It's not rocket science
Happy New Year to all of our Local 602 members active and retired! 2010 was quite a year, with members from over 20 different locals across the country joining our Local 602 family. 2011 looks like another busy and successful year as we continue to produce the world’s best crossovers on three shifts and we anticipate some scheduled overtime soon. 2011 is also a negotiation year and we are in the process of compiling our membership demands, getting them approved by the General Membership and submitting them to the UAW/GM department for inclusion. GM is healthy again and poised for profit, thanks to the sacrifices of our membership both active and retired. We have shared in the pain; now let’s share in the gain!
The labor movement is currently under attack from every angle. Our brothers and sisters who are government and municipal employees are under attack from both state and federal legislators. Management is using a page out of the old playbook stating that whenever their bottom line gets soft and revenues decrease they blame the people and not their process. Rather than eliminate waste in their process, they immediately take money out of our middle-class pockets to pay for their reckless and irresponsible decisions.
It’s not our fault that Wall Street was allowed to plunge us into this recession while they continue to make record profits and bonuses. It’s not our fault that greedy speculators were allowed to drive the price of oil over $140 per barrel, making record profits for oil companies and closing factories here at home.
It’s not our fault that globalization in the name of “Free Trade Capitalism” has cost our American middle class millions of jobs while corporate America continues to search the globe for the low bidder country. It’s not our fault that our retirees’ 401k’s have been cut in half and their benefit packages have been reduced with the stroke of a pen, while executive pay and bonuses continue their meteoric and immoral rise.
So what do we do now? Believe it or not, that answer is quite simple.
The middle class built the economic foundation of this great nation and now that we are shrinking, so too is the economic “greatness” of America. This ain’t rocket science! Rebuild the middle class by creating and protecting good-paying jobs with benefits here in America. That’s it, and that’s all.
See how simple that was, and what is the only movement that fights for, advocates for, and helps to create and protect middle-class jobs? THE LABOR MOVEMENT! We are not the cause of the problem, we are the only solution.
December 2010, "Keep your eyes on the bad guys"
Let me take this opportunity to wish all the membership of UAW Local 602, active and retired, a happy and safe holiday season. Our active employees know what a crazy year we have had at the plant with transfers, maximum overtime, addition of a third shift, and what I would consider to be pretty heavy-handed managers!
Just an FYI for the retired members, we have had members transfer in from all over the USA and Local 602 is now the largest UAW-GM Local in the country. Our membership now represents over 20 different UAW locals from all across the country. This level of change in so short a period of time is extremely stressful and I think it is remarkable that our membership continues to build world-class products each and every day. Thank you for your efforts, and thank you retirees for providing us a strong foundation on which to build. Demand for our crossover products remains strong, and we anticipate a more steady state of production scheduling for 2011.
We will soon be launching our new and improved website, which will keep our expanding membership up to date with news and happenings at Local 602. With the outcome of the recent national and state elections, we expect the attacks on working middle-class families and the unemployed to skyrocket under the guise of “fiscal responsibility”—and I want to keep an eye on the bad guys so we can see what they are up to next.
Just days after the election, the deficit commission has already suggested cuts in Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare, and canceling long-established tax deductions for the middle class. Republican members of the House and Senate are playing poker with the unemployed by betting that we will extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in exchange for unemployment extensions that are critical to the survival of needy families.
And this is just the beginning. They haven’t even been sworn in and they are already shooting across the bow of Labor and the social and economic justice that we fight for.
On the state level, their agenda is to privatize state workers, cut critical social programs for the most vulnerable of our citizens, and in my opinion, “right-to-work” legislation is not far behind! So this holiday season, let’s give thanks for the blessings we enjoy, let’s celebrate the values of a society that cares for one another, and let’s keep both eyes on the bad guys!
Brian Fredline's September 2010 article, "Who are the lucky ones?"
Have you ever had someone approach you and say, “You are lucky to have this job?” Webster defines “lucky” as fortuitous, or acquired by chance and good fortune. As a UAW President, my blood pressure goes off the charts, and I grit my teeth every time I hear the ill-informed statement, “You are lucky to have this job.”
Luck is a flip of the coin. Luck is winning the lottery. Luck is being car number eleven in a ten-car pile-up. As UAW members, we are not “lucky” to have a decent job, we have earned the right to a decent job.
Ray Kroc, the founder of the McDonalds corporation said, “Luck is a dividend of sweat—the more you sweat, the luckier you get.” Well, it seems to me that our UAW membership is pretty lucky, based on that statement.
How lucky we are to accept a job that has forced many of us to move our families halfway across the country and leave all that was sacred to us. How lucky we are to drive for hours round trip, every day, so we can pay the bills.
How lucky we are to have a job that is controlled by a buzzer and a mechanical moving chain that demands mind-numbing, repetitive task every 67 seconds. How lucky we are to have a job where every movement is engineered down to a tenth of a second with a grip, place, bend, walk, get, grasp, or bend.
How lucky we are to have a job where we are confined to a footprint and must endure the invasion of our privacy, when we are forced to “pull a cord” just to go to the bathroom. How lucky we are, when we are threatened with discipline for a problem we did not create, nor can we control.
How lucky we are to have a job where at the end of every day, our muscles are tired, our backs are sore, and our feet can barely carry us home.
I would submit that anyone who thinks we are lucky to have this job has never spent eight hours on an assembly line. Fact is, the more we sweat, the luckier we get.
So who are the lucky ones? The lucky ones are the managers who have the honor of working with the most skilled and dedicated workforce on the globe. The lucky one is the corporation that despite all the recent concessions, confusion, and upheaval, has a workforce who is able to maintain focus and build the highest quality cars and trucks on the planet.
And ultimately, the lucky ones are the customers who are the beneficiaries of our world-class products.
The next time someone tells you, “You are lucky to have this job,” take a moment for a dramatic pause, straighten your aching back, square your drooping shoulders, look them directly in the eye and say, “ No, you are the lucky one, because I will be back tomorrow.”
Brian Fredline's May article "Election notes"
May is going to be another busy month for the local, with preparations for the Constitutional Convention (Con-Con), sub-councils, district committee elections, and the Memorial Day holiday.
We are in the process of installing a new and improved phone system at the hall, which will handle more call volume and provide better service and access to our membership. Circumstances seem to change at warp speed lately, and we are developing the technologies to help our membership stay informed. We will also be updating and redesigning our website to provide real-time information and provide for a better communication process.
The district committee elections will be held on May 25, May 26, and May 27 (for times, see posting in plant or on website). These are important elections that will choose your committee representation for the next three years. I encourage every member in good standing to come to the polls and vote. Campaigning is in full swing, and I want to wish all the candidates good luck as they actively participate in our democratic process.
UAW Local 602 has a long and successful history of one-person, one-vote politics. I think it is refreshing that in this age of partisan politics we have not been encumbered by the confusion of special interest groups or caucuses. Our membership should feel empowered to vote for the candidates of their choice and the majority membership will decide who will be their representatives.
President Obama said it well when he offered this advice: “You will be remembered not but what you destroy, but by what you help to build.” By casting your vote for the candidates of your choice, you will help us build one of the strongest Locals in the UAW-GM department. Now that we have welcomed new members from across the country, we are poised to build upon that success, and to strengthen the cause of social and economic justice for all workers.
Congratulations to our Con-Con delegates. I am confident that our elected delegation will represent UAW Local 602 with dignity and respect.
The same rules apply to the committee vote that applied for the Con-Con election, with one major exception. Retirees are not allowed to vote in our committee elections, only active workers in good standing. Absentee ballots are not allowed unless you are out of the plant on official union business and are unable to attend the election.
Thank you once again in to our new election committee. The Con-Con elections were held with no problems, and I expect the committee elections will follow suit. They will have a challenging task ahead of them as they prepare for the upcoming committee elections, and I have every confidence that they will coordinate an efficient and accurate election. Once again, good luck to all the candidates, run your campaigns with integrity, and may the best persons win!
Brian Fredline's April article, "Busy times for us"
Well, it sure has been a busy first quarter of 2010 for Local 602. We started the year by welcoming hundreds of brothers and sisters from Spring Hill, Tennessee. They are all here by now and we hope that their transition was a smooth one.
We also have welcomed hundreds of brothers and sisters from Grand Rapids, Pontiac, Lake Orion, Flint, Lansing Grand River, Shreveport, Wentzville, Livonia, and many other places from across the country. We have also called back our two-tier family and look forward to them helping us stabilize our workforce.
Like I said, it's been busy, and it is not likely to slow down any time soon. We are anticipating working more overtime than we can understand and our summer shutdown has already been cancelled. In this economic environment we are truly grateful for the prosperity we enjoy. Our hope is that our brothers and sisters across town at Lansing Grand River will get additional product, add a shift or two, and create more opportunity for the City of Lansing and the surrounding areas.
If the "New GM" business model is to run all plants at full capacity, then adding more products for Lansing is the only thing that makes sense. We are confident that as long as there is a GM Company, the Lansing plants will continue to be a critical profit center for the Company and, more importantly, a vital source of strength, stability, and solidarity for the UAW!
Our Con-Con Election will be held in late April and the Convention will be held in June.
Congratulations to the Region 1-C staff members who are retiring.
Ron Gettelfinger, Cal Rapson, and Duane Zuckschwerdt are also retiring after decades of dedicated service to the membership. We wish them all the best as they begin a new chapter in their lives, and we look forward to building upon their strong foundation of solidarity as we welcome and support our new leadership. Stay tuned ...
Brian Fredline's January 2010 article, "What changes!
As this New Year begins, I thought it appropriate to show how many challenges we have endured in 2009, and how close we were to disaster. The following are excerpts from my December 15, 2008 “Life on the Line” article. It brings back bad memories!
“This is a defining moment for our industry and for our union. Our future hangs in the balance of the decision makers on Capitol Hill. In spite of all the bad news we have heard lately, there is cause for hope. The White house announced today that they would not allow the domestic auto industry to collapse. The UAW is cautiously optimistic that bridge funding will be given to GM that allows operations to continue outside of bankruptcy until the new administration takes office. The TARP funding is now being considered in addition to the Treasury dept. extending loans to the big three, and the latest numbers suggest that the bridge funding could be anywhere between 10 and 40 billion dollars.
“Strange times make for strange bedfellows. Who would have thought that the Bush Whitehouse would come to the aid of the domestic manufacturers and their workers. I know it may sound cynical but I believe that part of the motivation for “Bush to the rescue” is that he doesn’t want his legacy to include the collapse of an entire sector of the American economy. With unemployment spiraling out of control, a credit crisis, and a housing meltdown, layoffs and plant closings, this decision should be a no-brainer. I really don’t care what his motivation is, as long as he writes the check. The other cause for hope is that on January 20, 2009 there will be a new President in Washington that understands the need for an American industrial policy that supports the working men and women of this country. We are confident that his economic stimulus plan will begin our turnaround toward stability.
“As we begin this Christmas season, let us give thanks for the blessing we enjoy, and look forward to the New Year with a sense of renewed hope.”
Remember when? Here we are one year removed and our plant is adding a third shift and we have a new product. I know this New Year will hold just as many challenges as 2009, but our challenges will come as a result of new people and new product, and not plant closings, layoffs, transfers, and uncertainty.
The UAW and Local 602 have weathered this perfect storm, and there will be more changes to come as we approach the UAW Constitutional Convention in June, 2010. I used to say Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I think for 2010, “Happy” is a long shot, so here’s wishing everyone a STABLE New Year!
Brian Fredline's December 2009 column:
Challenges of 2009 turn into promise of 2010
By Brian Fredline
Local 602 President
Greetings to the membership of Local 602. I hope all of us will enjoy a happy and safe holiday season. This is the year-end edition of the Labor News, and I sure am glad to see this year, 2009, end. This past year our membership, retired and active, has suffered through the most horrific changes that most of us will ever see. Bankruptcy, global economic meltdown, layoffs, plant closings, skyrocketing unemployment, and the list goes on.
It is truly remarkable that Local 602 fought through these turbulent times, and we have emerged with a new product and a reasonably secure future. We look forward to the promise of 2010, and hope to have all of our Local 602 family back to work, and stay working!
I think our 2010 calendar sums up our feelings when we read a quote from Emerson on the cover that says, “When the sky gets dark enough, you can see the stars.” In the midst of all the dark days of 2009, at Local 602, our people and our product shine on.
The holiday schedule for the plant has been announced and we will be on holiday shutdown starting December 12. The Union Hall will also be shut down during the holiday period. If you have benefit questions during shutdown, there will be a benefit representative at the plant, or you can contact Joe Sagy at the UAW Lansing Regional Office.
Early 2010 will also be a busy time as we prepare to populate for a third shift in April. At the time of this article, we are not sure how many people from Spring Hill will sign up for the 96 moves.
Remember, they are signing up for an offer to be extended through NEPC, and they still have the right to refuse the offer. We may not know the exact number of Spring Hill transfers until the entire list of signups has been tendered an offer. If we do not get enough people from Spring Hill, LDT management may have to go to extended area hire to get enough people to run a third shift. Stay tuned.
Whatever your plans for this holiday season, remember to give thanks for both the challenges and the triumphs of the past year. Rough seas make strong sailors. In 2010, we will build upon that strength and chart a course for continued success.
Brian Fredline's September 2009 column:
Don’t you hate it when the doctor says, “I’ve got some good news and some bad news”? “The good news is we found it early, and the bad news is that there was something to find!” Welcome to the world of the C-word.
I was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer and I had three thoughts come to mind. The first, “Oh my God, I have cancer.” The second, “Oh, thank God I have health care coverage.”
The third, “Oh my God, what if I didn’t have health care coverage?” Would I be one of the millions of Americans who would be faced with the choice of losing their homes, pulling their kids out of college, buying food, or do I save my own life by paying for treatment? I cannot imagine having to make that decision.
God bless the UAW for negotiating health care benefits on my behalf. Rest assured that the corporation you work for, whether you are active or retired, does not offer health care coverage out of the kindness of their heart, or their overpowering sense of obligation to the health and well-being of their current and former employees.
With a global economic meltdown, a GM bankruptcy, and mounting pressure from every direction, (including the US Treasury Department), the UAW was able to maintain basic health care coverage, pensions and supplements for our retirees, and save base wage and base health care for our active employees.
As a union, our expectation is that once GM returns to profitability, we will remind them that the UAW, active and retired, shared in the sacrifice. We will also remind them that we expect a share in the success.
Just for the record, if all goes well, I will be fine. I will endure the pokes and the prods of doctors and nurses and robots. I am scheduled for DaVinci robotic radical prostatectomy surgery at Sparrow Hospital (UAW represented), and I’ll be in good hands. My deepest gratitude goes to all those offering your thoughts and prayers in my behalf.
So guys, get your PSA blood work done, every year. Conquer the audible fear as you hear the snap of the latex glove, and hear “You’ll feel a little pressure,” and save your life for your family, friends and loved ones.
And oh, by the way, the next time a doctor tells you there is some bad news, you can tell them that you have some good news. You have health insurance.