Spitting on Reuther's Graves
It’s been six long months since my Baltimore coworkers and I were forced to make the one hundred and forty mile round trip commute to the Wilmington assembly plant. On a good traffic day, counting the drive to and from the commuter parking lot, most of us spend three to four hours on the road to work an eight hour shift. On a recent commute back to Baltimore, we encountered a five mile back up that was caused by drivers on the southbound side of Route 95 slowing down to rubberneck an accident on the northbound side. Apparently people can’t resist the urge to view carnage. This accident added another hour to that day’s commute, turning our eight hour workday into thirteen. It’s a wonder we have any energy at all when we get home. We’re not compensated for travel time, ware and tear on our vehicles, or for gas and tolls that can add up to $7,500 or more a year, which is not tax deductible. We were hoping for a little relief in that department, oh well.
Since Baltimore is sixty seven miles from Wilmington, it would have been a big help financially if GM had kicked in a little compensation for us to travel outside the fifty mile radius of the Baltimore plant as is specified in the GM/UAW National Agreement. However, according to international and local union officials, “Baltimore’s Area Hire was extended beyond the fifty mile radius about fifteen or twenty years ago; therefore, none of you are eligible for compensation.”
Not that we don’t trust our union officials, but for the last six months we’ve repeatedly asked those same officials for documentation that extended our area hire, but for unknown reasons, they have ignored our request, which makes us wonder if said documentation exists. Which raises an interesting question for members in Wilmington who were forced to Baltimore a few years ago; did UAW officials use the same non-existing area hire extension document to deny Wilmington’s members compensation? Also, and I mean no disrespect to our Trenton coworkers because they deserve the $23,000 they received for transferring to Wilmington, but there’s only an 8.6 mile difference between Trenton and Wilmington and Baltimore and Wilmington, so why were Baltimore and Wilmington’s members denied compensation and therefore discriminated against when they were forced to each others plants? No wonder we have attitudes.
I asked UAW President Gettelfinger the last question on 01.19.07, when he and Secretary Treasurer Bunn made themselves available for an hour Online Chat on the UAW’s website. I’m not gullible enough to believe he’d answer, but I asked anyway. He didn’t answer, and he also didn’t answer one about stopping the Concession Train we’ve been on while he’s been riding the Gravy Train. Nor did he answer one about implementing democracy in the UAW with One Member/One Vote. No surprise there either. If we had the right to vote, we just might kick his butt off that Gravy Train at sixty miles an hour. Did I say might?
January was the third month in a row that Gettelfinger’s used the www.uaw.org website for his so-called Online Chats; however, there’s been speculation among real union activist like those at the www.factoryrat.com, www.soldiersofsolidarity.com and www.futureoftheunion.com websites as to if Gettelfinger is actually sitting there and answering questions, or are his fellow Good Ole Boys (Gobs), Appointees and Yum yums answering for him? I decided to make a statement to the above and ask a couple of follow up questions. He ignored the questions, but his ego wouldn’t let him ignore the statement.
I wrote, “I imagine a row of Appointees sitting around answering our emails, not you. How about doing it with a live feed? Or better yet, why don’t you come around to our locals for town hall type meetings?” He wrote, “Guess what? You’re wrong. We’re (Bunn) really here! And this is a great way to communicate with our membership. Thank you for caring enough to send in your comment.” I thought; since when is communicating through a closed door a great way to communicate? It’s him alright. I ignored his arrogance and wrote, “You misunderstand my caring for fear of where you’ve taken our union. Shame on you all.” He ignored my comment.
Before signing off, I sent in the following, “If you’re really answering the questions, then Gobs and Appointees must be doing the asking. Can you get any more scripted? Oh yeah, I was at the last two Conventions, yes you can. Shame on me for thinking otherwise.” This too he ignored. If you’re not sure of what I mean by scripted, visit www.disgruntledautoworker.com and read my 33rd and 34th UAW Convention Reports. They’re a bit long, but from beginning to end you’ll find that the Conventions were as scripted as George Bush’s town hall meetings.
I didn’t know about November and December’s chat fests until after they were over, otherwise I would have participated. I heard about Januarys’ through an email from a friend who’s on the UAW’s email list. I scanned the previous chats for other questions or comments of interest. A Member asked, “Why haven’t things been changed so retirees can vote on contracts?” Gettelfinger wrote, “Delegates to the last Convention (34th) reaffirmed that active workers should have the exclusive right to vote on contracts.” For Your Information; Retiree’s right to vote on contracts affecting them was shot down by Gettelfinger’s dominating Army of Gobs at the Convention.
Another Member wrote, “It seems to me that GM is pitting the local unions against each other using the hope of getting a new product as bait to gain concessions. What is your opinion on this and how can this type of bargaining be avoided?” Gettelfinger wrote, “UAW Vice President Cal Rapson held a meeting in Detroit with the UAW GM Presidents and Chairpersons. The topic you raise was discussed in depth at this meeting. Strategies were developed with the local leadership to address this issue on an ongoing basis.” As recently as 1999, Baltimore’s local 239 out-conceded Indiana’s local 933 for a new transmission plant with the UAW International Executive Board’s, Gettelfinger’s, approval. If you think that’ll change anytime soon, I know where there’s a bridge for sale.
Another Member asked, “What’s your opinion on Joint Ventures?” Gettelfinger wrote, “I would need to know the details of the situation before forming an opinion on a particular joint venture.” Even if he knew the details, he would spin the answer because international and local Gobs owe their very existence to the massive army of Appointees who staff those ever proliferating UAW/Corporate joint ventures.
And a member wrote, “Our Local has never had any real solidarity teaching. What can be done to address this issue?” Gettelfinger wrote, “Our education department staff is more than eager to assist your local. Please have your local president send a request to your regional director, who will follow through.” If your local president requests solidarity teaching assistance, count on your local being overrun with international thugs who will oust your president, see below, and replace him with one who promotes apathy and the UAW’s anti-democratic pro-corporate joint venture policies.
The last thing the UAW/Corporate Machine wants is membership solidarity. Anytime one or more members stand in defiance, or in solidarity against the UAW/Corporate status quo, they’re either assimilated into the union’s hierarchy or made supervisors, i.e., Donny Douglas, former member of New Directions, and Harold ‘Hawk’ Wright, former member of the UAW Solidarity Coalition, both are now members of the UAW’s Spin Machine. And if assimilation fails, Gobs and Appointees will be dispatched to undermine, by any means necessary, any and all efforts counterproductive to UAW/Corporate Jointness, i.e., Local 2036 President Billy Robinson and his members who were abandoned for defying Gettelfinger’s sell-out policies, and Local 594 Chairman Gene Austin who was ousted for his anti-jointness pro-membership policies.
The book, The Brothers Reuther, quoted Walter as saying, “One must be careful never to destroy one’s opposition. You may defeat them but your goal should always be to convert them, never to destroy them.” Apparently this quote means nothing to Gettelfinger and his Gobs, because it’s obvious that they are spitting on the graves of the Reuther brothers by lying and distorting the truth, and for buying off, assimilating, and destroying the opposition in the name of UAW/Corporate Jointness.
Enough is enough, please visit and explore the websites listed in this article. Join their email list to stay informed and share the articles and info with your coworkers. Knowledge is power. And put your name on the UAW’s email list so you’ll know when to ask Gettelfinger that burning question his ego just can’t ignore, that is if he dare grace us with the opportunity again. I guess he’s too busy selling us out and giving concessions for an Online Chat in February. Maybe he’ll find the time in March. Take a stand and get involved. Doing nothing begets more of the same.
In Solidarity, Doug Hanscom – DisgruntedMember@aol.com