Latest Solidarity Issue

Dana deal protects wages, health care

UAW, USW WORKERS IN 6 STATES OK CONTRACT


Members of the UAW and the United Steelworkers (USW) have overwhelmingly ratified an agreement with Dana Corp. for workers in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, Kentucky and Indiana.

Members approved the four-year agreement by 86 percent on July 24.

The deal, approved July 27 by a U.S. bankruptcy court, protects wages and health care for active workers and pensions and health care for retired workers. Also, it helps Dana emerge from bankruptcy with the potential for future success while preserving jobs and defending the standard of living for UAW and USW workers.

“We went from being closed to gaining 130 new jobs,” said Scott Williams, president of UAW Delphi Local 1765 in Lima, Ohio. “It wasn’t without sacrifice, but we gained protections that we would not have if there was no union.”

The agreement covers more than 2,300 UAW members and 6,200 UAW retirees. belonging to UAW locals in Lima; Pottstown, Pa.; Auburn Hills and Rochester Hills, Mich.; Longview, Texas; and Elizabethtown, Ky.; and for USW locals in Fort Wayne and Marion, Ind., and Henderson, Ky.

“This agreement will prove to be an important victory snatched from the jaws of a failed bankruptcy system. It is an example of the UAW using a combination of tried and tested bargaining strategies along with innovative new capital strategies,” said UAW Vice President Bob King, who directs the union’s Independents, Parts and Suppliers Department. “These strategies, along with great solidarity from our local union leadership and membership, made this victory for our UAW Dana members and all UAW members possible.”

Also, the contract provides requirements for the increased likelihood of future profitability for both Dana and union workers. The requirements include limitations on debt, minimum liquidity and a cap on new cash investment.

Centerbridge Capital Partners, an investment company recruited and recommended by the UAW and USW, will invest $500 million in Dana and sponsor the plan to help Dana exit bankruptcy.

“Our members at Dana did a tremendous job under difficult circumstances,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, “and we were able negotiate an agreement that protects workers and their families.

“But this fight doesn’t stop at the bargaining table. We also need political change in Washington, D.C., to prevent companies from attempting to manipulate the bankruptcy laws in order to evade their responsibilities to workers and communities.”

Also in the contract, Dana will pay more than $750 million to Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association (VEBA) trust funds for payment of health care to UAW and USW current and future retirees. This represents more than 70 percent of the projected cost of health care benefits for retirees. Other agreement highlights include:

• Voluntary buyouts of up to $45,000 for eligible employees.

• A new defined-benefit pension plan for all UAW and USW Dana workers, administered by the Steelworkers Pension Trust.

• Post-bankruptcy emergence bonus of common stock valued at approximately $6,000 for each active member with at least one year of seniority.

• A moratorium on moving work out of UAW and USW plants to nonunionized facilities.

• A commitment to source new product lines to UAW- and USW-represented worksites.

UAW auto bargaining facts

Workers’ index


721,025: Number of workers, retirees and surviving spouses covered by negotiations at Chrysler, Ford and GM.

$27.81 per hour: Straight-time wages earned by a typical GM assembly worker in 2006.

$32.32 per hour: Straight-time wages earned by a typical GM skilled-trades worker in 2006.

$206 per hour: Value added by each auto worker for his or her employer, as measured by output of vehicles produced.

8.4%: Portion of the total price of a new vehicle that is accounted for by direct and indirect labor costs at engine, stamping and assembly plants.

Six: Number of UAW and CAW-made vehicles that ranked “best-in-class,” with fewest defects per vehicle, in 2006 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study.

11 out of 12: Number of UAW and CAW plants that were rated most productive, in terms of hours-per-vehicle, when compared to nonunion facilities making similar products.

100%, 100%, 99%: Amount of funding, respectively, in Chrysler, GM and Ford pension plans.

For more background information about 2007 negotiations, see the UAW 2007 Fact Book.

Source: Workers covered by negotiations: UAW; Typical wages: UAW; Value-added per hour: Annual Survey of Manufacturers, U.S. Bureau of the Census; Labor costs as a portion of new vehicle price: UAW Research Department and National Automobile Dealers Association; Vehicle quality: J.D. Power; Productivity: Harbour and Associates; Pension funding: UAW Social Security Department, based on company data.

UAW opens talks with Ford, Chrysler and GM

FIGHTING FOR AMERICA’S FUTURE


The UAW bargaining teams, led by President Ron Gettelfinger, opened 2007 contract talks with Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC in July.

Gettelfinger and Vice President General Holiefield, who directs the union’s Chrysler Department, kicked off talks July 20 by stressing the commitment of UAW members to safety, quality and future job security for Chrysler workers and their families.

UAW Vice President Cal Rapson, who directs the union’s GM Department, and UAW Vice President Bob King, who directs the National Ford Department, opened talks with automakers July 23.

“We’re going into these negotiations as we do every set of negotiations, which is to look out for the best interests of our active and retired membership,” Gettelfinger said.

Current contracts with all three automakers, which cover more than 720,000 active and retired members and surviving spouses, expire at midnight on Sept. 14.

The union’s overall bargaining program was determined by UAW members at the Special Convention on Collective Bargaining this March in Detroit, and specific proposals to the auto companies will reflect the UAW’s democratic decision-making process. “The demands we present to the company originate at the local union level,” said Gettelfinger. “They went through the various subcouncils into the national councils.”

But the issues at stake in auto talks, he said, reach beyond the ranks of union members.

“There are a lot of people who benefit from what we do, whether they’re union members or not,” he said. “We’re fighting for the middle class. We’re fighting for good jobs for America. It’s not just about us — these negotiations are about everybody.”

Delphi agreement brings hope for future

17,000 WORKERS APPROVE NEW PACT


On June 29, some 17,000 UAW-represented workers at 20 Delphi plants voted to ratify an agreement with General Motors’ former parts operation by a majority of 68-32 percent.

The vote, along with court approval of the deal on July 20, moved Delphi closer to emerging out of bankruptcy.

“The UAW never believed that bankruptcy was necessary for GM's former parts operation to succeed as a successful parts supplier,” said UAW President Ron Gettelfinger.

“However, we had an obligation to our membership to make a serious effort to achieve a negotiated settlement.”

For the thousands of Delphi new hires like Brandon Bellinger, a job setter at the Delphi Flint (Mich.) East plant, the agreement brought hope for the future.

“I had faith in my union and certainly the agreement was far better than the original offer the company made last year when they were demanding $9 an hour,” said Bellinger, a 29-year-old member of UAW Local 651. “I’m glad I took the risk to hire in here last May.”

Under the agreement, four of the supplier’s plants will remain owned and operated by Delphi in Rochester N.Y., Grand Rapids, Mich., Lockport, N.Y., and Kokomo, Ind. Four plants in Adrian and Saginaw, Mich.; Sandusky, Ohio, and Cottondale, Ala., will be sold with GM agreeing to retain business at three of the sites.

Three other Delphi plants, including Flint East, Dayton, Ohio, and Saginaw (Mich.) Mfg. will be guaranteed work although managed by a third-party firm until 2015.

Delphi will proceed with the closure of 10 plants.

Although Delphi initially demanded steep wage cuts, the agreement provides for wage increases for production workers like Bellinger, and also skilled-trades workers.

The agreement gives UAW members unprecedented protections and options in the face of Delphi’s bankruptcy filing, such as:

• Buy Down payments of up to $105,000 for traditional production workers who remain at Delphi on Oct. 1, 2007.

• Incentive options for retirement.

• Buy Out options of $140,000 to UAW-Delphi workers with 10 years or more seniority and $70,000 for those with fewer than 10 years.

• Transfer rights back to GM for UAW-Delphi workers hired after Oct. 18, 1999, and before Oct. 8, 2005.

The wage gains and contract protections, said UAW Vice President Cal Rapson, were made possible because workers came together to beat back extreme demands from a company that used a mechanical bankruptcy filing to inflict pain on workers, families and communities.

“We’re proud of the persistent and visible opposition to Delphi’s actions by UAW members at Delphi locations across the country,” said Rapson, who directs the union’s GM Department, which also oversees Delphi.

Honorable Mentions


Eight UAW members who entered the 2007-2008 Artists at Work competition received honorable mentions.

Honorable Mentions

Mike Workman – pen and ink
Assembler, Indiana Transmission I, UAW Local 685, Kokomo, Ind.

April Shipp – textile
Stockroom coordinator, Chrysler Technology Center, UAW Local 412, Warren, Mich.

John Cruz - photography
Team member, Global Engine
Manufacturing Alliance, UAW Local 723, Monroe, Mich.

Norman (Monte) Landis – image transfer and hand-colored assemblage
Inventory controller, St. Louis North Assembly, UAW Local 136, St. Louis, Mo.

Kenneth A. Borkin – photography
Photographer, Chrysler Technology Center, UAW Local 412, Warren, Mich.

Robert W. Rawlings – stainless steel sculpture
Millwright, Chrysler Technology Center, UAW Local 412, Warren, Mich.

Elizabeth V. Jordan – pencil/graphite drawing
(Invited artist and first-place winner in 2005-2006 competition), Welder, Toledo Machining, UAW Local 1435, Perrysburg, Ohio

Christina Haylett – pastel on sand paper
Process engineer, Chrysler Technology Center, UAW Local 212, Sterling Heights, Mich.

 

Conjure up that inspiration

2nd place: Terence Malosh


Eye of the Chicken

The chicken was at the right place at the right time. So was UAW member Terence Malosh.

Thanks to the good timing, great lighting and an eye-catching stance, Malosh created a third-place winning photograph in the Artists at Work competition.

Malosh is a member of UAW Local 12 and a production operator at Toledo (Ohio) North Assembly. He used a Canon EOS 20D digital camera to snap “Eye of the Chicken” while visiting his brother-in-law in southern Ohio.

No one knows what the chicken thinks, but Malosh is delighted.
“I just like taking pictures of things that most people don’t really get a close-up of,” said Malosh. “Sometimes if I’m shooting a landscape, I’ll wait hours until the sun is right or the colors in the sky are just right. I just love doing that,” he said.

Malosh, who has six other photographs in the exhibit, said he shot the photo while standing about 20 feet from the bird.

His interest in photography began when he was a youngster. “My mom took a lot of pictures of us kids, and that influenced me,” said Malosh.
Since then, his work has been displayed at the Toledo Museum of Art and other exhibits in the area.

Malosh, who has entered the Artists at Work competition several times, said he was first encouraged by a co-worker. Now, he too encourages others to “conjure up that inspiration deep inside,” Malosh said. “It only costs your time.”

 

Painting brings 'sense of joy'

First place: Christina Haylett


Christina Haylett Photographs of artists and artwork 
by<br />R.H. Hensleigh
Christina Haylett Photographs of artists and artwork by
R.H. Hensleigh

Her co-workers don’t know it, but Christina Haylett started as a crayon junkie and progressed to pen, pencil, paint brush or just about anything she could find.

What they know now is that Haylett, a UAW Local 212 member, impressed the Artists at Work judges and walked away with top honors for her “Courtney Sleeping,” a pastel on paper.

“As a child, I loved playing with crayons,” said Haylett, who holds a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the College of Creative Studies in Detroit. “Art is something I was always pretty good at and something I have always enjoyed,” she said.

Haylett is a process engineer at the Chrysler Technology Center.
Her winning work warmly captures an artist’s model napping.
“It was a challenge to draw her and capture her essence. When I draw a person, I really think about them,” she said.

Also known for her landscapes, Haylett entered three other pieces in this year’s Artists at Work Exhibition and also won an honorable mention.

“Art is a part of me that’s not always seen at work. The artistic process gives me a sense of joy and accomplishment I cannot duplicate anywhere else. If someone else likes what I do, that is a bonus,” Haylett said.

Often, she said, she will encourage others to do pursue their creativity.
Sometimes people will tell me that they can’t even draw a straight line, Haylett said. “I tell them, desire is 90 percent of the battle.”

Exhibition showcases fruits of labor

Artists at Work


Every day, UAW members excel in the workplace, and every year our members at Chrysler Corp. facilities across the country also showcase enormous creativity that flows beyond the shop floor.

Those UAW members are the artists whose works demonstrate talents ranging from pastel drawings and acrylic paintings to digital photography and metal sculpture.

The 2007-2008 Artists at Work competition marks the seventh juried art exhibition sponsored by the UAW-Chrysler Training Center. It’s the only employee art competition of its kind that is jointly sponsored by a major corporation and a labor union.

This year’s exhibit is the largest ever, attracting a record 1,869 entries. Judges from the professional arts community selected 80 artists and 166 pieces of art. They handed out first-, second- and third-place awards and 15 honorable mentions.

Among the participants are 34 UAW members from 20 Chrysler locations throughout the United States, including Christina Haylett of UAW Local 212 in Sterling Heights, Mich., and Terence Malosh from UAW Local 12 in Toledo, Ohio.

Haylett captured first place with her pastel drawing, titled “Courtney Sleeping,” and Malosh placed third for his “Eye of the Chicken” photograph.

“There are so many ways that UAW members express themselves creatively, and every year it is exciting to see the fruits of that labor,” said UAW Vice President General Holiefield, who directs the union’s Chrysler Department.

This year’s exhibition also includes an Invited Artists category for top winners from the 2005-2006 show who were not eligible to compete for a top award this year.

The judges for 2007-2008 were: Rebecca Tufts, a 2004 Cranbrook Academy of Art graduate who works at a suburban Detroit art gallery; Kegham Tazian, a professor of painting at Oakland (Mich.) Community College; Carole Harris, a fiber artist and founder of one of Michigan’s top African-American, female-owned interior design firms, and Lisa Konikow, coordinator of the fine arts show at the annual Arts, Beats and Eats in Pontiac, Mich.

First Place: Christina Haylet

Second Place: Terence Malosh

Groller: 'The language saved us'


Joe Groller, shop chair of UAW Local 677’s AmeriCold
unit. Photo: PAUL PEARSON
Joe Groller, shop chair of UAW Local 677’s AmeriCold unit. Photo: PAUL PEARSON

Joe Groller has been fighting for his union brothers and sisters all his life, it seems. He grew up in Pennsylvania in a union family, and was a member of three unions before the UAW: the Cement, Lime and Gypsum Workers; Steelworkers, and Teamsters.

In his 17 years as a UAW member Groller’s had his hand in organizing, including the plant where he now works in the department that stores and distributes drugs and pharmaceuticals.

“I’ve been at AmeriCold since 1983. We organized the plant in 1990. There were lots of company takeaways, including part of our medical benefits. The pension plan was poor, and there were policy changes on working conditions. It’s gotten a lot better over the years, ” he said.

When he saw the need to organize he approached the UAW. “It seemed like a better fit for our situation than other unions. I liked the setup of the UAW. I knew the structure from the Mack plant,” Groller said.

The organizing drive took about seven months, start to finish. The company ran the usual anti-union campaign with captive audience meetings, but the workers voted in the UAW.

Then two years ago during negotiations, “we knew we needed engineering standards language in our contract. The company wanted no part of it, so discussions on this one thing alone lasted four months.

“In the end the language saved us,” Groller said.

The language and a tenacious shop chair.

“People have more confidence in the union now,” said Richan. “They saw how hard Joe worked for us. He never stopped.”

Time is on their side

UAW Local 677 workers at AmeriCold find


“People have more confidence in the union now,” says Yaser Richan, who has been at AmeriCold 10 years.  Photos: PAUL PEARSON
“People have more confidence in the union now,” says Yaser Richan, who has been at AmeriCold 10 years. Photos: PAUL PEARSON

The song says it’s funny how time slips away, but nobody in UAW Local 677 was laughing. When the company imposed new production standards on workers at AmeriCold in Fogelsville, Pa., in summer 2006, it seemed that nobody could work fast enough.

Then the suspensions started.

Joe Groller, the unit shop chair, was incredulous. “I was watching some of the best people in the plant being disciplined, so I knew it wasn’t possible to meet these numbers. But I was not able to verify it,” he said.

“The best guys we had were being disciplined. That alone made me know something was wrong.”

Groller was right, and assessments by UAW time study experts verified his suspicions, but meanwhile there were 11 suspensions and two firings.

It all happened so fast.

Groller was told by company officials in July 2006 that new production standards would be implemented the next week.

“Suddenly we were training and trying to get people up to speed,” he said.

The stress on workers was palpable.

“People were scared of losing their jobs. We were working so fast trying to make the numbers that it got unsafe,” said Yaser Richan, a 10-year AmeriCold worker who was among those suspended.

Groller acknowledged there was a marked increase in accidents in September and October. “We had ankle injuries, back injuries. We had to do things at such a fast pace we were hitting each other on forklifts,” he said.

Through it all Groller and Local 677 President Carl Breininger (who has since retired) were talking to the company, trying to make officials see it was impossible to make the numbers, but AmeriCold stood by the standards recommended by Tom Zosel Associates (TZA), based in Long Grove, Ill. It bills itself as “the industry’s leading provider of solutions in distribution, including warehousing and transportation.”

AmeriCold is the largest provider of temperature-controlled food distribution services in the United States. Among its 100 warehouses is the one in Fogelsville, just outside Allentown, where Local 677 members store and distribute frozen foods and pharmaceutical products for major corporations, and ice for FEMA.

TZA came up with times for how long it should take a worker to drive a forklift from point A to point B. “But the standards didn’t take into account things like if you needed to go to the second level of the rack instead of the first. TZA didn’t leave time for that,” Groller said.

Local 677 in southeast Pennsylvania is an amalgamated local union with 2,300 members. Union members work at Mack Trucks Inc. in Harrisburg and in Allentown (where Mack’s international headquarters is right across the street from the union hall) and for the township of Lower Saucon.

And 250 of them work at AmeriCold, where they were furiously trying to resolve the situation.

The union kept talking to the company and tried other things as well.

Region 9 Director Joe Ashton went to New York to meet with board members of Yucaipa Companies, one of the biggest investors in AmeriCold. The Los Angeles-based holding company invests heavily in the supermarket industry and has former President Bill Clinton as one of its advisers.

The union also brought in OSHA that November and learned, among other things, that TZA used average numbers on forklift speeds and some of the lifts being used in Fogelsville simply couldn’t go that fast.

“That was the first time some of the numbers were adjusted,” Groller said. “Then the International came in.”

Vice President Bob King, who directs the UAW’s Competitive Shop/IPS Department, arranged for the union to conduct its own time study.

Trailing behind workers with a stopwatch in different sections of the warehouse for three days, a union-trained efficiency expert determined the numbers set by TZA were 30 percent too high.

TZA’s figures generally were based on products being at ground level, so when they were four high and two deep – four levels high and two racks deep – it obviously took longer. At the end of each day the company prints out a list of times. Its numbers matched those collected by the union. The difference was AmeriCold’s “expected” times, which had no relationship to the actual figures.

UAW time study experts went back two months later for another round of detailed observation. Through it all there were more suspensions “and the company kept hammering at us,” Groller said.

The first firing was in September “and when they chose me, it shocked everybody because I’d been here a long time,” said Bobby Oliver, a 21-year AmeriCold worker.

“From the beginning I felt I was wrongfully fired,” he said. “Some people had numbers below mine and they weren’t fired; they (the company) stopped at suspension. And we knew all the numbers because they posted sheets of everyone’s times.”

It’s not that he wanted someone else to be discharged instead; he just couldn’t make sense of it. Nobody else could either.

“It’s like they were handpicking people to suspend,” said Richan, 35. “They always changed things. One guy was suspended for three days. When he came back they fired him. They suspended somebody for not making their numbers, but somebody else might be lower and they wouldn’t be disciplined.”

There’s a five-step procedure for discipline: oral warning, first written warning, second written warning, three-day suspension and discharge.

Richan was written up because the company said he was taking too long for a job. “I ran out of rack space and needed to make room.

“For instance, you might need to make room for 16 pallets and a rack might have only five pallets, so you move those five somewhere else to make room for the 16. While you’re doing that you aren’t scanning, so they think you aren’t doing anything.”

Groller went with Richan to meet with the company. “They called the foreman in and he told them what I was doing so they threw it out.”

Then the next week he was written up again for the same thing and was called in for another meeting. “I told Joe I just wanted it over with. I was sick of dealing with it. They were going to suspend me no matter what.”

The company suspended him for three days in November.

Bobby Oliver’s co-workers rib him about his “six-month vacation,” but it’s all in jest because it was anything but.

He was fired Sept. 6, two days after Labor Day.

“It was stressful,” he says in a low voice.

“My wife got hurt in a hit-and-run accident right after I got fired so she was out of work too.”

Oliver, 62, is a musician in his off time, playing guitar and bass and doing a little singing with R&B groups in the area. He did a lot of that after September. “The music kept me going.”

It also brought in a little money but not enough. So Bobby and Kim Oliver were thinking about filing for bankruptcy.

He knew his firing was wrong, but as time went on “I had doubts about reinstatement the further away it got.”

Oliver was gone but not forgotten.

The union’s efforts on his behalf – and that of another worker discharged several months after Oliver and the 11 suspended workers – continued.

A meeting was convened in March, for TZA engineers, AmeriCold officials and UAW representatives. They all went to the floor to do observations. Their numbers matched those of the union.

At that meeting, “the company’s regional vice president said he’d do the right thing,” according to Groller. Another person at the meeting quoted a TZA officer saying “it blows me away,” referring to how off-base the standards were.

Oliver was reinstated in March, one month before his arbitration hearing. He and the other disciplined workers received back pay. (The other fired worker has since left AmeriCold.)

The trauma didn’t drop away quickly. “I still felt like a target when I got back,” said Oliver, “but I’m more comfortable now.”

Groller said the company has backed off on standards, though it is trying out a new program at one of its North Carolina facilities which could be brought to Fogelsville.

“Standards are designed to improve productivity and make workers accountable,” said Region 9 Director Ashton. “We are not against the concept, we just want it to be fair.”

Groller echoed that sentiment and added, “Hopefully next time it will start out differently, with everyone on board.”