Picture this! I’m a new hire in the late 90s, vanpooling with a bunch of guys from Gratiot County, who at that time had over 20 years of seniority at GM. I never worked in a shop before and I was clueless! Yes, the van got a little loud and crazy on our way home from working 2nd shift. Whenever the plant had to shut down early due to a breakdown, you can bet that our vanpool stopped at the party store before we hit the highway back to Gratiot County. My go-to was always Mt Dew and a bag of chips. Larry Rhode was the owner and driver of the van. Doug Terwilliger and Denny Wolfgang were the main jokesters in the van and Eddie Fell was the quiet one. It was the popular vanpool to be in back in the day. Believe it or not, I learned the most from this group of guys. Whatever the boss tried to pull during the shift, was always talked about in that van. My fellow vanpoolers weren’t committee men and never held an elected position, but they sure knew the contract. I heard a lot of, “Oh no, they can’t do that” and “You make a committee call tomorrow”. Back then, contract knowledge was passed on from worker to worker, we didn’t have social media and most didn’t even have cell phones. The point is, that contract education was talked about all the time. Most people knew the contract, and that was very valuable. I was lucky when I was hired because most of my co-workers working beside and around me were high seniority and they taught me “plant life”. The information and history that high seniority knew was passed on to the next generation and that was key. That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history. -Aldous Huxley
I think it is essential to pass on information to the next generation. This is why I contacted a UAW archivist from the Walter Reuther Library at Wayne State University. He said they don’t have much information on Local 652 and would like to come to the hall to start tagging information that he would like to have at the Walter Reuther library. We have so much history at Local 652 and it would be a shame if the story was left untold. Once it is at the library, Local 652 history will live on and can be studied by generations to come. The UAW Archivist is considering making a video, so more news to come on that. Some of you just might get a phone call from me, asking if you would give a recorded interview. If this is something you are willing to share, give me a call at the union hall. As always, it is my honor and pleasure to serve as Local 652 Vice President. If there is anything I can do to help, please don’t hesitate to call.