FIRED, INJURED GM WORKERS IN COLOMBIA
Whereas, at its 2014 (36th) Constitutional Convention, the UAW resolved:
“We must win justice for our brothers and sisters around the world, if we
are to win justice for American workers,” and
“We must change the behavior and hold accountable employers that cast basic
labor standards aside and deny workers their rights, regardless of where
their headquarters are located, to ensure that everyone who works for the
same employer enjoys job security, a voice at work and a living wage” and
“We will engage in struggles for human and labor rights around the world,”
Whereas, General Motors continues the practice of firing workers injured on the job or suffering occupational diseases at its Bogota, Colombia assembly plant, and denying them compensation, in violation of Colombia law and Internationally-recognized labor rights,
Whereas, some of these former workers (members of ASOTRECOL) have waged a prolonged fight for justice by occupying an encampment at the US Embassy for the past 6 ½ years, initiating several hunger strikes,
Whereas, the perseverance of these workers has garnered international attention and growing solidarity in the USA and from supporters around the world,
Whereas, that solidarity recently influenced Colombian judges to uphold the rights of injured workers by ordering GM to reinstate 24 such workers the company recently fired,
Whereas, GM refused to comply with the judge’s orders in the case of 12 of those workers, which resulted in a fine and an unprecedented 3-day jail sentence for a GM executive, and the workers are still fighting to get their jobs back,
Whereas, UAW-GM VP Joe Ashton, along with General Motors executives, in 2012 jointly tried without success to get ASOTRECOL to agree to an inadequate monetary settlement, which failed to cover medical expenses associated with their disabilities and more,
Whereas, the now-retired VP Joe Ashton is being investigated for inappropriately receiving payments from the GM-UAW Joint Activities Fund, which resulted in his sudden resignation from the General Motors Board of Directors, and which compromises Ashton’s integrity in his 2012 intervention on behalf of the fired ASOTRECOL GM workers,
Whereas, ASOTRECOL continues to seek justice with support from US labor, religious, human rights, and social justice activists, including many UAW locals and rank and file members who’ve helped raise funds, organized rallies, spoken out at GM shareholder meetings, and engaged in other acts of solidarity;
Therefore, be it resolved
That the UAW adhere to the letter and spirit of the 36th Constitutional Convention Global Solidarity resolution by:
· Demanding that GM uphold Colombian law, and judges’ rulings, by immediately reinstating the 12 injured workers illegally fired in 2016,
· Demanding that GM negotiate a fair and just settlement with the members of ASOTRECOL who’ve persisted in their non-violent tent encampment since 2011,
· Use its website and publications to – in the spirit of an “injury to one is an injury to all” - publicize and educate about the heroic struggle by the Colombian ex-GM workers and encourage local unions to support them in their fight for job security and safe working conditions, a voice at work, and a living wage.
Be it resolved, that this resolution be adopted by a vote of the delegates at the 37th UAW Constitutional Convention to be held in Detroit, Michigan, In June 2018
June 10, 2018
UAW Convention delegates: Undo corruption in the UAW by supporting Resolution #138 in support of fired injured GM workers!
How did the corruption at the top compromise our UAW? How did workers get sold out in exchange for joint funds illicitly funneled to UAW leaders’ pockets?
Former UAW-GM Vice President Joe Ashton is a case in point. Ashton is currently under criminal investigation by a Federal Grand Jury for misappropriating $ from the UAW-GM Joint Funds. He’s also being investigated by GM. When Ashton retired from the UAW in 2014, GM put him on their Board of Directors – a first in UAW/GM history. When the FBI probe went public, Ashton was forced to resign.
In August 2012, as head of the UAW-GM Dept, Ashton traveled with GM executives to Colombia, South America. That’s where non-union injured workers were protesting their illegal firings from a GM assembly plant. They tried to fight the firings in court, but their lawyer was bought-off by GM, as was the judge. They formed an association (ASOTRECOL), set up a protest encampment and demanded reinstatement to jobs they could do & back wages, or a fair severance package.
The workers were at the tent for a year before the GM execs and Ashton showed up, and that was only after 8 of them went on a hunger strike for 22 days, with lips sewn shut. Ashton went along with GM setting up a rigged “mediation.” When the workers rejected GM’s meager “final offer,” Ashton and the executives all packed their bags and split. Back home, GM and Ashton lied that the it was ASOTRECOL that ended the mediation, and that they were just too greedy!
Ashton could have stood up for the workers, exposed GM’s rotten working conditions and illegal practices, and demanded a fair settlement. But then GM wouldn’t have put him on their Board or given him personal access to the joint funds. They rewarded him for his cooperation and degraded our union.
UAW delegates can turn this around, by supporting a resolution submitted by Local Unions in solidarity with the Colombian GM workers. SEE "RESOLUTIONS COMMITTEE RESOLUTIONS" #138. The UAW leadership must reject Ashton’s betrayal and demand that GM reach a fair settlement with the injured workers, who’ve been at the encampment now for nearly seven (7) years. The UAW must publicize the actions of these heroic workers to the membership. Please make a motion to put it to the Convention for a vote.
All eyes are on the UAW Convention. What better way to show our Union’s integrity and solidarity than by fighting on behalf of autoworkers who were forced to work in unsafe conditions and were then fired?
UAW delegates are also urged to protest at 8:30 AM Tues. June 12th at GM headquarters at the Renaissance Center
That's where GM is holding its annual shareholders meeting. What better way to show the world your solidarity than with your feet!!! Let’s show GM where we stand!
That's where GM is holding its annual shareholders meeting. What better way to show the world your solidarity than with your feet!!! Let’s show GM where we stand!
Frank HammerFormer President & Chairman, UAW Local 909, Warren
At the UAW Constitutional Convention, June, 2014 –
A TOOL FOR ELIMINATING TWO-TIER
First and second tier workers at the Big 3 and beyond have been put in a box which they can climb out of. UAW Skilled Trades workers were in that box years ago, and they climbed out of it, sort of.
The problem: skilled trades in the auto plants were always in the minority – even more so in assembly plants, less so in machining or stamping operations – but always in the minority. Come contract time and a tentative settlement, the membership then has to vote. That settlement features agreements that apply to everybody, and then there are specialized agreements that pertain to just skilled trades – like tool allowances and the like. Say the skilled trades vote no because the tool allowance is too small, but the majority of the facility is satisfied with all the general features of the agreement and votes yes. Skilled trades under these rules don’t have a chance.
Somewhere along the way (which is another story) the Constitution was amended to change the way contracts were ratified. The Constitution was amended to include the right of “separate ratification.” In the example above where the members approve a contract overall, but trades rejects, the right of separate ratification kicks in. Management is informed that the contract ratification is incomplete. The UAW bargainers get to work, compile a list of the items in the skilled trades portion of the agreement that were the cause for the skilled trades “no” vote, and return to the negotiating table to see about correcting those rejected, specifically skilled trades agreements. Once corrected, depending on who you talk to, there’s another ratification vote, or it’s considered “ratified” outright. If the skilled trades portion of the agreement is ratified, then the whole agreement is considered ratified. [This is not the way it went down during the ratification vote on the 2011 UAW-Chrysler National Agreement, which is a shameful story that will be the subject of a future blogpost].
UAW CONSTITUTION REFLECT CURRENT REALITY?
The Constitution actually protects the right of separate ratification not only for the Skilled Trades minority, but for Office Workers, Engineers and Technicians as well. See Article 19: http://uaw.org/page/uaw-constitution-contracts-and-negotiations-0 The theory is the same: specialized agreements involving sub-groups. When the UAW and various companies including the Detroit 3 negotiated new terms and special agreements for a sub-group of workers who are considered second tier, they created new candidates for the right of separate ratification. While these tiered agreements have been around for a decade or more, the UAW International Executive Board hasn’t sought to update the Constitution to incorporate this new reality.
So it’s going to have to be up to local union leadership and/or rank and file workers to work to change the way contracts are ratified. It happened for skilled trades, now it must happen for separate groups that used to make up the one group: “production.” UAW members will have to (1) run for Convention Delegate, and (2) submit their resolutions to a vote at their local membership meeting – by mid-April, when the resolutions are due downtown.
HASTENING THE END OF 2-TIER
There are some who've reacted to the proposal by saying they don’t want to put anything in the Constitution that would make 2nd tier a permanent feature of factory life (at least until all the “traditional” workers retired). Yet, what better way to give 2nd tier workers the power to hold the negotiators accountable to them, than by separate ratification? This way the second (or minority tier) won’t have a “2nd tier” contract imposed on them, and the tier 1 workers won’t be in the box of approving an agreement they like while involuntarily imposing an inferior agreement on their 2nd tier brothers and sisters (or sons and daughters). Inserting it into the Constitution – a formidable but worthwhile task at the upcoming convention – will hasten the day when the UAW can rid itself of “two tiers.” Passing a resolution like the one featured here – which has already been a subject of conversation and debate among autoworkers in and out of the Autoworker Caravan – may be the best way to prepare for contract negotiations in 2015.
March 7, 2014
Amendment: Article 19 Section 3 & 4
Strengthen and Expand the Right of Separate Ratification
· Whereas, the UAW membership exercises its democratic will by voting by secret ballot on the ratification of tentative collective bargaining agreements,
· Whereas, Article 19, Section 3 of the UAW Constitution protects groups for which distinct bargaining agreements are negotiated which apply only to those specific groups, such as skilled trades or office workers, by establishing for those groups the Right of Separate Ratification,
· Whereas, the Right of Separate Ratification has been an important tool historically to increase the union’s leverage at the bargaining table,
· Whereas, the Right to Separate Ratification was violated and thereby severely weakened during the 2011 national Chrysler contract ratification when the International Executive Board (IEB) over-ruled the “no” vote by the Chrysler skilled trades membership and declared the contract, “ratified” over their objections,
· Whereas, the UAW in recent years has negotiated to create new groups such as “entry level” or “2nd tier” workers with distinct bargaining agreements pertaining only to those groups,
Whereas, the UAW’s efforts to eradicate two-tier and multi-tier pay and benefits in favor of equal pay for equal work will be strengthened by instituting the Right of Separate Ratification for lower tier workers,
Be It Resolved that, Article 19, Section 3 of the UAW Constitution be strengthened and expanded by amending it as follows:
Upon application to and approval of the International Executive Board, a ratification procedure shall be adopted wherein apprenticeble skilled trades and related workers, office workers, production groups identified as “entry level,” “traditional,” or “tier 1,” tier 2,” etc., and any other similar production subgroup where applicable, engineers, and technicians would vote separately on contractual matters common to all and,
in the same vote on
separate ballots, vote on those
matters which relate exclusively to their group.
Be It Resolved That, Article 19, Section 4 of the UAW Constitution be amended to read as follows:
National agreements and supplements thereof shall be ratified by the Local Unions involved. In the event a majority in a group(s) as described in Article 19 Section 3 vote to reject tentative contractual provisions pertaining specifically to their group(s), a special meeting(s) of the members of the group(s) will be held to identify those specific provisions and to inform the bargaining representatives of the reason(s) for their rejection.
Negotiated changes to those identified provisions will be put to a secret ballot vote by the group(s) affected. If the members of the group vote to ratify, the tentative collective bargaining agreement of which those provisions are a part, if otherwise supported by the membership, shall be considered ratified.
Finally, be it resolved,
That the Local Union transmit this resolution to all UAW Locals and Retiree Chapters in our Region and Sub-council urging its adoption.
March 7, 2014
We are holding our fifth annual demonstration this Sunday, January 12th in front of COBO Center in downtown Detroit, site of the 2014 North American International Auto Show, and we would like YOU to join us!
We choose the day before "media week" because reporters are here from around the world, and don't start reporting on the auto show until Monday, 1/13. Many are looking for a story about the auto industry and Detroit, and in past years have come out to interview us on our picket line. This year that's especially true what with the take-over of Detroit and the city entering into bankruptcy, the sale of the remaining government shares in GM, FIAT taking over 100% ownership of Chrysler, etc.
We see this as a golden opportunity to get past the Detroit corporate media censorship and tell our side of the story: that the 1% are making out like bandits while autoworkers are living with concessionary contracts and city workers are getting thrown under the bus. This is a time to make NOISE! The world is watching to see what autoworkers, and the working class and people of Detroit and all of Michigan are doing in response to the assaults on our livelihoods and democratic rights. This is the time to develop our own agenda that will help bring us together to fight as part of one common cause.
We are gathering from 1-2:30 pm in front of COBO. We will then walk to the nearby Anchor Bar to warm up,socialize, and strategize. The bar is located at 450 W Fort St, Detroit, MI 48226.
The good news is that weather forecasters are predicting a balmy high of 38 degrees.
Attached you'll find a jpg version of the Autoworker Caravan leaflet. We hope you'll read it for all the issues we are hoping to address, get some copies made so that you can share them with family and friends, post them at work or put up on your facebook.
You can find out more on facebook at
Looking forward to coming together and making noise that they cannot ignore!
January 7, 2014
by Frank HammerOctober 23, 2013 Update: Concerned that VW workers were reading this letter to the skilled trades workers, the pro-company so-called "team members" decided to pull their link to the Autoworker Caravan blog. Maybe they'll follow that up with a change to the name of their website: "No to INFORMED Auto Workers!" FH
Letter to Volkswagen Skilled Trades workers
If you were browsing on the website: NO TO UNINFORMED AUTO WORKERS and clicked a
link that brought you to this page on the Autoworker Caravan blog, welcome!
blog that the “Concerned VW Team Members” intended for you to see appears
below. Being a union member, I was just a wee bit surprised that folks
opposing unions, and the UAW in particular would be so eager to urge skilled
workers at Volkswagen to read my stuff. You
have to admit, it’s pretty unusual when folks with an anti-union agenda post an
article by a writer who is firmly pro-union.
32-year career in auto
I retired in 2007 after
working for 32 years at GM as a member of the UAW. I worked production for six years, mostly
sweating on an assembly line. I then entered
a skilled trades apprenticeship, and became a Journeyman Pipefitter. I was also active in my union, and was
elected and re-elected by my co-workers to represent them as Bargaining Chair
(and also President). On behalf of 3,500
workers (including 800 master mechanics and maintenance employees) I led two
successful contract negotiations with General Motors. Believe me, I’ve seen the best and worst of
General Motors, and of the UAW, and I have not been shy to express my views.
are under the gun - everywhere
We have more in common
than you first might think. We are faced
with the same pressures and therefore the same problems. The VW team members' site spells it out right on their website:
If you do not like the conditions under which you were
hired, and it wasn't a secret (remember that entire day you worked for free at
the Park Palace?) how difficult it would be, then go somewhere else! This is
America. Last time we looked, 50,000 other people have turned in applications
to do YOUR job, to have YOUR healthy wages, YOUR 4-day work week and YOUR very,
very good benefits.
All autoworkers – whether union member or not – are
hearing the same thing. Everyday UAW
members at the Detroit 3 plants are being told, “be glad you have your job.” We all know that there’s so much unemployment
out there, the companies can find someone who will be only too glad to take your
job. That’s something we all have in
common. And what we are discovering is
that these companies have us playing musical chairs with our jobs- afraid that
when the music stops, one of us is going to be SOL.
When the UAW and the “Big 3” were still thriving
back in the 60s and 70s, they set – through negotiation and confrontation - the
standards that the non-union companies would have to follow as they came on the
scene in the 80s. And follow the lead of
the unionized North they did, with one simple goal: to keep the workers in the
non-union shops from having a reason to want to join a union. The had to set the wages and benefits
somewhere close to what our union had won, (sometimes as a result of a strike).
Our gains = your gains =
Back when I was in my factory, all the (non-union)
supervisors cheered when GM and the UAW concluded their negotiations and got a
new contract because the supervisors gained when we gained. GM had to give them raises, too (and they got
away without paying for the services rendered by the union). That’s pretty much the way I see it when it
comes to the non-union workers in the South and us up here in the North. Our gains were also your gains. We pay for them and, well, you haven’t.
Wall St banksters used the scandalous financial
crisis of their own making in 2008 to take GM and Chrysler through a so-called “structured
bankruptcy” in 2009. They used it to
take a lot of our hard fought gains away.
In fact, the government – at the prodding of Southern senators Corker
and Shelby – forced the UAW-represented plants to copy the non-union plants in
pay and benefits. Or else. The wages of senior workers were frozen, that
of new hires cut 33 to 50%. Autoworkers lost
their protection against inflation (COLA), their time-and-a-half overtime pay
after working a full shift, new hires won’t receive pensions, and much more.
When we lose, you lose
So now the non-union auto companies don’t have
to raise their standards; GM’s and Chrysler’s bankruptcy restructuring took
care of that. Just to prove my point,
Honda – the non-union auto company in Ohio – announced one month ago that it is eliminating pensions for new hires and “reducing benefits for the
people already with the company.” The
article goes on to say that “Honda follows Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and Nissan in moving away from
pensions for new employees.” Sure enough, the long term
Honda blue collar employee who was interviewed by a reporter for the Columbus Dispatch spoke about management’s
takeaways on condition of anonymity.
Otherwise you know what would happen. http://bit.ly/16jv9EP
When union members lose, non-union workers lose
as well. And when non-union workers get
set back, so will those of us in the union.
The only winners are the CEOs who are enriching themselves and their
companies’ wealthy investors. Corporate-funded outfits like the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation don’t
care about you or me. They want to sow
divisions among us all, while we are confronted by companies that are saying, “our way, or the highway.” The
“Concerned VW Team Members” gloat about this on their website and say “this is
what America is all about.” I think these comments show their true colors as
lapdogs for management. I was amazed
that they would be happy to remind VW “team” members about having had to work for
free (!) How many days do you think that
CEOs work for free?
Yes to informed auto workers!
If the “No to Uninformed Auto Workers” was really
about informing autoworkers, the site
would feature a document called, “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” You can access the document by clicking http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml
U.S. helped write, and then signed this document back in 1948, right after the defeat of fascism and the end of WW2. Article 23 establishes several workers' rights, including the right of every worker to form a union: “Everyone has the
right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of [their] interests.” Protecting our interests requires workers banding together to have a voice; alone we
work at the mercy of management. The
only way we can work together on behalf of our interests is by being organized in
union locals at all the auto plants, and being part of a larger union, the UAW,
so that we can have some collective clout.
Otherwise, it’s “Our way, or the highway.”
Letter to Volkswagen Skilled Trades workersIf you were browsing on the website: NO TO UNINFORMED AUTO WORKERS and clicked a link that brought you to this page on the Autoworker Caravan blog, welcome!
Democracy is a never-ending battle
If you read the 2012 blog below you will see that
I am concerned about how that clout gets exercised One of the
best features of a good union is its practice of internal democracy. The
stronger it is, the more attractive the union is to workers. Being able
to vote to accept or reject a contract is part of that. Being able to vote on who will represent you
or, better yet, deciding you’ll run for election yourself, is part of
That's why my article talks about
voting practices regarding the acceptance or rejection of a contract. The
article points out inconsistencies, where it's been done right, and where not.
Even as a retiree, I continue to strive to protect member democracy as do
other UAW members who are part of the Autoworker Caravan. If and when you
become members of the UAW, you will need to form a tight core of worker
organizers and insist on your democratic rights which are protected by Federal
Law and the UAW Constitution. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you vote to join the union, UAW members and
retirees will welcome you with open arms, as I am sure will all the unionized
VW workers around the world.
If you read the 2012 blog below you will see that I am concerned about how that clout gets exercised One of the best features of a good union is its practice of internal democracy. The stronger it is, the more attractive the union is to workers. Being able to vote to accept or reject a contract is part of that. Being able to vote on who will represent you or, better yet, deciding you’ll run for election yourself, is part of that.
That's why my article talks about voting practices regarding the acceptance or rejection of a contract. The article points out inconsistencies, where it's been done right, and where not. Even as a retiree, I continue to strive to protect member democracy as do other UAW members who are part of the Autoworker Caravan. If and when you become members of the UAW, you will need to form a tight core of worker organizers and insist on your democratic rights which are protected by Federal Law and the UAW Constitution. Write to us at email@example.com for assistance.
If you vote to join the union, UAW members and retirees will welcome you with open arms, as I am sure will all the unionized VW workers around the world.
Disclaimer: The Autoworker
Caravan blog and the Autoworker Caravan network have no affiliation with the “Concerned
VW Team Members,” or their website, “No to Uninformed Auto Workers,” and do not
endorse their anti-union agenda.
October 21, 2013