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UAW objects to million-dollar payout for Tropicana executives


Bankrupt company has refused fair negotiations with dealers and slot technicians

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — The UAW has filed an objection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Jersey, seeking to block a plan by Tropicana Casino and Resorts, Atlantic City to pay more than $1 million in "retention bonuses" to a group of top executives.

The UAW/Atlantic City Dealers Union has been in negotiations with Tropicana management since December 2007, seeking to win a fair contract for the casino's unionized dealers and slot technicians. Tropicana filed for bankruptcy in April and is under the conservatorship of retired New Jersey Supreme Court Justice Gary Stein.

Stein is being paid $600 an hour for his work as conservator. According to the objection filed in court by the union on May 20, he has repeatedly informed members of the UAW/Atlantic City Dealers Union that Tropicana Atlantic City is "not in a position to enter into a [labor] agreement with the UAW."

"Judge Stein is unwilling to commit … to long-term obligations," the objection states, while the company is in bankruptcy and a sale is pending to new owners.

At the same time, management has substantially increased dealers' costs for health insurance benefits and has threatened to lay off approximately 75 dealers in response to Tropicana's financial performance.

"Tropicana has told us they can't commit to a contract, and they might need to lay off some dealers to save money," said Tropicana dealer Al Welenc. "But now they can afford to sign a million-dollar bonus agreement with top executives? That doesn’t make any sense.

"The workers chose casinos as their career, but they have been stifled by management to the point where some workers haven't gotten raises in 13 years. Full-time jobs are almost nonexistent."

Contrary to U.S. bankruptcy law, Tropicana's plan to reward insiders does not require any measures of performance by the executives, who would receive a combined total of more than $1.1 million in cash payments. The executives would receive the money, according to court documents submitted by Tropicana, even if the casino was never sold and the company was forced into liquidation.

"These are corporate insiders trying to line their own pockets at the expense of the rest of us," said Larry Diehlman, a slot technician at Tropicana. "Tropicana's not going to succeed by shoveling money to the same people who sent the company into bankruptcy in the first place. We need a fair contract for the people on the floor who meet the public, maintain our slots and make this place run every day."

A hearing on the company's plan to pay "retention bonuses" -- and the union's objection to it -- will take place before the Bankruptcy Court on May 27.

The UAW represents more than 800 full- and part-time dealers and 23 slot technicians at Tropicana. Eighty percent of dealers voted in favor of UAW representation in August 2007; 90 percent of slot technicians voted to become part of the UAW in October of the same year.

More than 8,000 gaming industry workers are members of the UAW in Atlantic City, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan and Rhode Island.

The UAW/Atlantic City Dealers' Union objection to Tropicana's "retention bonus" plan can be found here.




UAW reaches tentative understanding with U.S. Treasury and General Motors


DETROIT -- The UAW has reached a tentative understanding with the U.S. Treasury and General Motors on an addendum to the 2007 UAW GM collective bargaining agreement. The tentative understanding contains modifications to the labor agreement and to the independent Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) trust.

Details are being withheld pending explanation and ratification meetings for UAW GM members, which are in the process of being scheduled.

UAW endorses new agreement on fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards


WASHINGTON — A new agreement on fuel economy and greenhouse gas standards is a "major step forward" for the U.S. auto industry, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said today.

"This sets the stage for building a new generation of cleaner, more fuel-efficient vehicles here in the United States," said Gettelfinger, who will attend a White House event today for the announcement of the agreement, along with UAW Vice President Cal Rapson, who directs the union's General Motors Department.

"This is good news for our members, for consumers and for the environment," said Rapson.

The groundbreaking agreement, announced today by President Obama, is supported by automakers, the UAW, environmental groups, the federal government and the state of California. It calls for a single national standard on fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions for cars and light trucks, to be issued jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

"President Obama and his team showed real leadership by bringing everyone to the table to reach an innovative agreement," said Gettelfinger. "The final standards will be stringent, but will have support throughout industry, government and the environmental community. The standards will treat full-line manufacturers fairly; maintain a distinction between cars and light trucks; apply to all automakers, and continue credits for flex-fuel vehicles," said Gettelfinger. "These standards will also continue incentives for small-car production here in the United States — a capability that is vital to protecting jobs and our nation's long-term energy security."

"Members of our union have never accepted the false choice between protecting our jobs and protecting our environment," said Rapson. "With smart policies that bring together all stakeholders, we can have both. That’s what this agreement accomplishes, and that's why we support it."

The UAW, one of the nation's most diverse labor unions, represents workers in automobile, aerospace and agricultural-implement manufacturing, as well as workers in health care, higher education, gaming, public service and other industry sectors

UAW casino dealers take their message to the airwaves with new television ad


Benefits are cut as their CEO pulls in $39.6 million

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Casino dealers in Atlantic City — members of the UAW/AC Casino Workers Union — stepped up their media campaign in the ongoing labor dispute, launching a television ad entitled "Lost Benefits," which highlights the erosion of worker benefits at Bally's and Caesars.

The ads will run in the Philadelphia media market in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, as well as in Atlantic City. The TV ads will supplement recent newspaper and radio ads in the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Press of Atlantic City and on New Jersey and Philadelphia radio stations.

The ad features casino employees telling their side of the story. Since voting to unionize two years ago, their benefits have been cut and contract negotiations have been stalled by uncooperative management.

Times were not nearly as tough for Gary Loveman, CEO of Harrah's, which owns Bally's and Caesars. Loveman collected $39.6 million in total compensation in 2008.

"The delay in contract negotiations in Atlantic City has gone on far too long," said Joe Ashton, director of UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey as well as parts of Pennsylvania and New York. "Workers voted yes to form a union two years ago, and they have a right to bargain a reasonable contract to improve their standard of living. These advertisements will help the public understand what Atlantic City's dealers and slot technicians are going through.

"Dealers and slot technicians deserve what most Atlantic City casino employees already enjoy: a fair wage, good benefits and a health plan that provides quality coverage. We are serious about getting a contract now."

Full- and part-time dealers at Caesars, as well as keno and simulcast workers, voted by overwhelming margins to become part of the UAW more than two years ago. In the months following, casino dealers, slot technicians and other casino workers at Bally's, Trump Plaza and Tropicana also voted yes for UAW representation.

More than 8,000 gaming industry workers are members of the UAW in Atlantic City, Connecticut, Indiana, Michigan and Rhode Island.

TV advertisements featuring Atlantic City casino dealers can be viewed at

UAW says C-17 protects America – and America's industrial base


LONG BEACH, Calif. — The U.S. Senate should join the House of Representatives to fund continued production of the C-17 cargo plane for the U.S. Air Force, UAW officials said today.

"This is the plane that moves our troops to the front lines and backs them up with food, supplies and heavy artillery," said Bill Schultz, chairman of UAW Local 148, which represents more than 2,000 workers at the Long Beach Boeing factory where the C-17 is assembled.

"Our members are proud to support the men and women of the U.S. military," said Jim Wells, director of UAW Region 5, which includes California. "But there’s much more than pride at stake here. Because the C-17 performs its mission so well, and because of the current demands on our military services, these planes have been flying more than their programmed flying hours. Current C-17s need to be replaced faster than planned -- which is why funding is needed for new aircraft in this year's budget."

"This aircraft is essential for our national security," said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs the union's Aerospace Department. "And if the Air Force does not order planes this year, Boeing will shut down production at Long Beach, the last large military aircraft facility in the United States.

"If we sacrifice our capacity to build these planes," said Settles, "in the future we'll have to depend on European Airbus or Ukrainian Antonov factories to supply essential equipment to the U.S. armed forces."

Approximately 30,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs are related to the C-17 program in California and 42 other states, with a total economic impact of more than $8 billion.

"This is about protecting our country and protecting our industrial base," said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. "We need planes today to move people and material. We also need a secure U.S. industrial base for tomorrow to make sure our nation has the ability -- within our own borders -- to build whatever is needed for the men and women of our armed forces."

The 2009 supplemental appropriations bill for the Department of Defense includes funding for eight C-17s. The U.S. Senate subcommittee on defense appropriations will consider the supplemental legislation on Thursday.

The UAW is one of the nation's most diverse labor unions, representing manufacturing workers in automobile, aerospace and agricultural implement facilities, as well as workers in health care, higher education, gaming, public services and other industries

UAW members win severance settlement at ZF Boge; lawsuit continues against illegal plant closing


PARIS, Ill. -- Members of UAW Local 2343 will finally get the vacation pay and retention bonuses they were promised as a result of a settlement agreement announced today between auto parts manufacturer ZF Boge and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB.)

The settlement is a result of three separate unfair labor practice charges filed by the UAW regarding unpaid severance. It will not affect the union's ongoing breach of contract lawsuit against ZF Boge in U.S. District Court.

The union's lawsuit, which remains pending in the U.S. District Court in Urbana, Ill., claims that the company's June 2008 decision to close its Paris manufacturing facility violates the terms of a May 2007 agreement between UAW members and ZF Boge. Union members had granted concessions in exchange for a specific promise from the company to keep the plant open.

Instead, the company reversed course after implementing the concessions agreed to by the members of Local 2343 and announced that the Paris plant would close, with work being moved to a non-union facility in Hebron, Ky.

"First they broke our contract by closing our plant," said Local 2343 President Willie Runyan. "Then they refused to pay anyone who would not sign a paper giving up any right to legal remedies."

"This is America," said Local 2343 member Jim Starr, a 20-year machine operator at ZF Boge. "You shouldn't have to give up your rights just to get what you were promised in the first place."

More than 50 members of UAW Local 2343 will now be eligible for unpaid vacation and retention bonus payments, which range from $200 to $350 per year of service. "In times like this, every dollar helps, but that doesn't mean you sign your rights away," said Robert Stewart, a member of Local 2343 and a five-year fork lift operator at ZF Boge. Stewart was laid off from the Paris plant, which makes rubber parts for automotive manufacturers, in September. "We did the right thing by sticking together. The company violated our contract, and we deserve our day in court."

"Settling these unfair labor practice charges was the right thing to do," said Dennis Williams, director of UAW Region 4, which includes Illinois. "Now, ZF Boge should take the next step and settle our lawsuit by honoring their contractual commitment to keep the Paris facility open."

The NLRB is requiring the company to post a notice explaining the settlement in the plant and to mail the same notice to all laid-off employees.


Chrysler Update: Bankruptcy judge moves back hearing on motion to approve procedures to May 5


UAW to seek seat on Unsecured Creditors Committee

As mentioned in the prior update, the Bankruptcy Court began a hearing on May 4 to consider the motion to approve the procedures for providing formal notices to creditors and retirees in connection with the various agreements, including the sale of Chrysler operating assets to the newly-formed company. That new company is to be owned by Fiat, the U.S. Treasury, and the UAW retiree benefit Trust Fund in accordance with the agreements described in the prior update. This motion is the first step in seeking court approval of the various agreements between Fiat, the United States Treasury, Chrysler and the UAW.

The judge this morning decided to postpone consideration of these matters until 2:30 p.m. on May 5. Also scheduled for May 5 is a “formation meeting” for the Unsecured Creditors Committee. The UAW will be seeking a seat on that committee at the meeting on May 5.

Chrysler Update: Chrysler Bankruptcy Process



  • The UAW ratified agreements, on April 29, 2009, that contained adjustments to the contract and modifications to retiree health care. The agreement adjustments and modifications were negotiated with the United States Treasury and Chrysler/ Fiat. 
  • The overall agreement with Treasury includes many components -- the Fiat alliance, the new government loans, continuation of the pension plans, the labor agreement modifications and the new retiree medical agreements. The UAW is a full partner in this process and is supporting all these agreements.


  • In order to obtain quick court approval of these agreements, the Treasury Department urged Chrysler to file for bankruptcy on April 30, 2009.


  • The agreements regarding the retiree health program were submitted to the bankruptcy court on Sunday, May 3, 2009, along with the agreements on all the other components.


  • The UAW, Treasury, Chrysler, Fiat, and Chrysler’s largest banks are all supporting quick approval of these agreements. The UAW has hired bankruptcy experts from two New York law firms who are working with our in-house lawyers to represent the UAW and our retirees in the bankruptcy proceedings.


  • On Monday, May 4, 2009, the Bankruptcy Court will be asked to allow the approval process to move forward very quickly. If that process is approved, a mailing will be sent to all UAW Chrysler retirees later in the week. That letter will include a notice from the court and a letter from UAW President Ron Gettelfinger and UAW Vice President General Holifield along with Class Counsel from the 2007 court approval process, Bill Payne, describing the agreements and UAW support for the agreement.


  • That letter will describe the proposed retiree medical agreements, which are fully consistent with the agreements ratified last week.


  • A hearing on final court approval will likely be scheduled for later in May. Retirees have the right to submit objections to the proposed agreements if they wish. The process for objections and for obtaining full legal documentation of the proposed agreements will be described in the notice that retirees will receive in the mail.


  • Retirees do not need to take any action now. The UAW supports court approval of these agreements. We are not asking retirees to file objections. If the Bankruptcy Court approves the agreement later this month, retirees will receive more detailed information about the new benefit program in the coming weeks.


  • While this process is developing in the Bankruptcy Court over the next few weeks, there will be no changes to medical benefits or pension benefits.


  • Under the agreements, there will be no change in the pension plan and those benefits will continue.


Ken Lortz elected director of UAW Region 2B


Ken Lortz was elected by acclamation as director of UAW Region 2B by delegates to a special convention held April 30, 2009. Lortz had served as assistant director of the region, which covers the state of Ohio, since 2002 when he was appointed to the position by UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

“Ken brings a lot of experience to the position of director,” said Gettelfinger. “He easily relates to the problems that our membership incurs as well as the problems working people across America face. He’s a strong advocate for workers’ rights and civil rights.”

“I’ve known Ken for at least 20 years and watched him grow as a local union leader, International staff member and as our assistant director,” said outgoing Region 2B Director Lloyd Mahaffey who retired from the position April 30. “I can’t think of anyone better to replace me.”

Following a successful organizing drive at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo in 2000, Lortz was assigned as the lead negotiator for the three newly organized bargaining units in UAW Local 12 that include nurses, technical and service employees. He helped win significantly improved pension, wage and health benefits for nearly 2,800 new UAW members when they won their first contract.

Lortz carried out servicing responsibilities in northwest Ohio as a member of Region 2B staff from 1993 until 2002. His assignments included Independents, Parts and Suppliers; Technical, Office and Professional contracts, and national Chrysler facilities.

Lortz has been a UAW member since 1970 when he joined Local 336 at Atlas Crankshaft in Fostoria, Ohio. He served the members of Local 336 in a variety of positions from 1974 to 1993, including as president and chairman of the bargaining committee.

Active in his community, Lortz is a member of the board of directors for Wake Up Youth, an advocacy group for at-risk girls in Toledo. He is also sits on the board of directors for Camp Courageous, an organization that provides camping experiences and respite weekends for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Lortz was born Oct. 2, 1952 in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. He and his wife, Karen, were married in 1973 and have a son, two daughters, and two grandsons. They live in Carey, Ohio, and are members of Our Lady of Consolation Parish and Basilica.

UAW to present ratified agreements to Bankruptcy Court


DETROIT -- The UAW will join with the U.S. government, Chrysler and Fiat in urging the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to give immediate approval to labor agreements ratified by UAW members, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger said today.

President Obama today announced continued government support for Chrysler as it continues its restructuring process.

“UAW Vice President General Holiefield and I spoke with President Obama this morning, and he asked us to let our active and retired members at Chrysler know how much he appreciates the substantial sacrifices they have made to help save this company,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. “The president’s goal is clear: to assure the long term future of Chrysler.”

The next step in that process will be the filing of a petition for relief under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code.

The first order of business in the bankruptcy proceedings will be to seek court approval of the agreements recently reached between the UAW, the U.S. Treasury, Chrysler and Fiat. Motions seeking that approval will be filed immediately.

“We will urge the court to act swiftly,” said Gettelfinger. The agreements incorporate the modifications to the UAW collective bargaining agreement and retiree health agreement that were ratified by the UAW’s membership in voting that concluded yesterday.

Chrysler, the U.S. Treasury Department and Fiat all remain in full support of these UAW agreements and will join in urging the Bankruptcy Court to give them immediate approval. At the same time, the parties will be urging the Bankruptcy Court to give immediate approval to the terms of the Chrysler/Fiat alliance.

Under the UAW agreements, the pension plan covering UAW-represented employees and retirees will continue in effect without change. The agreements also include the previously announced changes to the retiree medical program, including 55 percent ownership of the restructured company by the retiree benefits trust fund.

“The UAW agreements have been ratified by our membership and approved by the United States Treasury, Chrysler and Fiat,” said Gettelfinger. “We believe it is in the best interests of all concerned for the Bankruptcy Court to give those agreements swift and complete approval. We look forward to presenting those agreements to the court.”

“The UAW membership at Chrysler, both active and retired, has once again demonstrated its strength and steadfastness in the face of great uncertainty,” said UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who directs the union’s Chrysler Department. “While we work to complete the process of court approval, the steps taken today are important milestones in restoring a great American car company to financial health, keeping manufacturing jobs here in the United States, and preserving a secure retirement for tens of thousands of American workers.”