Latest Solidarity Issue

From the president

Trade agreements’ flaws are rooted in moral issues

(Editor’s note: The following excerpts are from a speech delivered by UAW President Ron Gettelfinger to the Detroit Regional Chamber Mackinac Policy Conference in Mackinac Island, Mich., on May 31. For the full speech, please visit

On May 1 Congressman Charles Rangel and Congressman Sander Levin, both Democrats, reached an agreement with the Bush administration to include labor and environmental protections in bilateral trade agreements with Peru and Panama.

For the first time ever, the key principles of international agreements on labor rights and the environment will be included in the main text of trade agreements. The labor standards, adopted from the International Labor Organization, include freedom of association, the right to collective bargaining, a ban on child labor and forced labor, and a ban on all forms of discrimination.

Signatories to these agreements will also be required to enforce environmental laws and regulations, and to uphold international treaties on environmental protection. For the first time, workers and the environment will receive the same priority as copyright, patents and other property rights. …

Regardless of the circumstances that bring it about, when an employer steals the childhood of a 9-year-old laborer in an offshore factory, that is heinous. … When an unscrupulous company steals from us all by dumping harmful chemicals in the drinking water of a developing nation, we ought to be able to stop such behavior.

These aren’t just business issues, labor issues or environmental issues. These are moral issues. …

That’s why organized labor is strongly opposed to a proposed free trade deal with Colombia. Four hundred trade unionists in Colombia have been murdered since President Alvaro Uribe took office in 2002 – 72 in the last year alone – by police and government-backed paramilitaries. … It’s organized labor’s obligation to urge Congress to reject any deal with Colombia until that nation agrees to put an end to these unconscionable murders and other violations of human rights.

In Colombia the key issue is human rights. The proposed U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement has a different flaw, but it’s just as fatal. It fails the basic test that must be applied to any trade agreement: reciprocity.

Last year Korea exported 695,134 vehicles to the United States. About 554,000 of these vehicles were made by Korean companies. The United States was allowed to export 5,732 vehicles to Korea, about 4,000 of which were made by DaimlerChrysler, Ford and General Motors.

The proposed trade deal will reduce or eliminate tariffs on Korean vehicles entering the United States, and encourage the import of Korean cars and pickup trucks into the United States. But the agreement does nothing to increase U.S. exports into Korea.

The jobs of tens of thousands of workers will be at risk if this agreement is implemented as written. … Let’s take steps to make sure South Korea opens its market to American-made goods before we reduce tariffs and open our borders to more imports that will drain U.S. jobs and harm U.S. businesses.

Ron Gettelfinger


Workers' words

Dona Jean Gillespie, UAW Local 602 recording secretary, Lansing, Mich.

The author and her family, clockwise from left: husband Pete
Gillespie (UAW Local 602 benefits rep); Dona Jean Gillespie; her daughter, Elissa
Graham; sons, Christopher Gillespie and Dominic Gillespie (circa 1997).
The author and her family, clockwise from left: husband Pete Gillespie (UAW Local 602 benefits rep); Dona Jean Gillespie; her daughter, Elissa Graham; sons, Christopher Gillespie and Dominic Gillespie (circa 1997).

Joined at the heart


Whenever I hear someone preaching “family values,” the first thing I ask myself is whose family are they talking about?

Are they talking about the Dan Quayle ideal two-parent, 2.3-child family?

If so, does that mean the rest of us aren’t real families – the single parent families, adoptive families, childless families, blended families, foster families, multigenerational families, mixed (be it religion, race or gender) families, etc. Or does it mean we don’t have values?

If we don’t fit the Quaylean family mold, does that mean we don’t love each other? Does it mean we are irresponsible? Less committed to each other? Immoral? Unpatriotic?

What exactly are “family values?”

I’m not sure what other people mean when they talk about “family values,” I only know what my family values: each other.

We value time spent together. We value laughing together. We take joy in each other’s successes, and draw strength from each other by sharing our sorrows.

We help each other when we can, we say we’re sorry when we screw up. We ride out the occasional emotional storm, taking it on faith that the sun will shine again – if not tomorrow, then the day after, or the day after that.

We accept the fact that none of us is perfect and each of us will make mistakes.

We look out for each other.

We respect each other’s independence and rely on our interdependence.

We’re not joined at the hip; we’re joined at the heart.

Phipps' tips

It pays to master chip, pitch shots

Here’s a golf tip you can’t hear enough: Practice your short game more and your long game less.

By perfecting your chip and pitch shots, you’ll lower your score, and improve your golf swing. These two shots are the foundation of the golf swing.

Chip shots are low running shots used to get the ball close to the hole. Generally, 7- or 8-irons are the most preferred clubs, but I use all my clubs depending on how much green I have to work with.

The technique stays the same no matter what club is chosen.

Chip shot tips:

• Stance narrow and open.
• Lean more weight on the target side foot.
• Weight stays on this foot the entire swing.
• Hands slightly in front of ball.
• Ball back in your stance.
• Little to no wrists.
• Stroke similar to putt.

Pitch shots are used to carry over bunkers and to loft the ball softly on the green with little to no run. The clubs needed for this shot are the pitching wedge, sand wedge or lob wedge.

Pitch shot tips:

• Stance is square to slightly open.
• Lean more weight on the target side foot.
• Very little to no transfer of weight.
• Hands slightly in front of the ball.
• Place ball in the center of your stance.
• Use a miniswing (picture numbers on a clock and go take your backswing to 9, then finish at 3) with a little wrist break.

Pam Phipps is director of golf at the Black Lake Golf Club in Onaway, Mich. For additional information, visit

For golf, call 989-733-GOLF. For lodging, call 866-UAW-GOLF.

From the readers

Walter Reuther on Labor Day in Detroit in the mid-’50s. Photo: COURTESY WALTER P. REUTHER LIBRARY, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY, DETROIT
Walter Reuther on Labor Day in Detroit in the mid-’50s. Photo: COURTESY WALTER P. REUTHER LIBRARY, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY, DETROIT

Universal health care

In response to the letter, “UAW can lead the way” (March-April Solidarity), I feel that union leadership needs to explain to the membership why universal health care may never become a reality. Perhaps one should take a walk down K Street in Washington and see how many lobbyists there are who would block this.

The sign, “Health care should be a right, not a privilege,” was displayed at the UAW’s 34th Constitutional Convention.

It’s time all union members band together to demand affordable health care coverage for all. What are we waiting for?

John Spaine
UAW Local 1720 president
Byron, Ill.

True solidarity

My wife and I are a union family and proud of it. But we’ve noticed a general disregard from members concerning their fellow unions.

I recently visited my local Michigan nurses association and found nonunion electricians working inside. I have several neighbors who work for General Motors and think nothing of shopping at Wal-Mart. One of my family's dearest friends is a union schoolteacher who drives an imported vehicle. You get the picture.

I was pleased to see the recent attention you brought to your readers concerning Wal-Mart. I would encourage you to put an article into each issue drawing attention and awareness to your readers to respect fellow unions and not just their own.

We all are in this together and without true solidarity our unions will falter.

Patrick and Mary Sprunger
IBEW Local 665 and
UAW Local 4911
Lansing, Mich.

Defining bankruptcy

When a company goes bankrupt, it is a very bad thing for the hourly employees and retirees, but it can be a good thing for the company and management.

Here’s my definition of bankruptcy: the hourly employees, retirees and suppliers get tossed out of a plane without a parachute while the executives whose decisions caused the bankruptcy float gently down using their golden parachutes.

Ronald Kangas
UAW Local 140 retiree
Harper Woods, Mich.

Inside This Issue...


    Union Front


        July / Aug  2007

        July / Aug 2007

        Vol. 50, No. 7-8

        International Union, UAW
        President: Ron Gettelfinger
        Secretary-treasurer: Elizabeth Bunn
        Vice presidents: General Holiefield, Bob King, Cal Rapson, Jimmy Settles, Terry Thurman

        Regional directors: Joseph Peters, 1; Rory Gamble, 1A; Duane Zuckschwerdt, 1C; Don Oetman, 1D; Lloyd Mahaffey, 2B; Maurice Davison, 3; Dennis Williams, 4; Jim Wells, 5; Gary Casteel, 8; Joe Ashton, 9; Bob Madore, 9A

        Public Relations and Publications Department
        Director: Roger Kerson
        Assistant director: Christine Moroski

        International representatives: Sandra Davis, Emily Everett, John Hammond, Gwynne Marie Cobb, Jennifer John, Vince Piscopo, Joan Silvi, Sam Stark, members of CWA/The Newspaper Guild Local 34022.

        Solidarity magazine editor: Jennifer John

        Clerical staff: Shelly Restivo, Susan Fisher and Pauline Mitchell, members of OPEIU Local 494.

        Member minute

        Krystal Austin

        Krystal Austin.  Photo: SAM STARK
        Krystal Austin. Photo: SAM STARK

        Krystal Austin, 35, doesn’t hold any union office, elected or appointed, at UAW Local 1264, but that doesn’t stop her from being involved. She hasn’t been quite as active since March of 2006, when her daughter Kahya was born. But with a husband whose steel plant recently closed and now serves as a “stay-at-home daddy,” Austin expects to get back into the thick of things soon.

        How long have you been a UAW member?

        I’ve been a member since 1999. I started out at Jefferson Assembly in Detroit, but I have been a spot welder at the Chrysler Sterling Stamping plant in Sterling Heights, Mich., since 2002.

        How do you participate in your local union?

        I get involved wherever my local needs me. I am on a committee of 20 to 30 people who volunteer every year to decorate the local’s float for the Labor Day march in Detroit. We also hold an annual Battle of the Bands event where workers in our plant or their relatives and friends compete whether they play rock, jazz, blues or R&B. We also put on a Blues Festival every fall where we raise money for charity.

        Why do you do these things?

        I didn’t want to just work all night and come home and that’s it. I’m a people person and wanted to meet my fellow union members. I want to get involved so I can help other people get involved.

        RESPECT would help all workers


        Sue Pratt
        Sue Pratt

        Aretha Franklin said it best when she sang, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me.”

        Now the UAW is helping Congress find out what respect means to workers across the country. That is, among other things, passing the Re-empowerment of Skilled and Professional Employees and Construction Tradeworkers (RESPECT) Act.

        RESPECT, or H.R. 1644, would amend the nation’s labor laws to change National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decisions from 2006 that expand the definition of “supervisory employee” beyond Congress’ original intent. A narrow, partisan ruling which contradicts the original intent of the NLRA, these rulings strip potentially millions of workers from protections.

        RESPECT would clearly state congressional intent to allow, rather than restrict, collective bargaining rights for as many workers as possible.

        As Congress considers this important bill, UAW members are also tackling this issue at the bargaining table. At St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo, Ohio, UAW bargainers negotiated to keep charge nurses in their unit.

        “Thanks to the foresight of UAW negotiators, they made proactive proposals about charge nurses,” said Sue Pratt, a registered nurse and chair of their bargaining unit at St. Vincent’s.

        “Because of that, we were on top of the issue, and got it on the

        bargaining table first and were successful.”

        Majority favor EFCA

        The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would change labor laws by requiring employers to recognize a union if a majority of workers sign cards authorizing union representation. It would also crack down on employer violations of the rights of workers seeking unionization or negotiating first contracts.

        EFCA (H.R. 800, S. 1041) passed the House earlier this year. But a vote in the Senate recently failed when President Bush threatened to veto the bill and senators couldn’t muster enough votes to invoke cloture to stop a Republican filibuster against the motion to proceed. The vote was nine votes short to close the debate and bring it to a vote.

        A bright spot: Union supporters have a bipartisan majority in the Senate and House on record in favor of EFCA, with greater support expected in Congress’ next session.

        UAW backs Hill-Terry

        The House passed an energy bill in August, but it didn’t include any provisions on CAFE standards.

        “We absolutely need to put top priority on preserving good-paying manufacturing jobs in the domestic auto industry,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger. “The Hill-Terry bill is the only proposal before Congress that does this.”

        The UAW supports a final energy bill compromise this fall with provisions that look more like the Hill-Terry bill than the Senate version, which contains extreme Corporate Average Fuel Economy provisions. Sponsored by Reps. Baron Hill, D-Ind., and Lee Terry, R-Neb., the bill would raise CAFE standards by as much as 40 percent by 2022.

        More workers vote to join the UAW


        Region 1

        • Workers at Calvert’s Roll-Off Containers in Ann Arbor, Mich., became UAW members by card-check recognition. Calvert's is a construction and demolition recycler, recently purchased by Recycle Ann Arbor, a nonprofit environmental group where drivers and service staff are members of UAW Local l74.

        • Workers at Dana Long Mfg. in St. Clair, Mich., who produce transmission cooler and power steering components for the Big Three, joined the UAW. Also in St. Clair, workers at Blue Water Automotive (Range Road) joined the UAW in a card check. They produce plastic products.

        • Workers at Faurecia Interiors in Warren, Mich., voted to join the UAW. They produce interior seating for the automotive industry. Also in Warren, workers at Plastech Engineered Products Inc. joined the UAW via card check. They assemble front-end auto components for Chrysler.

        • Workers at Mahar Tool Supply in Dundee, Mich., joined the UAW via card check. The company supplies tool management services for Global Engine Manufacturing Alliance, a joint venture between Chrysler, Hyundai Motor Co. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp.

        • Workers at various Michigan locations of Public Credit Union reaffirmed UAW membership with a majority voting against decertification.

        Region 2B

        • Workers at Gibraltar Strip Steel Inc. in Cuyahoga Heights, Ohio, voted for the UAW. The company produces strip steel for the Big Three, Toyota and TRW.

        • In a card check, workers at Kurtz Brothers Inc. in Independence, Ohio, joined the union. They provide maintenance services for Ford Motor Co.
        • Workers at Source Providers Inc. in Austintown, Ohio, who produce hi-lo drivers, joined via card check.

        Region 5

        • In Kirksville, Mo., workers at Yuhshin USA Ltd (Ortech) voted to join the UAW. They produce lock sets and mechanical steering lock assembly for the automotive industry.

        Region 8

        • In Covington, Ga., workers at Standard Refrigeration Co. who produce refrigeration tanks joined the UAW.

        Bargaining opens for Michigan state workers


        UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, left, and Scott Bowen of
Michigan’s Office of the State Employer in the customary handshake to open negotiations.
        UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, left, and Scott Bowen of Michigan’s Office of the State Employer in the customary handshake to open negotiations.

        Services and support — that’s what UAW Local 6000 members are all about.

        They’re social workers, clericals, parole and probation officers and teachers in the prison system.

        Since 1985 the Lansing-based local — with 17,000 members — has represented more than one-third of Michigan’s state employees, including human services and administrative support workers in all areas of the state.

        The UAW bargaining team, led by Local 6000 President Sandra Parker, opened negotiations Aug. 9. Their current three-year agreement expires Dec. 31.

        “UAW Local 6000 members have sacrificed and saved the state of Michigan hundreds of millions of dollars,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger after the opening handshake. “We look forward to negotiating an equitable and fair agreement that recognizes the dedication and hard work of Michigan state employees.”

        “State employees continue to provide valuable and necessary services to the citizens of the state of Michigan despite budget cuts which have caused them to work short staffed.”

        “Our negotiating team is prepared to bargain an agreement which provides job and income security for our members,” said UAW Vice President Jimmy Settles, who directs servicing for the union’s Technical, Office and Professional Department.

        Caesars workers are first to open negotiations


        Photo: LAUREN FARRELLS
        Photo: LAUREN FARRELLS

        When dealers at Caesars Atlantic City casino voted to become part of the UAW on March 17, Sharon Masino knew immediately what she wanted. “I knew that I wanted to sit across the table from management and have them look at me and not down at me,” Masino said.

        With support from her co-workers, Masino will now get her chance.

        A Caesar’s dealer for 23 years, Masino was elected as a member of the UAW bargaining committee. She’s now sitting eye to eye with company negotiators, as she represents more than 800 casino workers bargaining for a first contract.

        Negotiations began Aug. 9 for the full- and part-time dealers, keno and simulcast employees who were the first Atlantic City casino workers to join the UAW.

        “We have heard from other dealers thanking us for being first,” Masino said. “We won’t let them down. We will sit at the table until we get a fair contract.”

        “The momentum that is catching on all over Atlantic City began with these determined dealers at Caesars,” said UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn, who directs the union’s Technical, Office and Professional Department. “They are negotiating for a contract that benefits them as well as other casino workers and the gaming industry in New Jersey.”

        “The enthusiasm and determination are exciting,” said Joe Ashton, who directs UAW Region 9, which includes New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. “Everyone has been buoyed by the enormous support from community leaders, legislators and dealers across Atlantic City, from Detroit and all over.”

        “We are very happy about getting to the table,” said Aneil Patel, a Caesars dealer for 13 years, who added he wants a contract that will end the company’s unfair practice of downgrading full-time jobs to part time with no benefits.

        Working no more than two or three days a week, he said, has meant that some dealers must work multiple jobs to make ends meet and still not have benefits such as health care.

        “It has been a very hard thing for the newer workers. You can’t support yourself or your family like that,” Patel said.

        Before negotiations started, Patel, other Caesars dealers and supporters cheered union negotiators and chanted, “What do we want? A contract! When do we want it? Now!”

        “We will do our very best to set an example for the other casino workers,” said Patel.

        The UAW has represented dealers, cage cashiers and slot technicians at Detroit’s three casinos since 1999.

        In more casino-related news:

        • Earlier this year, a majority of workers at Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino voted for the UAW. At Trump Plaza, a week after dealers voted 324-149 for union representation, the company filed objections to the election. The National Labor Relations Board found no merit to those charges and tossed out the complaint.

        • Dealers at Bally's Atlantic City voted 628-255 in June for the UAW and recently elected a bargaining team in anticipation of negotiating a first contract.

        • At press time, among the growing list of Atlantic City casino workers who want the join the UAW, 50 slot technicians at Caesars casino were expected to hold an election Aug. 23, and about 200 cashiers were expected to vote Sept. 1.

        An election for about 1,000 workers at Tropicana Casino and Resort Atlantic City was set for Aug. 25.