The Constitutional Death of the UAW Part 9 April, 2006

 

By William D. Hanline and friends.

 

“Hi! I’m Bill Hanline and I am here asking you for your support and vote. I would be honored to be your delegate to our upcoming UAW Convention.” I practiced that salutation and after meeting, a hundred people or more the words were fixed to my lips like a tune gets stuck on a person’s mind. On many occasions, the person I was greeting would stop me in the middle. “Hi! I’m Bill Hanline and I am here ask”----“YEA! YEA! I know who you are; I just have one question to ask you. Are you going to retire or flow back to GM?” Even long time political supporters asked me the same question. Finally, one of my friends told me there was a concerted effort by members of my local to keep anyone from going to the convention who could retire or flow back to GM under the newly negotiated Attrition Program.

 

At first, I thought this might have been a conspiracy by my opponents, but then I realized it was something much worse. The members just did not realize that the Con-Con and Bargaining Convention has nothing to do with local union issues. MY co-workers really believed they were protecting their interest by refusing to vote for older members with more seniority. This stigma was very hard to over come. In fact, I never did, for I did not get elected.

 

The political divisive position I was experiencing grew from, and has been installed systematically in the hearts and minds of our members, by the International Union. Whether intentional or not, it has been the insidious manner, which Gettelfinger and Shoemaker have been negotiating wage and  benefits cuts that has nurtured this mistrust. Everywhere I went inside my plants, I heard the same old song and dance by members. - “I don’t trust the Union any more.” - “I have no confidence in the UAW to protect my pension and benefits?”-“What guarantee is there we will have benefits and pensions in the future?”  

 

How could anybody blame them for feeling betrayed and being suspicious? In an April 12 article printed in an overseas newspaper, Ohmy News, written by a pro-labor reporter, “GM Buyouts No “Christmas in March” Ms. Hauben picked up on the feelings of UAW-GM and Delphi employees.

 

She writes: “Among the workers who are affected by the Delphi bankruptcy, there is the suspicion that the bankruptcy is but a ploy to rid itself of a unionized workforce.” 

 

Ms Hauben Continues:  “The fact that there are negotiations going on even though there has not been a membership decision to reopen the union contract, strikes some workers as an ominous sign. If they take early retirement, what is to guarantee them that they will get the retirement benefits they are promised. “No amount of concessions will appease them,” is the view that is voiced about why it is a dead end for workers to go along with the early retirement proposed packages or the contract the UAW is negotiating with Delphi. A strategy of giving concessions, some workers claim, will only lead to more and more demands by the company. “No one should be negotiating in the middle of a contract,” is a feeling that is expressed.”

 

Finally she writes: “The fact that the early retirement offer is being agreed to by the UAW without consulting the membership and having a vote by the UAW membership, is seen as a confirmation of the loss of membership control over what the union officials do. This leaves out any role for the rank and file and their concerns.” Needless to say, Ms. Hauben assumption that the UAW members have lost control over their leaders is absolutely correct. 

 

Most UAW members have little or no understanding how the International Executive Board operates or what authority they have according to the UAW Constitution. IEB control of the members is accomplished by design so by keeping members ignorant of the IEB’s daily activities. Without being in Solidarity House or in contact with UAW activist who question the leadership’s administrative rights through constitutional appeals, it is impossible to know other members are fighting for your rights under the UAW Constitution. Therefore, the latter makes it impossible for members to learn from various appeals just how the membership has lost control over their International Executive Board members. Or have an understanding that the IEB, rather than acting as the initial protector of the individual member’s rights, has morphed into a group of pandering sycophants, serving the wishes of Gettelfinger instead of representing the needs of the member’s of their constituency. The IEB is more like the king and his court than the constitutionally defined process of democratic representation. In other wards after the IEB members are elected by your delegates during the Con-Con they soon stop acting as your representatives and start pandering to Gettelfinger.

 

As recently as March of 2006, a group of retired UAW members filed an IEB appeal, submitted per Article 33 Section 3(d) of the International Constitution. In short, the appeal questioned the IEB authority to negotiate reduced benefits for retirees. Were you aware of that? In the IEB’s answer, the IEB accused the plaintiff’s legal counsel of distorting the facts in the appeal. However, the truth is, the IEB and their legal staff distorted the intent of Article 6, Section 15 to make it appear they have the authority to renegotiate on behalf of all UAW members without considering the members voice in any matter.

 

Here are the concluding remarks written by the IEB.  From IEB Appeal, “Robert R. Foster, et al, vs. the UAW GM Department.”

 

The IEB wrote the following as Part of their concluding remarks.

 

“The UAW has a continuing obligation to oversee and work towards the welfare of its members. A constant dialog is maintained with the employers of our members in order to stay abreast of their condition as a business so that the Union is well informed to make decisions in the Bargaining process. The UAW works hard  to ensure that the employers we work with are Successful, Solvent and solid employers so that we can insure our members a fair days pay for a fair days work in a safe, secured workplace.”

 

The IEB continued: “Article 6, Section 15 does establish that the International Union is the members’ exclusive representative in matters or disputes of any kind, or character arising out of the employer-employee relationship.”

 

Here is the distortion, unlike what the IEB’s (Cooperation Partners’) statement says above, Article 6 is a “Membership” article, not an administrative article. Article 7 is the article that deals with “Powers of Administration.” The intent of Article 6, Sec.15 is to assure that the UAW is the ONLY UNION to represent UAW members, e.g. Champion Paper Mills has as many as four different local unions. The intent of Article 6 is to protect UAW members at various sites that have more than one union from other unions stepping in and negotiating terms of employment etc. Thus, Article 6 Sect. 15 establishes the fact that the UAW represents ONLY UAW members strictly; no other union can negotiate on behalf or represent UAW members.  Art. 6, Sec.15 does Not, to give the International officers authority to unilaterally and arbitrarily negotiate UAW member’s contracts. Previous IEB members never before conflated the two articles, so why are the Cooperation Partners doing it now? 

 

The underlined statement above is also a distortion of the facts by the IEB. Again, the IEB wrote “The UAW works hard to ensure that the employers we WORK with are Successful, Solvent and Solid so that we can assure our members a fair days pay for a fair days work.”  Where in the hell did this come from? Is this stated in the constitution?  Work with employers? Where in any legal definition of a Union does it say unions are to work with employers? No where, that’s where!  

 

The National Labor Relations Act, Section 2(5) defines a labor organization as: “Any organization of any kind, or any agency or employee representation committee or plan, in which employees participate and which exist for the purpose, in whole or in part, of DEALING with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours of employment, or conditions of work.”

The Labor Management Recording and Disclosure Act.(LMRDA), Section 3(i) defines “Labor Organization,” means a labor organization engaged in an industry affecting commerce and includes any organization of any kind, any agency, or employee representation committee, group, association, or plan so engaged in which exist for the purpose, in whole or in part, of DEALING with employers concerning grievances, labor disputes, wages, rates of pay, hours, or other terms or conditions of employment, and any conference, general committee, join or system board, joint council so engaged which is subordinate to a national or international labor organization, other than a State or local central body. See 030.600

 

 

Congress designed the language in those acts to make sure Labor organizations would do nothing more than represent their members by dealing with employers. Congress made sure the language would maintain a separation between the objectives of Unions and those of Corporations (management). 

 

 

Ironically, even the Labor Management Cooperation Act of 1979 (LMCA of 1979) that Management and the UAW designed our Joint programs under, requires the union to refrain from getting involved in managerial decision making or use joint processes to negotiate Collectively Bargained issues as is defined in the other statues

 

 

Fact is Article 2 of the UAW Constitution “Objectives” was written to reflect the definition of a labor organization found in Federal Laws mentioned above. Even Paragraph 8 of the Delphi and GM-UAW National Agreements was designed to make sure Union interest does not overlap and become company business according to federal definitions. 

 

 

As I mentioned earlier, even our contracts have a management’s rights clause to keep the union from interfering or intervening or getting involved in management’s right to manage the business. Paragraph 8.of the GM/Delphi-UAW National Agreements reads: (8) The Right to hire; promote; discharge or discipline for cause; and to maintain discipline and efficiency of employees, is the SOLE RESPONSIBILITY of the CORPORATION except that Union members shall not be discriminated against as such. In addition, the products to be manufactured, the location of the plants, the schedules of production, the methods, processes and means of manufacturing are SOLELY and EXCLUSIVELY the REPONSIBILTY of the CORORATION.

 

 

Nowhere in federal law will you find any language that allows the IEB to work with management as the IEB stated in their very own words above. The reality is union leaders should not be WORKING with management which is contrary to the purpose of a unions objectives as defined by federal law or the UAW Constitution, e.g. such as reducing retirees’ benefits to make the company more solvent is illegal. The GM-UAW lawsuit to reduce retirees’ benefits epitomizes this relationship. Why is the IEB (Cooperation Partners) so damned insistent on violating these statutes? Why do they not care that these violations might lead to the de-certification of the union? Why is the UAW International Union leadership willing to take that risk?  I will try to answer those questions as I move along.

 

 

 

The Cooperation Partners have not followed constitutional procedures pursuant Article 19 and 20 of the UAW Constitution. Shoemaker and Gettelfinger have arbitrarily taken the place of our TOP Collective Bargaining Committee. They have bargained away retirees’ benefits and they negotiated the terms of the Early Attrition Agreement with GM, as it is referred to in Court documents. Moreover, as far as Delphi UAW members are concerned the Cooperation Partners are negotiating with Delphi without reopening our agreement. The IEB’s reason is, they wrote “they are not negotiating new agreements.” Bull shit! Didn’t Miller file a motion to have the judge void the Delphi-UAW National Agreement? Wouldn’t that constitute a reopening of the Delphi-UAW National Contract?  If the Cooperation Partners are negotiating with Delphi, then who is doing the negotiating and what are they negotiating? Didn’t they call the newly negotiated Early Attrition Plan an Agreement in court documents?  Then why are they saying this is not new? Did they not create an entirely new arrangement or agreement with GM for Retirees’ healthcare?  Again, how can they say this was not reopening our agreement?  They did it to show members they have the power to do as they damn well please and the members are helpless to stop them

 

 

In order to remain in their members’ confidence, all they had to do is follow UAW Constitutional procedures pursuant to Article 19 and 20. First, by conducting a strike vote, then by going to the members for their ideas and thoughts through resolutions, especially now that the Bargaining Convention is less than a month away.  Second, by adopting the resolutions at the convention? Then the IEB would know what the members want before entering negotiations. By refusing to follow constitutional procedures, it makes the IEB appear they have some ulterior motive, or are they only willing to listen to management’s demands. No wonder members have such a deep feeling of suspicion and mistrust toward their international officers.

 

 

 

Recently a UAW Sister wrote to “Soldiers of Solidarity”. She wrote that she did not believe the International Union is corrupt. She wrote I think they really believe what they are doing is right for everybody. However, she made it clear that she does not agree with everything the Cooperation Partners are doing. 

 

 

I said above I would answer two questions, the questions are “Why do they not care that these violations might lead to the de-certification of the union? Why is the UAW International Union leadership willing to take that risk?”  Well I, unlike the Sister above, believe the IEB has been compromised, that they are corrupt and working in collusion with the automakers. My research taught me to stay focused on one thing that I believe truly motivates the UAW International. I have to keep reminding myself, and I remind you now, “IT’S THE MONEY, STUPID!” 

 

 

Recently David Shepardson of the Detroit News wrote an article titled “UAW loses 11% of its members” April 13, 2006. The article reports how the UAW lost 65,807 members in 2005. Mr. Shepardson seems to think that this loss of members is being driven by the new incentives for members to retire and the Delphi bankruptcy. Hell, none of the latter has even happened yet, nor did any mention of it take place until October of 2005. So, how can that be the driving force? 

 

 

Mr. Shepardson mentioned that the UAW made a $51 million dollar profit last year, or a million dollars a week! How could that be, considering the loss of revenue the union incurred from the loss of dues paying members? And, do not forget the figures reported by the UAW also include all the new members organized during 2005, so the number of members lost could be even greater! 

 

 

How can Gettelfinger and Shoemaker justify the most recent rounds of negotiations that produced the Early Attrition Agreement that will reduce the UAW dues paying membership another 50,000? How can the Automakers and Delphi mitigate the union’s loss of dues paying members because of the companies restructuring plans? Simple, IT’S THE NEW DC-VEBAS.

 

 

My ten years of research of the money trail has convinced me as well as officials in Washington that the UAW now receives around one-third of its income from membership dues, one third from interest income from the UAW’s Pension Plan and Strike Fund, and the final third comes from joint funds reimbursements, charge backs and service charges. The latter comes indirectly from the automakers through the joint funds programs. Problem with the joint funds revenue is it could dry up real soon. Even in Miller contract demands he wants to put an end to Delphi’s share of joint funds. 

 

 

Do not forget the restructuring of GM and the other automakers for as their employment levels dwindles, so does the need for the joint programs, which in turn naturally reduces the need for revenue for joint funds. In other words why continue spending 200 millions dollars a year through the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources when there is no longer a need, because of the reductions in GMs workforce? Even Wagoner could not mitigate to his shareholders the continued need to spend 200 million dollars a year in joint funds after GM accomplishes its restructuring. Then what will the UAW do go back to organizing?

 

 

 

As an accounting student in college, Gettelfinger understands the need to increase the union’s flat line income, and the theory of rate of return on investments. He understands that the union cannot afford to lose millions of dollars of revenue from the loss of members and still maintain the union’s high style of doing business which they have grown accustomed to without replacing the loss of revenue. He is also aware that the union has been losing money on their organizing efforts, for the number of new members (as I explained earlier), is not sufficient to replace the numbers of those leaving by attrition etc. The rate of return on organizing investments has been pitiful over the years. 

 

 

This is where I believe the newly negotiated healthcare VEBAs come into play. These DC-VEBAs, the ones between GM and FORD, will have billions of dollars in them. Furthermore, the UAW will play a very important part in the administration of the VEBAs. There will be a segregated fund formed that will be administered by the seven person committee for purposes not explained in court documents. This segregated fund, with no monetary  limits, could be used to make reimbursements and charge backs to the UAW for a completely new group of UAW staff appointees. Is this how GM and Ford mitigated their restructuring programs to Gettelfinger and Shoemaker? Is this how the automakers got the Cooperation Partners agreement to let the company eliminate another 50,000 dues paying UAW members by the year 2008, just so the automakers and Delphi can be more competitive in the Global Market Place. Are you getting the picture now? This is nothing more than unmitigated treason on Gettelfinger’s behalf. Yes, treason, for he might as well take 50,000 UAW members behind Solidarity House and shoot them in their backs on behalf of our enemies (the companies) who are using bankruptcy courts to destroy good paying (UAW American) jobs and Pension Plans to make sure the enemies remain successful and solvent! If an American soldier committed that same kind of crime against his comrades at arms during the World Wars, even by today’s standards, he would have been shot for treason.

 

 

For the past two decades, Joint funds mitigated the loss of union dues from past reductions of UAW members in all three automakers. Ironically, the latter reductions was accomplished through joint programs and funds designed for that purpose. Now the UAW will have the healthcare VEBAs to use as a feeding trough, to maintain their plush jobs and exorbitant retirement incomes, and no co-pay healthcare.

 

 

Mr. Shepardson quotes a corporate mouthpiece in his article. A Mr. Sean McAlinden, an economist for the Center for Automotive Research. McAlinden predicts the same thing happening: “The UAW is going to end up as a “MUCH smaller but RICH union that has some control over final (Vehicle) assembly,” he said. Now you have an idea how Gettelfinger and the Cooperation Partners expect to keep the main body of the union alive and economically well. It certainly is not through the organizing of new members.

 

 

In another interesting article titled DELPHI “The Real Deadline for a deal is June 15” in the April 10, 2006 edition of “Automotive News,” Mr. David Sedgwick quotes Mr. McAlinden again. “McAlinden says GM and Delphi had better hope they get at least that much from Shoemaker before he steps down.” “They’ve got to get this done while Shoe is still there,” says McAlinden. This means that Delphi-UAW members as well as corporate executive should not have to wait until the UAW trains another person ON the JOB to take the place of Shoemaker.

 

A new V.P. could postpone contract negotiations because it will take time for him to get in pace with what has already transpired. It could also mean the new V.P. could make things more difficult for Delphi and GM to reach an agreement, which they do not want. Remember, it was Shoemaker who negotiated the two-tier wage agreement in 2003 that established the benchmark for future wages in Delphi without following constitutional procedures.

 

 

 

There is an irony here few members would notice. If Shoemaker and Gettelfinger had  followed Constitutional Procedures then the Top Collective Bargaining Committee would have been negotiating with GM and Delphi instead. By having the committee in bargaining then it would NOT MATTER WHO THE NEW V.P. MIGHT TURN OUT TO BE! 

 

 

That Brother and Sisters is an excellent good example why we have a constitution in the first place. The UAW Constitution was written to protect members from over zealous and arrogant people from making things worse for members. Yes worse!  In bargaining there is always 2 different sets of needs, the needs of the union and the needs of the company. The Cooperation Partners negotiated a financial end for many members through the attrition plan, however, what about those left behind. By offering the attrition plan at this time the company will not have to face the total workforce in the future when the judge voids the Delphi agreement. This will weaken the union’s ability to fight and retain member’s wages benefits etc. through a strike. And trust me the Cooperation Partners will use that for an excuse. Therefore, Shoemaker Gettelfinger has made things worse for those who are stuck staying behind in Delphi.

 

 

Ms. Hauben’s ostensible analysis confirms the UAW membership has clearly lost control of their leadership. When the majority of the flat line income comes from membership dues, then the membership controls the purse strings and the membership has control. However, when only one third of a union’s flat line income comes from membership dues and all the rest from stocks and bonds from investments, and even more from the automakers via the joint funds, this turns the UAW into a capital driven company, not a membership driven union. 

 

 

As far as my election goes well I lost. Though I will not get to go to the Conventions as a delegate, I hope members in other locations will vote for candidates who recognize the need to take back our union and give control back to the members. The best way to do that would be to support delegates who endorse ONE MAN ONE VOTE for our International Officers

 

 

ALSO!  Send Miller and Wagoner and the Cooperation Partners a message at the conventions! 

 

AS WE GO DOWN, SO WILL DELPHI AND GM!

 

 

 

In Solidarity                    

 

Skiphanline@aol.com                                                                                      Members rule when they work to rule!

 

 

 

                                                                  Bill Hanline

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