Constitutional Death of the UAW-- Part #6
William Hanline and Friends!
From the beginning, I have shared the authorship of all six "Constitutional Deaths of the UAW" with "Friends." Why, well Brothers and Sisters, I am nothing more than an assembly worker employed by Delphi Corporation in Athens, Alabama. Moreover, without hesitation I would be the first to admit that without the help and encouragement from several good friends, colleagues, and union brothers and sisters (some I consider my mentors), I probably would never have written these six articles.
My friends and colleagues come from all walks of life and occupations and they help in many different ways. Some help with research, some with editing and others with distribution. Together their combined knowledge of UAW issues stretches across decades of experience as members of the Executive Board of the UAW International Union, former UAW International Representatives, and former presidents of local unions, a labor lawyer and a student of labor history. Even though, as diverse labor activists as we are, we have a couple of things in common, we are all UAW members and we all concur that the "Cooperation Partners," Gettelfinger and Shoemaker are leading the UAW down the road to moral, philosophical, and ethical bankruptcy, in spite of the fact they understand what the legal purpose of a union is and how a union is supposed to act.
Therefore, during past conversations I requested that my colleagues write down their thoughts so I could share them with you instead of you reading what I have to say. I am pleased to introduce a piece written by Brother Thomas Adams from Buick City UAW Local 599 in Flint Michigan. Tom is the Labor Student and we have been sharing information for the past 5 years. I have a very deep regard for Brother Adams. In a personal e-mail to me, Tom wrote.
Intelligent Design? by Tom Adams
As we discussed on the phone earlier, the UAW-GM, "TEAM" is even cozier than we originally thought.
In the beginning (of the 1970s) there was great suffering on the shop floor. Autoworkers were afflicted with the "blue-collar blues," a malady that was characterized by too much work, speed-ups and more money than time to spend it. So the TEAM created QWL. QWL satisfied some, but calmed few of the most disgruntled membership, but little did it matter because GM still held 46% of the market share—and the TEAM saw that it was good.
"Joint Activities" was indeed a noble effort—but this was not enough. So the TEAM created "Quality Network," a project that promised a safer and more humane work environment through education and joint problem solving. The Quality Network was a logical extension of joint activities. Quality Network meant TEAM-work for everyone—a kind of return to Eden, a place where everyone loved one another and toiled together for the common good of creating products of superior quality and of course, satisfied customers.
QN promised to reward UAW members with the keys to worker’s paradise. A place where dignity, job security and quality products would coexist in complete harmony. And QN blossomed into a sprawling bureaucracy with a mysterious god-like organizational structure with bottomless financial resources—the amount of which could only be revealed to the TEAM. Although GM’s product quality plummeted, vehicle recalls skyrocketed, market share by 2000 dropped below 29% and the UAW membership lost over half its membership, the TEAM built themselves a new $300 million temple on Walker St. The TEAM called it the UAW-GM Center for Human Resources—and the TEAM saw that it was good.
At the turn of the twenty-first century health care was apparently GM’s biggest problem. Forget about selling cars, satisfying customers and creating a real return for investors. Yet the universe was not complete, nor was the TEAM ready to rest. So in 1999 UAW-GM decided to the same thing for health care benefits as had proven so effective in product quality and job security for the UAW membership. The TEAM pulled health care into their fabulous temple