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Disgruntled Autoworkers Observations # 10

Bogus Union Meetings

     THE CONSEQUENCES OF OUR Living Agreement vary; not only is it non-expiring, it threw seniority out the window by eliminating dozens of classifications, and it increased our workload. It also combined several Skilled Trades classifications. And the most troublesome of all is the creation of over a hundred Small Work Groups.

     Each SWG has a coordinator and they are required to attend weekly meetings with management where they're given a list of topics that are to be discussed at that weeks SWG meeting. Everyone's presence is mandatory and failure to attend will result in disciplinary action.

     We began our meetings almost 3-years ago and management dictates the topics they want us to discuss, like Health and Safety, Quality, Production, Cost, etc. All of these topics have become repetitive, because they've been beating us on the head with these issues during the 30-minute weekly me etings, and again for 30 more minutes during the end of the month Safety meetings.

     We also have a mandatory 2 and a half hour welcome back meeting after the Christmas and New Years shut-down, and another hour or more welcome back meeting after the July 4th Summer Shutdown. Then there is the State of the Business meeting every Spring that can last 2 hours or more.

     The majority of these meetings begin the same way. First they want us to recite their Safety Absolutes; Safety is the overriding priority, All accidents can and must be prevented, and, In GM-Baltimore, we recognize and acknowledge that Safety is a shared responsibility.

     Then they want us to recite their Quality Absolutes; Not passing on a defect to the next work station is my RESPONSIBILITY, It is the responsibility of the TEAM to use the right processes, systems, methods and tools to produce Quality in station, and, Insuring the Quality of our product we deliver to our costumers is a leadership responsibility.

     Not many of us recite their Absolutes, but with each monthly meeting you can't help notice that there is a growing number of our coworkers who've become automatons. They drone along with management and their Lackey who is conducting the meeting, oblivious that they are even doing it.

     Sitting among us is management and our Union's Good Ole Boy's Jointly Appointed Suck-ups. You can tell who they are by the phony enthusiasm with which they recite management's Absolutes. They make you so sick you want to run away before they infect you too.

     There is something else that these captive audience meetings have in common besides the usual boring issues. They love to serve us a portion of alphabet soup sprinkled with a mind numbing numeric spice. Their Lackey begins by saying, "We set a goal of 85% for our FTQ DRR, but you only achieved a DRR of 60%. And you failed to meet our FTQ DRL goal of 92% by a whopping 30%. We know you can do better. Therefore, until you do, we'll hold on to these Die Cast Models of our Mini Van we promised you for Christmas."

     After the holidays, they must have had a change of heart, because they gave us a sweatshirt with their new slogan on it, "Together, on The Road to Tomorrow," and "Building our house brick by brick." The shirt is nice, but what are they going to do with all the Toy Vans?

     When they snatched the Toys away at the last minute like they did, we came to the conclusion that someone in management is a few bricks shy of a load, because they're purposely setting us up to fail by overloading our jobs and then setting unattainable goals. Some of us have decided to wear their shirts inside out as a form of protest.

     They finally decided to give us the Toy Vans on April 3rd. Apparently we met their goals. But, being true to form, they attached a condition to them. In order to get your Made in China Van, you must go to the Facilitators Office on your own time and sign for them. I will not grovel for something that the Plant Manager said would be delivered to the SWG meeting by the facilitators, nor will I sign for it.

     Anyway, management's Lackey continues to drone on, "The Baltimore GMVM Plant is falling behind the rest of the country on quality. We must increase our FTQ DRR by 25% and decrease our FTQ DRL by 30%, and we must meet our Health and Safety Objectives set forth by the MMC if we are to be competitive."

     Furthermore, "You will not chat, sleep, read the paper, or talk on your cell phone during these meetings, or you will be disciplined." Sometimes this crap feels like it goes on forever, because these numbers and letters are just a small sampling of what they throw at us, and they expect us to understand or even care about what they're talking about. Consult your Jointly Appointed Maximo Rep to decipher this recipe for Gobble de Gook stew.

     Then they make us watch film after film about their Absolutes and other topics. A particular film that comes to mind is one that someone in management shot during their vacation. It was set in a Fish Market where the employees were having a good time entertaining shoppers by joking with them and each other while throwing fish around the store. The basis of the film was to showcase the positive attitudes of the stores employees.

     Apparently our Plant Manager is so unhappy with our attitudes that he decided to stop production a few days later to show the film a second time on the Plant's TVs. The man who shot the film, introduced it, and we believe if the camera had pulled back, it would've reveled he had a gun to his head, because he showed signs of stress and his enthusiasm wasn't into showing it again.

     And not long ago Management sent everyone letters saying, "You were not hired as part time help, so you will come to work every day." Their letter offended the majority of us, because we do come to work everyday, in spite of the fact they are trying to work us to death. Which is the main reason they have an attendance problem in the first place, duh!

     Yes, we have bad attitudes. Management gave them to us. And no, we weren't hired as part time help and we weren't hired to be CPA's either. We could care less what their letters and numbers mean. We were hired to assemble quality vehicles to the best of our ability, and we go home confident that we did a good job.

     Management's last Quality Absolute states that quality is a "leadership responsibility." So I believe that if we don't meet their DRR's, DRL's, or whatever goals they set, it's nobody's fault but theirs. Therefore, they can take their die cast Chinese Vans and convoy them "Together, on the road to where the Sun don't shine."

     The sad fact of the matter is we believe management is using all these meetings to brainwash us into thinking that should Quality turn to crap, it's our fault. Or should we be injured on the job, that too is our fault, because we were warned to be on the look out for carpel tunnel syndrome symptoms, slippery floors and fork trucks. And their Jointly Appointed Quality, and Health and Safety Reps would back them up 100%.

     The SWG meetings are supposed to be the result of a Joint UAW-GM agreement, however, the Unions involvement is limited to visits by Jointly Appointed Facilitators, most of whom are management wannabes who will rat you out in a heartbeat while look for ways to eliminate your job. And they want us to rat each other out too. We despise them and they're not welcomed visitors. So in reality, there is no Union involvement.

     And here is the most troublesome part; management is making a mockery of our Union by having us conduct the SWG meetings like Union meetings. We have a leader, an agenda, a Recording Secretary to record the minutes of the meetings, old and new business, and then the meeting is adjourned. The only thing missing is the Pledge of Allegiance, but management probably figures reciting their Safety and Quality Absolutes covers that.

     If Union members were disillusioned with Union meetings before the Living Agreement, they're definitely dead set against them now. I mean, why attend a legitimate 2-hour Union meeting when we are forced to attend 3-hours of management's bogus Union meetings a month and countless hours of brainwashing sessions a year?

     These meetings are more about management exorcising their dominance and control over the membership through propaganda and brainwashing than they are about Quality and Safety. I don't know how our International and Local Union Officials can live with themselves for allowing management to Dishonor and Disrespect the Union and the Membership like they do.

     UAW President Select Gettelfinger and the rest of the UAW's Appointed Traitors, past and present, should be stripped of their positions and privileges for collaborating with the enemy on the Joint Programs, and for Living Agreements that rob the membership of their seniority rights and the right to determine their own destinies.

     You can fight back by taking advantage of one of your few remaining rights as a UAW member. The right to dissent. Stop complaining to each other about how bad things are and write to Gettelfinger, VP Shoemaker, or any one of the UAW's Appointed Traitors at 8000 E. Jefferson Ave. Detroit, MI 48214.

     Even if you think it's a waste of time, give them a piece of your mind anyway. Write about any of the above topics, or your recent loss of benefits, or anything else that's bothering you, or simply send this letter. We need to let them know that the ranks of dissention are growing in the UAW, because sooner or later, they will have to deal with us. Fight back! Fight back! Fight back!

In Solidarity,
Doug Hanscom, DisgruntedMember@aol.com

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