The Constitutional Death Of The UAW “Part Seven”
by William Hanline
In September of 2005 “Uncommon Sense,” Issue 24, published an article written by Brother Gregg Shotwell. He wrote how the UAW members and the public were being conned, “duped” by the automakers and union. Shot describes this deception in the following words.
“Every con begins with a story. Once the illusion is accepted, the “PLAY” bought, and the “confidence” won. All concessions are predictable.” Later in his piece he wrote: “In a high stakes version of Three Card Monte (a short con which requires an INSIDEMAN, an OUTSIDEMAN and a SHILL) Delphi, GM, and the UAW want us to believe that concessions are inevitable, that circumstances are beyond their control, and no one is accountable because “The Future Isn’t What It Used To Be.”
Brother Gregg was absolutely correct in his assumption that Steven Miller of Delphi (aka the Shill), Rick Wagoner (aka the “Inside-man”) and Ron Gettelfinger (aka the “Outside-man”) was about to pull one of the most grandiose double-dealing schemes ever perpetrated on the workers in GM and Delphi and the retirees of GM in America’s industrial history.
Our working experience taught many of us autoworkers to expect the “CON” to come from management because they deal all the cards, ante up the money, and they call the shots. Therefore, we expect men like Miller and Wagoner to play major rolls in of the spoliation of our wages and retirees’ healthcare benefits. However, should we not as dues paying members expect our union to act differently? Then, why is Gettelfinger participating in theses shenanigans? Why does he insist on playing the roll of the “outside-man,” much like a carnival sideshow barker who lures unsuspecting people to the shill for the kill? Ironically even after making a public proclamation in a Chicago Tribune article, July 23, 2005, when he said “we’re (the UAW) the check and balance” to offset management power. “You do not have to buy a pig in a poke,” yet, he continues to bark the shill’s tune!
The gambit is the same as any shell game on a street corner, the only thing different is he doing it at a much larger scale. Gettelfinger is doing it by barking images of good will, Brother and Sister-hood and Solidarity in the media and at public events. Funny thing is he has conned the media also! Just listen to some of the descriptions used by reporters during the past couple of months, “UAW Marshals Financial legal help for GM Battle,” “The UAW is locked in a stare down with General Motors Corporation” and “As the contest of will intensifies.” What contest? Hell, it is a known fact that the UAW joined hands with GM in the lawsuit to screw the retirees. So why then does Gettelfinger insist on helping the shill (Miller) and the Inside-man (Wagoner) convince their audience that concessions are the only means for Delphi and GM to remain economically viable in the long term? Why do they keep singing the corporate story of possible bankruptcy?
I know you are probably asking yourselves, surly Gettelfinger and my union wouldn’t do such a thing? If you were to read the transcripts of the December 22, 2005 hearing for Class Certification you would discover, it was the lawyers for the UAW who kept mentioning the idea that GM might go bankrupt, not the GM attorneys. Furthermore, it has been Gettelfinger and his GM hired consultants who keep emphasizing the possibility of GM going bankrupt in interview after interview with the media, NOT GM’s Chairman, Rick Wagoner!
In July 2005, the UAW “supposedly” hired various types of firms including Lazard Ltd and Milliman Inc. to analyze GM’s books on healthcare. I emphasize the word “supposedly” for the following reasons. Since the UAW/GM case began, there has been evidence presented to the court proving that GM is paying for all of the UAW’s legal cost concerning that case. This means the judge knew when he approved the class and set the date for a fairness hearing for retirees he was helping GM to compromise the UAW’s abilities to represent their members incontrovertibly in court. Yes, GM is paying for the UAW’s portion of legal expenses for a lawsuit that apparently arises from a conflict of interest between both parties. Does this make sense?
The accounting firm of Lazard and the consulting firm of Milliman were the hired advisors to the UAW to look over GM books. Who paid them? Was it General Motors Corporation, most likely!
He, Who Pays the Piper, Calls the Tune!
A look at the transcript of the December 22, 2005 hearing for class certification you will find one small example of how the payer calls the tune. On page 14 case number 05-73991 – UNITED AUTO WORKERS, remarks by Mr. William Payne, ESQ. appearing on behalf of the UAW and retirees is quoted in court records on Lines 7 -14 in an answer to the judge’s question, “Does it (a first dollar coverage) exist anywhere else in the United States that you know of?” Mr. Payne who was supposedly representing the interest of the retirees but whose pay came from GM said, “Maybe there are executive plans that provide it some place. I mean, nobody other than us would like to see this, this Cadillac Program, if you will. I think it’s appropriate to call it: Continue with no $10 and no $150. But we do think that;, given the financial situation here and the four billion dollars in losses in the North American Operations for this year, that it’s not too much to ask.” Payne continued on lines 15 -18 “there was a framework for this settlement already in place the day the complaint was filed. We, as class counsel came in, though. And we weren’t part of that particular framework” Then on page 21, lines 12 -14, Mr. Payne’s said, “GM claims, and I think quite credibly, (he was talking about GMs legacy cost) that this was its motivation for announcing that it was going to do these unilateral cuts last June.” Additionally on page 22, lines 11 – 16 Mr. Payne said. “They(the UAW) had a team of investment bankers, actuaries; Lazard was one firm, Cleary/Gottlied was another firm, a law firm out of New York that really analyzed the whole situation, developed alternatives and solutions and really worked very well in putting together the program that was ultimately put together.”
Ironically, on page 22, lines 22 and 24 Mr. Payne contradicts his testimony above by saying “And as I said, we did our own investigation and legal inquiry, too, and have been involved in the drafting.”
Now let us compare Mr. Payne’s testimony to the testimony given by the attorney representing GM’s interest. Mr. Eugene Driker, ESQ. said on page 33, lines 6 – 9, “The simile was made a few moments ago about this being a Cadillac Plan. Well, it is a fully loaded Cadillac, and perhaps now it’s a Cadillac without heated seats. What difference is there between these 2 individuals? It certainly isn’t the source of their incomes maybe that is why their thinking was so similar and Mr. Payne sounded as though the was representing GM.
After reading the transcript, a co-worker and distinguished friend of mine gave me his synopsis, which I think best described the scam that took place during that hearing. He said “It sounds has though the UAW hired a prosecutor to represent the retirees in court.” If you committed murder, would you hire a prosecutor to represent you? We both agreed that the lawyers sounded that way because GM paid the piper, so therefore, GM called the tune.
Just one week after allowing Delphi to disburse $21 million in bonuses to reward the very same managers who virtually bankrupted Delphi, Judge Robert Drain of the New York, Bankruptcy Court said he would allow Delphi to pay for special union advisors to the UAW to advise the union during contract talks with Delphi. Guess who the advisors are, yes, they are Lazard and Milliman. Reported in Newsday.com, on February 9, 2006, which read. “The UAW, which represents 70 percent of Delphi’s U.S. Hourly workforce, will be GIVEN MONEY to hire investment bank Lazard Freres & Co. at a rate of $175,000 a month and Milliman Inc. at $100,000 a month. The very same firms that GM hired and the union used to convince members and the public that GM would go bankrupt if they did not negotiate healthcare cuts for retirees.
A spokesman for the UAW, Paul Krell has been quoted in the Chicago tribune as saying, “The UAW has hired advisers “on a number of occasions and for a broad range of circumstances.” If that is true and the automakers have been paying for them, no wonder UAW members have been experiencing a freefall of wage and benefits concessions and the union a loss of dues paying members over the past decade. Now after learning that Delphi will be paying the consultants and accountants for the UAW who in the world do you think will be calling the tune during the Delphi-UAW negotiations?
Nevertheless, the real question among UAW members should be, why, in the hell are the “Cooperation Partners” taking money from Delphi? What ever happened to our Top Negotiating Team that was elected to negotiate on behalf of UAW members? What ever happened to the Councils of Presidents and Chairpersons who were elected by you to represent you at times like these? What ever happened to the Executive Board of the international union who are supposed to approve all contract language before it goes to the members for a vote? Moreover, since the legal department of the international union has become the fastest growing department in the union, why does Gettelfinger need the companies to pay for the UAW’s legal assistance? Why don’t we just go to the Convention in June and make a motion to replace him with Lazard and Milliman? Gettelfinger just needs to live up to his oath to uphold the UAW Constitution that contains the guidelines for negotiating process. If he would, he would not need these anti-worker firms and the bribe money from Delphi and GM to help him so he can unilaterally negotiate our “2007” contract. Yes, that is exactly what he is doing; he is negotiating our 2007 contract before the June Convention even arrives. Mark my word!
The Labor Management Relations Act is very clear when it comes to unions excepting money from companies. Section 302(c) (1) through (9) defines exactly what circumstances, and conditions a union can receive money from companies and the law is quite clear. The first four subsections makes exceptions for payments to satisfy judgments “checkoffs” for payment of union dues, payment made to labor management committees, and payments regarding the sale and purchase of goods at market price. The second four exceptions deal with the establishment and administration of employer supported employee trust funds, E.G. welfare benefits plans to cover vacations, healthcare and retirements. Another example is the $18.4 million dollars paid by GM for the “Corporation-Union Committee on Health Care Benefits “CUCHCB” mentioned in the Constitutional Death of the UAW number 6. Exception number 9 makes allow companies to make payments to Labor Education Training Committees “LETCs” set up by the UAW and the auto companies all over this country that are supposedly controlled by various state, Governors and Private Industrial Councils or “PICs.” Nowhere can I find anything that allows a corporation to give money to a union or to union leaders to pay for services from consulting firms or for legal services especially during contract negotiations, which are supposed to be conducted at arms length. I believe Judge Drain is living in another country or world or something. It’s apparent he knows little about labor laws or could it be he’s become so arrogant he lives in a delusion that he is above the law thus having supreme authority to allow the UAW and Delphi and GM to break federal laws with his judicial blessing. Then again, why hasn’t the Federal Government stepped in and stop this foolishness?
Fiduciary responsibility is not just for executive officers of corporations. “Title V—Safeguards for Labor Organizations, (29 U.S.C. 501) Section 501(a)” makes it explicitly clear that that officers are to “refrain from dealing with such organization as an advance party or in behalf of an adverse party in any matter connected with his duties.” Furthermore Section 501(b) a trial judge may allot a reasonable part of the recovery in any action under this subsection to pay the fees of counsel prosecuting the suit at the instance of the member of the labor organization and to compensate such member for any expenses necessarily paid or incurred by him in connection with the litigation.
Now let us go back to the GM case when the GM bought and paid for judge in Detroit allowed GM to pay for all of the UAW legal expenses. Why did he not see to it that GM paid for Mr. McKnight’s legal counsel as well? A judge should be the first to understand that a single retired member could not afford to take on GM and the UAW. Wouldn’t it make more sense to have GM pay for McKnight’s legal fees instead of the UAW’s? The judge apparently knows nothing about “Three Card Monte” for if he did he would have understood the need to have GM pay for Mr. McKnight’s lawyer. By doing so McKnight’s attorney would have been placed in the same predicament that Lazard Ltd. found their firm in. That is, singing the tune the “Insideman,” Wagoner is paying for!
They (GM and Delphi) do not want to lose their best Team Player
Apparently, the press has not forgotten that the Constitutional Convention is just a few short months away, nor have Miller and Wagoner! In a January 17, 2006 Detroit Free Press article “Delphi to delay bid to avoid contracts” Tom Walsh and Jason Roberson wrote. “All three parties say they realize that a final resolution may get more difficult as the UAW elections in June draw nearer. Political pressure likely will intensify as the UAW convention approaches, which could inflame rank-and-file passions about any changes in Delphi labor agreements.” Why don’t Mr. Walsh just come out and say it that Wagoner and Miller are afraid that Gettelfinger may not get re-elected if they continue to for him to negotiates a concessionary agreement with Delphi before the convention? That is very important to Delphi and GM for they do not want to loose their best “outside-man.” Since when does the politics of the UAW come to be talked about in the press as a major factor of negotiations that will eventually effect 24,000 UAW members lives and their work as employees of Delphi. Is Ron Gettelfinger negotiating for his own political well-being, worrying that his re-election will be determined base solely on his ability to negotiate a concessionary agreement with Delphi for his members? What is more important to you? Ron’s re-election or your and your family’s well-being? Better yet, is his re-election more important to you than you having a job! Let us choose delegates that will vote to stop Gettelfinger’s strangulation of our beloved UAW. Ron Gettelfinger’s betrayal of his oath to up hold the UAW Constitutional is enough grounds to have him removed from office. Hey Ron! Why don’t you spare the membership the embarrassment, and yourself the trouble, and just resign?
One last thing, let us send delegates who will support and vote for the referendum vote for our international president and vice presidents. “One Man!” “One Vote!”
NO CONCESSIONS, WORK TO RULE