Observations # 38 - June 05'
Friday the 13th was the last day of production for the Baltimore Truck Plant. There have been persistent rumors about its closing for years, so it’s not like we didn’t see it coming. We knew the plant’s closing was emanate when we lost 2nd shift and went through 2 de-rates that saw production and the workforce cut to about a quarter of what it was when we started building the Vans in 84.
Several members had the hindsight to cut and run when they had the chance because once the Plant’s closed, competition for transfers will be more intense with all of us out of a job at the same time. Some decided to hold out for the big money. They put off transferring until the plant closed; they’re hoping to collect $67,000 when they transfer under the extended area hire provision of the National Agreement.
With a mismanaged GM crying poverty weekly in the corporate owned Media, those who decided to hold out may have jeopardized their careers. My advice for anyone under 50 with less than 25 years of seniority is to put your names on the hiring lists nationwide, because I don’t think you’ll have the privilege of transferring whenever or wherever you want, like some seem to think.
I know I’ve been hard on the leadership of the UAW in my Newsletters, and I will continue to do so until they sever all Jointness ties to the corporations and we have the right to vote for International Executive Board Members, however, they did have the insight to add a provision in the National Agreement that offers us some protection in the event our plant closes; and that is the Guaranteed Income Stream (GIS) that guarantees us a 40 hour paycheck for the duration of the Agreement.
It would be to our advantage to take advantage of the GIS and all our hard earned UAW and GM related benefits now, because with GM crying poverty, and their Jointness Partners, the self appointed leaders of the UAW bending over backwards for them at our expense, we may not have these opportunities much longer.
With the Truck Plant closed, we are indeed fortunate to have several options in which to choose. Some will retire, or choose voluntary lay-off or community service. Some will go to school full time, while others will divide their time between school and using the Jobs Bank to do their studies. And then others have the option of sitting in the Jobs Bank.
We all have different life circumstances and should not belittle anyone for the options they choose. I say this because during the Jobs Bank orientation I had the impression that Mgt, the Gobs and others were belittling those who choose to sit in the Jobs Bank. Personally, the way I see it is; if the Gobs and their Appointees can sit on their butts down in the Work Center for the last 20 years and do nothing, we shouldn’t have a problem with those who choose to sit in the Jobs Bank.
Another interesting observations I noticed during the Jobs Bank orientation was that since Mgt had a captive audience, they used the time to feed us a bunch of crap. For instance; Mgt said that the money Toyota, Nissan and other foreign transplants make in this country goes back to their country, but the money GM makes in this country stays here.
What a load of Bull. If that were true, then where did the 5.1 Billion dollars come from that GM used to purchase and then bail out of the Fiat fiasco? And where did the money come from to buy Saab, or to purchase stakes in Isuzu and invest in Joint Ventures with Toyota, Suzuki and Daewoo. And God knows how many other foreign ventures GM has, like the GTO plant in Australia; where’d that money come from?
During the breaks several of us discussed the crap Mgt was feeding us and came to the conclusion that it would be a waste of breath to point out Mgt’s lies, because Mgt would just feed us more lies and that would result in shorter breaks. Experience has taught us that no matter how much you argue with Mgt, they’ve got all the answers, so there’s no point in wasting everyone’s time. No wonder GM’s in trouble.
On another note, according to the National Agreement we have a right to view our Personnel Records. So on the last day of production I went to personnel to view mine on the advice of a fellow dissident. I was told I couldn’t view them because everyone in personnel was busy. I have a feeling that no matter when I wanted to view my files I would not be allowed to view them on the spot. I was given an appointment for the following Wednesday. I have a problem with not being able to view them on the spot because it gives Mgt time to review and alter them before my appointment. Will they? What do you think?
Later, on my way out of the plant I encountered two groups of people with two different opinions of my slim loss for the Recording Secretary position. First I’ll tell you about the second group.
As I was walking by the Work Center, 3 Gobs were standing there chewing the fat. When one of them saw me coming, he told his buddies. When they all looked at me, I raised my arms over my head, clenched my fists and said, “That’s right, it’s me. I gave the boys a hell of a run and I’m proud of it. And I would do it all again if I had the chance.” One of them said, “Loser.” I ignored him. Another one said, “Asshole.”
Too the one who called me an asshole; I looked him in the eye and said, “Thank you. Coming from you that’s a compliment.” As I walked out the door I could still hear them hollering, “Loser.” And, “Asshole.” I kept going with a broad grin on my face and I thought of an old saying; ‘When they can’t debate you on an intellectual level, they resort to bulling and name-calling,’ just like little kids.
If the Retirees were properly informed, and my Juvenile Record wasn’t circulated at the Allison Plant, I would have walked away with the election, but the Gobs felt threatened and had to resort to thuggery. Out of 1,389 votes cast, I lost by only 11, and that is something to be proud of.
And that brings me to the second group. A member of the group stopped me and said, “Nice try Doug, but not only did you lose the election, the membership lost too, because now there is no one to keep an eye on the Gobs.” It didn’t take a genius to know what he was talking about. If you look at the elections results, you’ll notice that everyone elected is a Gob or a Gob wannabe. Not one Independent Candidate was elected.
We no longer have a frugal President or Financial Secretary to watch over our finances. Our Executive Board and Union Meeting Minutes will reflect whatever the leadership dictates, so nothings changed there. And our Shop Committee has only one less Gob. Unfortunately, we’re right back at square one. Déjà vu.
The following Wednesday I went to personnel to view my records. As I suspected, my file was altered to reflect what Mgt wanted me to see. The file Mgt showed me had a few Buck Slips and Acceptance Forms, a brief one page Medical History with a few items missing, and a couple of random documents that didn’t mean anything. The file, which appeared to be new, had less than 15 documents in it.
I questioned Mgt about this. I have 28 years with GM, where are the records from my Connecticut and Massachusetts’ plants? Don’t know. I’ve been called down to Personnel on several occasions, where are the records of that? Don’t know. Where are the records of my activities that protest the UAW Leadership’s Joint Partnership with GM? Don’t know. Where are the records of the few personality conflicts I’ve had with the Gobs? Don’t know. And where are the records of the disciplinary actions taken against me? Don’t know.
I’ll tell you what Mgt does know. They know that they can alter anyone’s file or do pretty much anything they want to us and there is nothing we can do about it. Who are we going to complain to? The Gobs? I don’t think so, been there and done that, they work for Mgt. Their Jointness Partnership is proof of that. All we can do is take our problems to the Labor Board or Justice Department and hope they resolve the issue. We stand a better chance with them fighting for us than the Gobs.
The one good thing that did come out of viewing my file was that now that I know what’s in it, Mgt can’t produce any bogus documents. Can they? I advise everyone to view his or her file at least once a year for your own piece of mind, and keep a record of your findings.
And lastly, in Observations # 36, I predicted how I thought the Van Drawing was going to turn out. I’m glad that I was wrong. All of the winners were Union Members, cool, and congratulations to the winners.
In Solidarity, Doug Hanscom
“Press on and keep pressing. If you can’t fly, run; if you can’t run, walk; if you can’t walk, CRAWL.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The future depends on what we do in the present.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Déjà vu all over again.” - Yogi Berra