Autoworker Caravan Newsletter Issue 3 Vol1
Volume 1, Issue 3
November 27, 2012
Autoworker Speakout Focuses on Working Conditions
By Martha Grevatt
he Autoworker Speakout held September 9 put the spotlight on the abuses we are dealing with in our plants.
Several dozen autoworkers representing eighteen
locals, from Ford, GM, Chrysler, parts, Ryder and the National
Writers Union, attended. Here are some of the contributions:
Eric Truss, Local 600, Ford, described shop fights over
sewage odor and working in 102 degree heat with no heat break.
Clyde Walker, Local 869, Chrysler, was a TPT (temporary
part time) for nine years. When they made him permanent fulltime his pay was cut to second-tier rate.
A Local 212 Chrysler transport worker described losing
overtime pay because of the Flexible Operating Pattern
schedules at assembly and parts plants.
Dan Kelley, Local 892, Ford/Faurecia, said French parts
supplier Faurecia is bringing 500 new $11-an-hour jobs to Detroit
but cutting more than that in Saline. With multiple tiers and temporary workers doing the work of Ford workers being transferred
out, “they've created all this animosity.” Management threw
away tables and chairs and refused to provide water and ice.
Dean Parm, retiree, Local 699, Nexteer, said with five
or six tiers “half the workforce is being whipsawed against
the other half.”
Alex Wassell, Local 869, said “Sales are up, profits are
up, executive pay is way up. This is a jobless, payless recovery.
That's why we have people begging on Mound Rd.”
Judy Wraight, retiree, Local 600, Ford said, “who here
does not hurt? These jobs hurt. I did the repair parts but I don't
get any replacement body parts” She also called for a shorter
work week, 30 hours work for 40 hours pay.
Who We Are
Autoworker Caravan (AWC) was formed by a group of
rank-and-file autoworkers at the Big Three and parts
suppliers during the 2008 economic crisis, when autoworkers
were taking the fall for poor decisions by management.
AWC went to Washington DC to oppose concessions by
the union in order to supposedly “save” the industry. Our
wages and benefits amount to well under 10% of a vehicle's
cost! We have been taking concessions since the bailout of
Chrysler thirty years ago.
A month after the DC trip AWC demonstrated outside the
Detroit Auto Show. We’ve done so every year since. Our
cities still suffer from mass unemployment for which the
auto bosses are partly responsible—75 plants have closed in
Michigan alone since 1979!
We’ve witnessed the escalating crisis of global warming
to which the auto industry is a contributor. AWC calls for a
moratorium on plant closings and demand closed plants be
retooled and reopened to build green products, from wind
turbines to light rail cars and buses. This will create good jobs
to employ workers abandoned by the Wall Street economy.
Some Auto Workers Who Spoke Up at the Speakout
Asotrecol President Jorge Parra Top Right picture
Photo by Frank Hammer
Peggy Ciccinelli, Local 1112, GM, said “you have to
faint if you are going to get anything done” about the heat.
“We got a war going on.”
Ron Lare, retiree, Local 600 said, “If 20 people refuse to
work for an hour, you don't hear that in the media,” so workers
should write about these floor fights for the AWC newsletter.
Debi Muncy of Local 892 and Reggie Kendrick of Local
600 moderated the program.
Many, who came with little awareness of the plight of
autoworkers in other countries, heard a deeply moving and
informative talk by Jorge Parra, President of the Association
of Injured Workers and Ex-workers of GM Colombia (Asotrecol).
Parra described the dire situation of GM workers in Colombia,
(continued on back of page)
We believe that a job is a human right. We see the need
for solidarity across borders and oceans. Workers in other
countries —or from other countries—are our sisters and
brothers, not our enemies. We must fight to improve
conditions for all workers.
AWC has opposed concessions, particularly two-tier
wages and benefits. Before the 2011 contract we developed
leaflets informing members that concessions were not needed.
We exposed the injustice of a contract that left a huge gap
between first and second tier pay and institutionalized all the
rotten concessions we’ve swallowed. Many of the plants that
voted no were plants where the AWC campaigned.
AutoworkerCaravan Newsletter editors:
Dianne Feeley, UAW Local 235 (retired)
Martha Grevatt, UAW Local 869
Frank Hammer, UAW Local 909 (retired)
Scott Houldieson UAW Local 551
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Chrysler Chief, Marchionne, Labeled a “Union Buster” in Italy
By George Windau
hile “CBS 60 Minutes” suggested that Sergio
Marchionne of FIAT was some kind of genius for
saving Chrysler in the USA, in Italy workers consider
Marchionne a “union buster.” I say this based upon an interview
with Adriano Alessandria, a member of the Federation of Italian
Metal and Office Workers (FIOM). I conducted the interview
with the help of Stella Pavnosetti, an interpreter, on May 20,
2012 while I was at an autoworkers conference in Munich, Germany.
Last year Marchionne unilaterally revoked a Bargaining
Agreement with all three unions at FIAT in Italy. FIOM, Adriano's
union, represented the majority of the workers. Marchionne said
he had a “production plan” to double output and ramp up profits,
but he needed Italian workers to agree to concessions, some of
Alternate Work Schedule, paying straight time for
production work on Saturdays and Sundays
Workers on call two hours before their regular shift
and be available two hours afterward whenever
Sick pay sharply reduced
Restrictions placed upon when union reps can conduct
FIOM said “NO,” and demanded the pay raises that had
been negotiated in the revoked contract. But while FIOM conducted
a short strike, the other two unions, FIM and ULIM, caved in.
FIOM said the vote was invalid since it was not a contract vote
conducted by the union and urged workers to vote “NO.”
A massive media campaign was conducted, with all Italian
political leaders appearing on TV, urging FIAT workers to vote
“YES” on the production plan. Even the Roman Catholic Church
urged workers to vote “YES.” In one area, parish priests warned
that FIAT workers voted “NO” they would be responsible for
allowing an economic crisis that would allow the Mafia to regain
control of southern Italy.
Marchionne's plan received a 60% YES vote, but because
FIOM openly opposed the plan, FIOM-represented workers were
not allowed back in the plants. In order to return to work they
were forced to drop their FIOM membership.
At a news conference, a reporter asked Marchionne if he
considered himself to be a “union buster.” He replied “no,” there
were still unions at FIAT--some of his workers simply and
voluntarily changed their affiliation. That's a lie that Italian
workers can see through. Too bad “CBS 60 Minutes” failed to
mention this fact to U.S. viewers.
Clearly the plan was an ultimatum. Marchionne then
proceeded to have the company carry out and count the vote.
Despite the odds they face, FIOM continues to organize
within the FIAT plants.
UAW Developments at Ford
Contributors: Ron Lare, Jeff Brown, Scott Houldieson
eptember 10, 2012 Auto Alliance International
changed its name to Flat Rock Assembly Plant
(FRAP). On September 17, 2012, Local 3000
members went to the polls to vote on a new Local
Agreement. The membership passed the new agreement, but
skilled trades members rejected the skilled trades part of the
As of the deadline for this issue UAW LOCAL 551
Chicago Assembly Plant has not been offered a local contract
to consider ratifying. We assume to be working under the
2008 local agreement which was voted down by skilled trades.
There was never any attempt to understand the reasons for skilled
trades declining the contract in 2008. It was subsequently
Alternative Work Schedules, two tier wages, and
mandatory overtime of 12 hour shifts for trades and as much as
11.5 hour shifts for production have taken their toll on morale.
Indicators such as absenteeism, calls to the Harassment Hotline,
and altercations are extremely high. A Local 600 trades worker
wrote to Autoworker Caravan: "AWS destroying families.
Workers are no longer able to participate in family activities.
Ford comes FIRST!!!”
The Detroit Free Press reported on October 21, 2012
that the next generation Taurus would be built at FRAP, in
a couple of years. These cars will be build at FRAP along
with the FORD MUSTANG and the FORD FUSION.
The Saline Plant, represented by Local 892, has seen lots
of churn and change since 2000 when Ford spun off most of
its parts plants as Visteon. As you can imagine these ownership
changes have been difficult, to say the least, for our UAW
brothers and sisters at Local 892.
(continued from front)
who work until they are injured or incapacitated by repetitive
strain conditions. Then they are fired. His organization is fighting
for the workers to be given jobs at GM that they can do with
their conditions, or be given a pension if they cannot work. “GM
was saved with your tax dollars that are being used to finance
human rights abuse in Colombia,” Parra said. Asotrecol's
occupation outside the U.S. embassy in Bogota was in its 405th
day when he addressed our Speakout. Parra could feel the warm
solidarity in the room of his sister and brother autoworkers.
The Oakland Press published a story about Asotrecol. The
Youngstown (Ohio) Vindicator ran a story based on a phone
interview with Caravan activist and Local 909 retiree Frank
In 2005, as a means of avoiding bankruptcy and a parts
supply disruption, Visteon transferred ownership of the
Saline plant back to Ford under Automotive Components Holdings
(ACH). ACH was to sell or close the plant by 2008. In
November 2007 ACH announced a tentative deal to sell the
plant to Johnson Controls, but that deal hinged on them
reaching a “Competitive Labor Agreement” (more
concessions). The deal fell through. In 2011 French auto parts
company Faurecia began negotiating a purchase of the Saline
Plant. In April 2012 Local 892 reached an agreement with
Faurecia. This agreement was the final piece of the puzzle
finalizing the sale. Now Devon Alpha Services has entered the
picture. The role of Devon Alpha Services at Saline is unclear. At
Chicago Assembly Plant a handfull of retired skilled trades
have been brought back on a temporary basis under the Devon
Alpha Services umbrella. The workers and the community
suffer because of all these spinoffs and related concessions.