- Gregg Shotwell
Live Bait & Ammo #184: Shout Them Down and Throw Them Out
Active and retired Flower Funders are flouncing around like weekend revolutionaries in
flip-flops eager as cheerleaders to heap accolades on the latest International UAW
President appointed by the crooked Ad. Caucus.
Rory Gamble was installed as President by convicted felon, Gary Jones, on his slide out
the door and rubber stamped unanimously by the Executive Board of Dittoes. Protection
is a racket.
What is Gamble’s redeeming social value in this obscene debacle? Who knows? Maybe
he’s the only one who escaped the fire at Solidarity House with a clean pair of shoes.
International UAW officials are rolling over like bowling pins. Indictments breed singers
and the chorus of snitches has investigators scurrying. Every rat on the sinking ship
wants to plea bargain or feign sanctimonious ignorance.
Federal agents aren’t impressed with Gamble’s reform plan but Flower Funders are
promoting the status quo like it was whipped cream. Now I don’t think voting has the
virtue of snake oil but how could direct election of all UAW officials make matters worse
than an entire echelon of piecards in handcuffs?
Everyone in the International was appointed by a shifty-eyed double-dealer whose sole
intent was covering tracks. Does anyone believe these porkchoppers ever appointed an
ethical staffer? Let alone a solidarity soldier. Well, Jerry Tucker comes to mind, but they
fired him and robbed him of pension and health care.
I read a cookie cutter essay by a Flower Funder denouncing the notion that democracy
was a solution to systemic corruption running rampant in the Administration Caucus that
has dominated the UAW for seventy years.
The signatory of this boilerplate actually claimed that One Member, One Vote for
International reps would lead to “ . . . electing new and often inexperienced leaders who
would inevitably make substantial and ill-advised staffing changes to the detriment of
our organization, making us weaker and more susceptible to the corruption and
influence it was designed to protect us from.”
Holy shit. I can smell the stink of his ink as I type the quote.
An admonition to maintain the status quo on a sinking ship is demonic. These dog-eat-
doggers think a tail in the mouth is a brass ring because they have no taste and their
own tails are numb from all the shagging. Where does it end?
The UAW Bargaining Chairman at GM in Fort Wayne takes orders from dealerships.
Yeah, they give him vin numbers and he hunts them down as fast as he can. GM pays
Bargaining Chairs sixteen hours a day seven days a week, whether they are in the plant
or not, just to keep them “fat, dumb, and happy.” No wonder he’s hustling for dealer
perks rather than pushing solidarity unionism. He makes more money than Gamble if
you don’t look under the table.
The feds are investigating the IUAW but not the Big 3 Auto-Corps because law
enforcement is an arm of Capital not justice.
The Big 3 Auto-Corps created the nefarious Training Centers and the congruent funding
that channels company dollars into the pockets of the felonious Ad. Caucus. But the
feds aren’t examining obvious over the table bribes because it’s a contractual scheme.
It’s not ethical but it’s legal like qualified immunity.
Capitalism isn’t above the law, it is the law. Labor is bought and sold and trashed right
before our eyes. Crooked Ad. Caucus lackeys are brokers. They get rewarded for
selling us out. We get wage cuts, they get kickbacks.
Sponsorship of the Training Centers, which is tax free and State supported, began as
the “nickel fund” and grew into pay as you go—carte blanche for lavish bribes to the Ad.
Caucus in exchange for a slash and burn attack on autoworkers.
With lavish corpo-funding the Administration Caucus turned into the Concession Caucus
and slashed jobs, cut wages, decimated solidarity, purged pensions, whipsawed
workers, and burned trust in the union. Oh yeah; and turned organizing into a
sweetheart deal with the corps by promising non-union wages.
The planned corruption of the UAW by the Corps isn’t new. “The ‘Warren Strategy’
spelled out the main bargaining objectives for the 1984 negotiations.”
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is for every UAW member to read “A Tale of
Corruption" by the United Auto Workers and the Big Three American Automakers” by
Thomas Adams. Click the link. It’s important information for autoworkers.
It explains shit like this: “For example, UAW president, Bob King and secretary-
treasurer, Dennis Williams were the two-person board of directors for the “International
UAW Region 9 New York Training Initiative,” a nonprofit tasked with training Perry’s Ice
Cream workers . . .” That’s right, ice cream. But that’s just the icing.
Here’s the real steal. “The theft of $4.5 million from the NTC almost seems charming
when compared to the potential for corruption presented by the $61 billion UAW Retiree
Medical Benefits Trust. Between 2009 and 2017 functional expenses in excess of $200
million annually for the trust have been reported to the IRS under the category of
“other.” The Medical Trust headquarters occupy the entire top floor UAW-GM Center for
Human Resources building in Detroit. General Holiefield, Norwood Jewell, and other
UAW officials implicated in the training funds scandal are current or former directors of
the training centers and the medical trust administrative committee.”
Ad. Caucus boilerplate that asserts direct elections would cause worse results is not
only stupid, it implies the rank & file is more diabolical than the present raft of criminals.
And investigators haven’t hit the bottom of the snake pit.
Rory Gamble wants to convince the feds that a government takeover of the union isn’t
necessary. I hope he is convincing because we know the government is anti-union and
we can’t trust a takeover by the State to ensure power to the workers. Gamble has
erected an Ethics Committee but who appoints the committee? It’s a rhetorical question
corralled with circular logic.
The feds are concentrating on the money trail but UAW members have another issue:
representation. In March Travis Watkins, a Bargaining Chairman in a unit of UAW Local
167 was fired by a GM contractor for informing members that two fellow workers were
escorted from the plant for Covid-19 symptoms.
Yep, that’s all it takes to get fired and not represented by the UAW.
President Gamble has a clear opportunity to intercede on behalf of Watkins and
consequently the membership, but he ignores the situation. Gamble gets a big fat pitch
right down the middle of the plate and he keeps his bat on his shoulder.
Silence is a message of complicity, loud and clear. Gamble’s partnership with the
company is more important to him than his duty to the membership.
The debate over One Member, One Vote for all International officials has circulated
throughout the UAW for decades. Adamant Ad. Caucus resistance is a red flag. Why
does Gamble & Co. resist democracy?
Personally, I don’t believe voting is the end all and be all because it reinforces the notion
that the rank & file can’t govern themselves and that leaders can be held accountable
by elections. Accountability based on elections has proved questionable.
Let’s take a lesson from the young folk on the streets of America today. Do you think
they give a shit about Biden time? Do you imagine they believe voting changes
anything? Did Obama make Black Lives Matter successful? Elections don’t drive
change, they reinforce learned patterns of helplessness.
I don’t believe the UAW will be reformed in a Special Convention or a Constitutional
Convention because the Ad. Caucus exercises total control of proceedings. I was a
delegate at the UAW Constitutional Convention in 2002 when Regional Director Warren
Davis defied Ad. Caucus control. The Ad. Caucus came back the next day and wiped
out the whole UAW Region 2 rather than accept Davis’s legitimate election. (See
Rank & file members would fare better if they took over their own Locals and organized
horizontally, Local to Local, across the map. Confront lies. Halt whipsawing. Damn
favoritism. Ditch jointness. Dump appointees. Workers rule when they work to rule.
Let me tell you a story. Late one night in 2010 I got a call from an autoworker in
Indianapolis. I didn’t know him but he got my number from Theresa Barber, a dedicated
soldier of solidarity. So I called Theresa and confirmed the connection.
UAW Local 23, a GM stamping plant, was in the midst of a solidarity struggle. The Ad.
Caucus wanted to turn the Local into scabs. That’s right. They wanted the Local to
reopen and ratify a new contract that would cut wages, benefits, and working conditions.
It was a sweetheart deal for a new owner and a plan to whipsaw other stamping plants.
I wrote two anonymous fliers that night. I don’t know how he did it but he was able to
download my emails, print them out, and distribute them the same night.
I couldn’t tell this story at the time because it was all on the downlow and I won’t
mention the names of any active workers now. But ten years later, here’s the gist.
The next day I connected with a couple other rank & file workers and I wrote fliers for
them to sign. They fed me the information, I spun my craft, and they signed and
distributed the fliers. I connected with the Bargaining Chairman Greg Clark as well but
kept everything on the downlow. Over the next couple weeks we flooded the plant with
The Ad. Caucus wanted members to ratify this scab contract under the threat of closure
and the rank & file said, Screw it. We’re not going to be scabs and get whipsawed
against our brothers and sisters in other Locals. Greg Clark told Indianapolis Star
reporter, Ted Evanoff, “There’s no sense in us setting a precedent and taking a wage
cut. We're not in this just for ourselves. The decision we make here affects not only
Indianapolis. If we give in, the company will go after the people in the plants in Marion,
Flint, and Parma for the same thing.”
The UAW Constitution, Article 19 forbids negotiation “without first obtaining the approval
of the Local Union.” Local 23 voted 382-22 against reopening their contract. But the Ad.
Caucus ran roughshod over the will of the members, shitcanned the UAW Constitution,
and fabricated a yellowdog contract. This is the crux of Ad. Caucus corruption: they
represent the bossing class not the working class.
The Ad. Caucus sent a porkchopper, Mike Grimes (since convicted of bribery), to
impress them with his power of persuasion. The night before Grimes’s podium pounding
pontification, I wrote my favorite flier of all time, which concluded, “Shout Them Down
and Throw Them Out.” I’ll be damned if they didn’t do just that. (See the video made by
Theresa Barber.) “Get out! This is our house!” they shouted. Grimes left with his tail
between his legs.
Despite overwhelming Local Union resistance the Ad. Caucus demanded a mail-in
ratification vote on the yellowdog contract they concocted without consent of UAW
members. In order to secure the results Local 23 members took the ballots to the union
hall, and recorded 412 no votes in front of a video camera.
I went to Indianapolis to meet with members of UAW Local 23: good solid union people,
gold standard. Some of the members I talked to lacked sufficient seniority to guarantee
the opportunity to transfer to another GM plant. Nonetheless, they voted against the
scab contract. They’d rather lose their jobs than be scabs.
I remember at a rally in Indianapolis Greg Clark said, “Now I know what soldiers of
solidarity means.” And then he taught me something I’ll never forget.
A lot of members were angry at the UAW Local 23 President. They felt he had invited
the International Con Caucus into their Local affairs and thereby betrayed them. When I
asked Greg how he felt, he said, “No hard feelings. He has some personal problems.
They manipulated him.” Mercy. Magnanimity. Integrity. That’s when I knew Greg Clark
belonged to the oldest religion—Solidarity. For Clark principle comes before personal
conflict or personal reward. Resentment and petty vengeance are beneath his dignity.
When the stamping plant in Indianapolis closed Greg Clark expected to transfer to
another plant. He wasn’t ready to retire, but the Ad. Caucus in collusion with GM
obstructed his opportunity. Greg was walked out of the plant by Security.
GM said they needed a grievance, which at that point was in the hands of the
International, to process either his transfer, or his pension and settlement pay. Greg
Clark went three years without any income or health insurance. Mo Davison was the
Regional Director and Bob King was President of the IUAW at that time.
In The Inferno, Dante’s poem of a journey through hell, traitors were relegated to the
Ninth Circle — “lowest, darkest, and farthest from Heaven.” Davison and King have a
reservation waiting for them in the Ninth Circle.
Here’s the point of my story: Clark could have sold out the members of UAW Local 23.
He could have betrayed solidarity and secured a cush job. Greg Clark chose principle.
He chose justice, solidarity, honesty. As he said, “We're not in this just for ourselves.”
Bob King and the backstabbing Ad. Caucus exacted vengeance.
What if we had a solidarity soldier like Greg Clark at the helm of the International UAW
today? Would he clean house? Would he represent Travis Watkins rather than GM?
Would he speak with courage and conviction? Would rank & file members trust him?
Maybe I am wrong about elections. I sure would like the opportunity for UAW members
to elect a man of principle and integrity like Greg Clark.
Be safe. Stay solid, Gregg Shotwell, 6-12-20