UAW Solidarity House | 8000 East Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48214 | p. (313) 926-5000
© Copyright 2013 UAW. All Rights Reserved.
Levon Hardwick is vice president of UAW Local 2083, which he helped organize in 2000 at Delphi Interiors in Cottondale, Ala. Back then all the workers were temporary employees. Today the 100 or so workers are UAW members. Hardwick, 51, and his wife, who works at the Mercedes plant in Vance, Ala., have four children.
We had a bunch of flowbacks. Almost 90 percent of our workforce turned over. We had nothing but young people in the plant. Our second shift is totally new people.
The average workers on second shift are in their 20s. I feel good about it. Management tries to get away with whatever they can, so we’re having a constant battle with them. But we’re getting them up to speed.
Back then the company tried every dirty trick in the book. A lot of them are gone now, but some still try to intimidate us. If we didn’t hold them to the contract, they’d get away with it.
They know we’re looking out for each other and for all of our best interests, so they get a good feeling about the union. We make sure the company treats them fairly. We don’t ask for anything more than that.
Ted St. Antoine’s trajectory to the labor movement was far from a straight line.
After watching his businessman dad lose his radio station and music store in the Depression, he says, “I promised myself I would be a lawyer and go to Wall Street and make $100,000 a year.”
That took him to Fordham University in New York City where one of the Jesuit priests lined up speeches by UAW President Walter P. Reuther, two popes and the president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The force of Reuther’s words “was a lightning bolt,” he says, noting wryly that the head of the Chamber “had a somewhat different view.”
St. Antoine did end up becoming a lawyer but not on Wall Street. He joined the University of Michigan faculty in 1965 and has devoted his career to social and worker justice. He is the retired dean of the law school.
Among other things, that earned him an appointment by then-President Leonard Woodcock to the UAW Public Review Board, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
The PRB was established in 1957 by delegates to the 16th Constitutional Convention. Its seven members – nationally recognized experts in ethics, labor law and labor-management relations – provide UAW members with a final court of appeals on issues and disputes from grievances, election protests and any action or inaction by union officials or representatives.
The UAW was the first union to establish an independent tribunal, and though others have attempted it, St. Antoine believes it is the only such board in the labor movement today.
Reuther pointed out at its inception that the PRB “was not born of necessity.” He told delegates at that 1957 convention to be “mindful of the fact that this is not window dressing. There are no constitutional loopholes. This is not the creation of a public board of apology.”
With that mandate, the members meet about a half-dozen times a year in person and do conference calls the rest of the time. They hear about 40 cases a year.
St. Antoine’s fellow board members are Benjamin Aaron, University of California emeritus professor of law; professor Janice Bellace, Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; professor James Brudney, Ohio State University College of Law; James Jones, emeritus professor of labor law and industrial relations, University of Wisconsin; professor Maria Ontiveros, University of San Francisco School of Law, and Harry Katz, dean of the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University.
In his more than 30 years on the PRB, St. Antoine says, “I can’t put my finger on a single case in which there was nefarious conduct by the leadership. There are the kind of errors you find in any large organization, not the kinds of things that shock the conscience.”
“One of the wonderful things,” he adds, “is the union that least needs an independent review board is the one that has it.”
Single copies of the PRB annual report (publication #1391) are available upon request to UAW members for $1 from the UAW Purchasing Department, 8000 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, MI 48214.
Since voting for the UAW on June 28, 2006, Evansville PPG workers have elected officers and a bargaining committee, and been assigned their own local union number: Local 2828.
They also produce a newsletter and meet regularly in another union’s hall. They’ve formed several committees and even took political action collecting names on a petition to support the Employee Free Choice Act, the bill that would strengthen workers’ right to organize.
Although the workers are meeting their responsibilities as a union, the company isn’t meeting its responsibility. It is objecting to the election results and delaying the process of bargaining a first contract.
Like their PPG counterparts in Crestline, Ohio, and O’Fallon, Mo., these new union members in Evansville are not waiting for Congress to pass a bill to defend their right to organize and achieve a first contract. They’re taking action now.
"When the company challenged our vote, we had to keep active and keep up the participation we had when we were organizing. We didn't want people to get discouraged. It's better than sitting back," said Terry Hall, president of the Evansville unit, a general maintenance worker with 27 years of seniority.
“It’s all about our future, and our families,” said 35-year seniority furnace operator Toby Barnhart who works at PPG’s Crestline facility. “Negotiations are going at a snail’s pace, but we’re confident.”
“We have a lot of workers who will be retiring in four or five years. We want to make pensions better for them. We also have 80 temps who have been here for as long as five years. They’re praying they can become part of the union, too. We’re fighting for their future, our families’ and our kids’ futures,” said Barnhart, a bargaining committee member.
By uniting with UAW members at other PPG facilities that are already organized – and with UAW members in auto plants that receive PPG products – workers at newly organized PPG facilities are developing a comprehensive strategy to win justice at all of the company’s plants.
PPG’s main tactic for avoiding long-term obligations to their employees backfired when a plant of temporary workers voted for the UAW in O’Fallon. While these workers finish glass products in a PPG plant and the parts sport the PPG name, all the production workers are actually employees of a temporary labor agency called Staff Management.
Since going union, the 140 “temps” at O’Fallon have been working toward negotiating their first collectively bargained contract.
The ink was barely dry on a proposed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the United States and South Korea when Hyundai Motor announced it would study a plan to export pickup trucks into the United States.
That’s just one impact of this one-sided trade deal, announced in early hours of April 2. It’s the latest example of U.S. trade officials going to the table and negotiating a great deal — for the other side.
UAW President Ron Gettelfinger urged Congress to reject the agreement.
“It fails the basic test of any reasonable trade agreement,” he said.
“It’s not reciprocal.”
The proposed U.S.-Korea FTA immediately eliminates U.S. tariffs on autos and auto parts. It also phases out over 10 years the U.S. tariffs on imported pickups. But there are no guarantees that Korea will dismantle their nontariff barriers to U.S-built automotive products.
“Last year, Korea exported 550,000 vehicles to the U.S.,” said Gettelfinger, “while the U.S. sold just 4,000 vehicles in Korea. Something is obviously wrong with this picture — and this trade agreement will do nothing to make it right.”
The US-Korea FTA, as proposed, will increase the U.S. trade deficit with South Korea, currently running at $14 billion. Other auto companies oppose the deal because it will not open the Korean market to U.S. vehicles.
The UAW is supporting instead a bipartisan proposal which would require Korea to take concrete steps to open its domestic market before being granted additional access to U.S. markets.
Members of the UAW at AK Steel Corp. in Coshocton, Ohio, won improved wages and other benefits in their new three-year agreement with the company.
But just as important were language changes that gave them real input on health and safety and real flexibility in how they used their vacation time.
Local 3462 ratified its new contract on Feb. 23 in 313-52 vote. All workers received a 50-cents-per-hour wage increase in March. Most workers will receive a 25 cents to $1 increase in wages in 2008 and 2009, depending on their classification.
For the first time, workers won a joint health and safety program, said Local 3462 President John Williamson.
“There was a feeling among the members that the company really didn’t want their input on health and safety,” Williamson said. “The establishment of a joint health and safety committee gives our members a say in how they will stay safe in a very dangerous business.”
The bargaining committee also won improved vacation language for workers with five years of seniority. They will now be able to use one week of vacation in single-day increments. The old contract language required 10 years of seniority.
The company’s contribution per hour worked to the pension program increases from $1.25 to $1.80 in April and from $1.80 to $2 effective Jan.1, 2010.
Workers also received a $1,500 ratification bonus; an increase in the sickness and accident benefit; stronger grievance language and the settlement of outstanding grievances and an improved safety shoe allowance.
Health care for retirees and active workers was maintained with minimal changes.
Health and safety ignored, number of temps skyrockets and wages and benefits may be reduced
Toyota is the world’s most profitable automaker – but workers at the company’s Kentucky vehicle plant say the Japanese auto giant often ignores the human cost of industrial success.
Workers from Toyota Motor Manufacturing of Kentucky (TMMK) held a March 31 town hall forum at the Hunter Presbyterian Church in Lexington to let the public know that Toyota often gets rid of team members who get hurt, hires low-paid temporary workers, and now has a secret plan to lower wages and benefits.
“We made Toyota what it is today, and we are being chewed up and spit out for our efforts,” said Tim Unger, an 18-year veteran worker.
Toyota workers say the public has a right to know their stories because taxpayers have provided $371 million in state and local government tax subsidies since the plant first opened in 1986.
Cornelia James, another 18-year veteran worker, recalls seeing a worker collapse from the heat during one summer. Her supervisor dragged her to the side and took her place in line.
“He was cussing because she fainted and he had to go on line,” James said, adding that no one came to help her for 30 minutes until workers shut down the line and begged him to go get help.
“I did not see her back on the line; it’s like she vanished,” James said. “I began to see more and more people vanish. A few were moved to office jobs at a lower pay rate. Soon this ended, and people began to get sent home and put in the so-called ‘job pool.’ They could come back if they got 100 percent better and there was an opening.”
Instead, Toyota typically requires injured workers to accept a small settlement, sign a nondisclosure form, and show them the plant gate, the workers said.
Noel Christian Riddell, a 10-year skilled-trades worker, said temps, who now number more than 1,000, have little chance of being brought on full time, while veteran workers are pushed out the door.
“To add insult to injury, the atmosphere of respect has changed considerably,” Riddell said. “We were spoken to like children. Dignity was lost, and I felt like nothing more than a number.”
Riddell was injured on the job in 2005, but the company forced him to return before his surgeon released him, telling him he would forfeit his job if he stayed out.
Riddell and worker Manuel Eades were recently fired for allegedly accessing and distributing an internal document about a corporation plan to reduce wages and benefits. They deny management’s assertions and are fighting the dismissal. A worker panel set up by management voted they should not have been fired, but Toyota reversed its own internal disciplinary system.
The document, which Toyota does not dispute, says the corporation wants to “align” wages and benefits to other manufacturers in Kentucky – a much lower standard than what TMMK workers now earn.
UAW Vice President Terry Thurman, who directs the union’s National Organizing Department, was on hand to hear their stories, as were the Rev. John Rausch of the Diocese of Lexington, Cylister Williams, a member of the Kentucky Jobs With Justice (JWJ) Steering Committee, and JWJ coordinator Attica Scott.
JWJ has agreed to form a Workers’ Rights Board to allow Toyota workers to voice their concerns, and to recommend appropriate remedies.
“Toyota clearly has a plan for their workers,” Thurman said.
“The question is: Do the workers have a plan for themselves? These workers are beginning to realize it doesn’t have to be Toyota’s way or the highway.”
The seaside resort town of Atlantic City, N.J., reinvented itself in the 1970s as a major destination for the gaming industry.
Now casino workers are reinventing their industry with a wave of union organizing.
With two successful elections and a third on the way, workers in several major Atlantic City casinos are aiming to become the first New Jersey casino dealers to win a union contract. And dealers at casinos across the city are stepping up to get involved in their own organizing campaigns.
On March 17 dealers and other gaming employees at Caesars casino voted 572 to 128 to form their own union as part of the UAW — an overwhelming 82 percent majority.
The big win at Caesars was followed by another victory March 31.
Dealers at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino voted 324 to 149 – a 68 percent majority – in favor of UAW representation.
On March 29 a strong majority of dealers at Trump Marina, a separate casino in Atlantic City, filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board for a union representation election.
Growing interest in union organizing, casino dealers said, is driven by the high cost of living, cutbacks in health care benefits, lack of seniority and other workplace concerns.
“Many of us dealers have two jobs, because living here is very expensive,” said Amelia Rivera, who has been a dealer at Caesars for 15 years. “We cannot work like this.”
Like the gaming industry in Las Vegas, casinos in New Jersey are highly unionized, with housekeeping, restaurant, maintenance and nearly all other job classifications working with union contracts, except for dealers.
Several months ago, looking for a new approach to resolve workplace issues, dealers from New Jersey contacted the UAW, the only union in the United States currently representing casino dealers.
Dealers at three casinos in downtown Detroit are UAW members: Greektown Casino, Motor City Casino and MGM Grand.
The UAW has assisted dealers in Detroit in negotiating two successful contracts, which raised wages and improved benefits.
Now dealers at two New Jersey casinos have already voted “yes” for a union, a third election is scheduled, and dealers at casinos all along the Atlantic City boardwalk are talking about democracy in the workplace.
“The union is going to be us,” said Rivera, “standing together, voic-ing our needs, trying to find solutions to our problems and being able to talk to management.”
“We need a union in Atlantic City. The whole city is moving toward that way. Everybody should be able to see it,” said Clif Beavers, a dealer at Trump Plaza for nearly 12 years. “I think people are beginning to catch on. They’re becoming more conscious of the fact that it’s time for a union.”
• In Region 1 workers at Accu-Rig Industrial Services LLC, a machine moving company, recently joined the UAW in a card-check recognition. The company is in Mount Clemens, Mich.
• In Region 1D workers at two Plastech locations in Kentwood, Mich. voted March 16 to join the UAW.
• Workers at the Talon Court and the 50th Street facilities became UAW members in a card-check recognition. Workers in both locations produce auto parts for companies including Johnson Controls Inc. and the Big Three.
The United States should set a comprehensive policy on climate change and promote alternative fuels and the domestic production of advanced technology vehicles, the UAW told a House subcommittee.
Such an approach, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said in testimony March 14 before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality, would not only help reverse global warming and our dependence on foreign energy sources, but also maintain and create jobs in the struggling U.S. auto sector.
“The UAW believes that climate change and energy security are serious problems,” Gettelfinger told lawmakers. “The promotion of alternative fuels can make an enormous contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our dependence on foreign oil.”
The union supports legislation that would require certain percentages of all vehicles sold in the United States by each automaker to be flex-fuel capable by specified dates.
Gettelfinger also testified that federal tax incentives currently provided to consumers who buy certain advanced technology vehicles do not take into account where the vehicles or their components are built. Most are manufactured overseas and as these vehicles gain market share, it means the United States is actually subsidizing the movement of automotive jobs to other nations. He urged lawmakers to use tax or other incentives to encourage domestic production of advanced technology vehicles and key components.
“This type of approach would help to maintain and create tens of thousands of automotive jobs in this country,” he said. “At the same time, it would help to accelerate the introduction of these advanced technology vehicles, and thereby reduce global warming emissions and our dependence on foreign oil.”
The nation’s entire economy relies on fossil fuels, Gettelfinger said, so a cap on carbon emissions from all sources, including coal, oil and natural gas is needed. But a "cap and trade" program makes more sense than an inflexible, one-size-fits-all cap.
Under a market-based cap-and-trade system, a utility that switches to wind power, for example, could sell its now unneeded permits to emit carbon to a utility still using coal. This will create incentives for investment in energy efficiency and emissions-control technology.
Gettelfinger said global warming simply cannot be reduced through changes in the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) program. Requiring entire sectors of the economy to participate in a formal program to cut greenhouse gases would ensure reductions are done in an economically efficient manner while protecting jobs.
“The UAW believes that changes in the CAFE program are the least desirable option for addressing the problems of climate change and energy security,” he said.
President Bush’s CAFE proposal would require automakers to improve fuel economy across all of their product lines, a move the UAW has sought because it doesn’t discriminate against full-line automakers who build vehicles in a variety of styles and sizes. But it must contain protection against “back-sliding,” where automakers could increase the size of vehicles in their overall fleet to improve their fuel economy numbers.
That would encourage U.S. automakers to offshore the manufacture of smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles. It is vital that the U.S. retain domestic production of smaller, more fuel-efficient passenger cars for long-term energy security and for the 17,000 Americans who work in those plants.
In settlement of NLRB Case 8-CB-10545 we have revised and updated the Application for Membership card. It was alleged that certain prior language may have created the impression that union members could not file charges at the NLRB or resign from membership. The new updated language explains that the UAW is designated as the exclusive collective bargaining representative with respect to wages, hours and terms and conditions of employment. No effect has ever been or ever will be given to the old and outdated language.
APPLICATION FOR MEMBERSHIP
INTERNATIONAL UNION, UNITED AUTOMOBILE, AEROSPACE & AGRICULTURAL IMPLEMENT
WORKERS OF AMERICA (UAW)
DETROIT, MICHIGAN 48214
Name_________________________________________________________Local # ________ Unit #_______________
Tel #__________________Dept.________________SSN/Ee #________________
I hereby designate, select and empower the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), its agents or representatives, to act for me as my exclusive representative for the purpose of collective bargaining in respect to rates of pay, wages, hours of employment or other conditions of employment, and I hereby revoke every selection or designation which in any manner may heretofore have been made by me, or any other representative for any of such purposes.
I pledge my honor, while a UAW member, to faithfully observe the Constitution and laws of the Union and the Constitution of the United States (or the Dominion of Canada as the case may be); to comply with all the rules and regulations for the government thereof; not to divulge or make known any private proceedings of this Union; to faithfully perform all the duties assigned to me to the best of my ability and skill; to so conduct myself at all times as not to bring reproach upon my Union, and at all times to bear true and faithful allegiance to the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW).
CONTRIBUTIONS OR GIFTS TO THE UAW ARE NOT DEDUCTIBLE AS CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTIONS FOR FEDERAL INCOME TAX PURPOSES.
Applicant’s Signature_______________________________________________________ Witness_________________________________________________________
The Rev. John Rausch of the Diocese of Lexington is an animated speaker, perhaps because he said he only had about two minutes or less to make his point.
That point, however, hit home with Toyota workers attending a town hall forum. Rausch, the diocese’s peace and justice representative, said the rights of workers need to be respected.
“I wish we had management and shareholders here from Toyota,” he said.
His quick-paced presentation touched upon five church teachings about work and workers:
All work is divine activity.
Work is a partnership with God. “Every time you go to work you are a partner with God. Yes, you have to go earn your livelihood, but you work for self-fulfillment and to make a contribution.”
All profit is social: There are five stakeholders in corporations: workers, shareholders, management, vendors and the community: “Every one of us has a communal part of that profit. Everything together brings the profit.”
Workers have a right to a union. “Why? Because the power structure is imbalanced. The employer can do anything he wants.”
Workers have a right to a just wage, to decent work conditions, to health care, to retirement and to a Sabbath. “You’ve got to have a Sabbath. You’ve got to have some time off so you can really become a fully integrated person.”
Rausch finished his presentation more or less at the 120-second mark. He ended by saluting the workers who obviously have pride in their work, even if Toyota refers to them as a “cushion” or “variable” work force, as it does with its temporary workers.
“That pride comes because they see themselves in the image of God, and that’s exactly what every worker is,” Rausch said to cheers. “He’s not a cushion, he’s not a variable, he’s not a temp. He’s a brother and a sister.”