the bogus letters stopped right after the GM/UAW memo was distributed. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

Personally, I believe Mgt has an ulterior motive to put out the bogus letters. Like Bush’s Patriot Act that will eventually put restrictions on free speech, the GM/UAW Team will use their GM Information Security Act as an excuse to stop me from writing my Newsletters that have influenced our elections and the membership’s perception of their GM/UAW programs and policies. I cite the severe discipline I was given in September as the reason for my coming to this conclusion.

Gossip and rumors are like wildfires, they will spread from wall to wall and plant to plant in a flash. When I was disciplined on 09.14.04 and put on the street for the Balance of the Shift (BOS) plus 5 days, it didn’t take long for my friends at the Allison Plant to hear about it. You could hear the cheers from the Good Ole Boys (Gobs) in both plants as they got word that Mgt did to me what they’ve been powerless to do because of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA).

On September 22nd I returned to work amid rumors that I was put on the street for writing the bogus letters. That’s convenient. It shows that they really thought this through. I think the majority of you know who started the rumors. The truth is Mgt alleges I violated *Plant Rule # 29 in Observations # 34 when I wrote that the Tickets and T-shirts for UAW/GM Day last June were partially funded by Joint Funds. Since I lacked documentation to back up my claim, I was severely disciplined.

There are so many UAW/GM Joint Programs, like the UAW/GM CHR Magazines, the UAW/GM NASCAR Quality 500 and the UAW/GM Education programs just to name a few, but there is no disclosure or accountability on any of them. This is information we have a right to know, because I believe the 10’s of millions of dollars put into Joint Funds annually is money that is being made off of our backs. I don’t know about you, but when I see the UAW/GM logo on anything, including a Day at the Ballpark, I assume it’s funded by Joint funds.

Mgt alleges that the tickets for UAW/GM Day were not paid for by Joint Funds. If that were true then it would be an honest mistake, right? Not according to Mgt. Instead of providing me with proof that my statement violated Plant Rule # 29 so I could print a retraction in my next Newsletter, somebody in Mgt took it personally and went for the throat and gave me an ultimatum.

A Labor Rep, a supervisor, my committeeman and I were present at the disciplinary inquisition. Since I’m not allowed to record the proceedings, there are no witnesses to back up my claim that I was given an ultimatum, so bare with me as I try to explain. The Labor Rep told me that for violating Plant Rule # 29, I could go back to work with 3 days on my record if I didn’t file a grievance, however, if I filed a grievance, I would get the BOS + 5 Days on the street. Some choice.

Everyone present knew that the paint dept was experiencing a manpower problem that day, and I believe they were counting on my loyalty to the job. If I didn’t file a grievance and went back to work, I’d be allowing Mgt to skip a few steps in the grievance procedure. Then I wouldn’t have a leg to stand on if I decided to take this issue to the NLRB.

I don’t have a problem with GM or the UAW as separate entities, but I do have a problem with GM/UAW Jointness, and with the UAW International and Local Leadership’s determination to uphold their Jointness Partnership with GM no matter what the cost is to the membership. Therefore, since I obviously can’t count on my Union Reps to protect me, and my career takes priority over loyalty to the job, much to the chagrin of everyone present, especially my committeeman, I decided to file a grievance and take the BOS + 5 days on the street. The next morning I went to the NLRB.

I couldn’t believe how fast this all went down. One minute I was doing my job and the next I was on the street. And truth be told, it was all highly suspicious, like when you put in a committeeman call and they report to the supervisor first. Automatically you suspect they’re collectively working against you. The same thing happened to me in reverse. Without being put on notice, I was told to report to a Labor Rep in the Paint Office and my committeeman was already there. I suspect that the GM/UAW Team had already decided what they were going to do, with or without a grievance. I also believe they’ve already decided the outcome of the grievance, which is currently at the 3rd step.

Obviously Mgt skipped a few steps in the disciplinary procedure. First there is the Verbal, then Written Warning, then the BOS + 1 Day, 3 Days, 5 Days, 2 Weeks, 30 Days, then Dismissal. Mgt took me straight to the BOS + 5 Days for writing what I believed was true, and until proven otherwise, I believe it’s still true. Without providing documentation to back up their claim, Mgt alleges I was warned twice about violating Plant Rule # 29. I disputed their claim by stating that I was not warned, period. And I’ve said as much in a letter to the Shop Chairman.

On the 16th, 2 days after being put on the street, I wrote the Chairman that I believe Mgt violated my contractual rights by waiting 7 days to discipline me. According to Paragraph 77 of the NA, "Grievances must be filed within 3 working days of the layoff or discharge.” I believe the same holds true for Mgt; they have 3 days to put me on notice or to discipline me, not 7. I believe there is a question of timeliness.

With the help of a Michigan friend, I also directed the Chairman to a statement (G-6) from The Office of the Umpire; “Knowledge that a statement is false is a necessary element in punishable falsification. Otherwise any good faith mistake would subject an employee to penalty.” Like I said, "Until proven otherwise, I believe what I wrote is true.”

Taking Past Practice into account, I believe the Umpire’s statement says it all. Therefore, if after a little help and research I could find just cause for Mgt to drop the discipline, and for the chairman to settle the grievance, why haven’t they done so? I believe the GM/UAW Team is stalling. In the meantime they’re circulating lies and BS about the Truck Plant’s closing in an attempt to sucker me into putting out another newsletter so they can fabricate another bogus charge to justify firing me. I don’t think so.

In my opinion, I don't believe I was disciplined for violating Plant Rule # 29. I believe the GM/UAW Team is retaliating against me for having an opinion and expressing it in my Newsletters. They want us to be good little sheep by doing what we’re told and keep our mouths shut while they heard us straight to the Jointness Slaughterhouse, not this black sheep thank you very much.

All of this leads me to believe that since the Gobs can’t silence me because of the LMRDA, Mgt is acting as their “Knight In Shining Armor” and coming to their rescue. I believe Mgt severely disciplining me for such a trivial statement is proof that they’re trying to shut me up or fire me before my opinions influence another EB election. Mgt violated Plant Rule # 29 when they lied about issuing me warnings for allegedly violating the same rule. You can’t get anymore ironic than that.

Therefore, in light of the above circumstances, I will not be circulating any more newsletters in the plant. I will not give the GM/UAW Team the opportunity to fabricate another bogus charge. However, I will be posting them on the Internet at; (http://hometown.aol.com/disgruntedmember/myhomepage/writing.html) I ask that those of you with Internet access please inform your coworkers, because they need know how far the GM/UAW Team will go to silence dissention.

In Solidarity,
Doug Hanscom

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