issue #16 (July 6, 1999) of "The Barking Dog."

The B.D. is an unofficial, prounion newsletter edited by Caroline Lund, a rank-and-file member of UAW Local 2244 at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA.


The Bombing of Yugoslavia

The U.S./NATO bombed Yugoslavia for 78 days. The bombs dropped equalled two-thirds the force of the atom bomb on Hiroshima. NATO bombed bridges, railways, oil refineries, hospitals, water treatment plants, auto plants and other factories, and housing projects. NATO even bombed Kosovo, which it was supposedly trying to protect.

Yugoslavia is only the size of Kentucky, with 10 million people. Time magazine says at least one-half the buildings in Kosovo have been destroyed, and there are no livestock or crops left. The people we were supposedly trying to help are worse off than before.

I don't believe for a minute that Clinton ordered the bombings for "humanitarian reasons." The rich and powerful who run this country are not humanitarians. They have had no problem supporting many murderous dictatorial regimes in the past -- from Pinochet in Chile, to the apartheid regime in South Africa.

I believe this war was basically about money and power. The U.S. and European corporations and bankers want to move into Eastern Europe and dominate it and make money off it the way they do most of the rest of the world. But first they need to create conditions of stability and where the working people are ready to work for them like slaves. What better means than to bomb the hell out of the Yugoslavs and then take charge of rebuilding from the ground up?

The American people are very humanitarian, but our government is not. Our government runs by the "Golden Rule" -- those who got the gold make the rules. The rich use the government to help themselves get richer, at home and abroad.

I think the unions should have spoken out against the brutal bombing of Yugoslavia. Those bombs only hurt Yugoslav working-class people just like ourselves. Let the Yugoslav people themselves bring down their dictator, Milosovic. And the Kosovar people are fully capable of winning their own right to self-determination.

Caroline Lund


Right To File A Grievance

When a worker has a complaint there is a first step to solving the problem: the right to a written grievance. But what usually takes place is, the worker will hear no more of that grievance.

However big or little a grievance may seem to a Committeeman, it's a BIG thing to the worker.

Many times, grievances have been pulled out by a Committeeman WITHOUT THE PERMISSION of the worker.

And why it is that a worker has to keep asking and/or get the runaround? No one likes pressure, but also no one likes their rights to be taken away and be left feeling so violated.

A Concerned Member


Update on Caterpillar

Remember the Caterpillar strike? For six years our UAW Caterpillar brothers and sisters (13,000 of them) waged a hard, hard struggle, first going out on an economic strike, then an unfair labor practices strike. Finally, in 1998, the UAW International leadership asked them to go back to work with a 6-year contract but giving up on 441 unfair labor practice complaints and agreeing to leave out on the street some 50 of the union's best fighters who had been fired for their strike activity.

The rank-and-file revolted and voted down the contract proosal. Then Caterpillar folded, and agreed to take back all the fired union members.

Gregg Shotwell was a delegate from a Michigan Local to our union's Constitutional Convention a year ago. He writes, "The most appalling moment at the convention came when Brother Yokich [International President], referring to the CAT strike, said, 'Don't let anyone tell you we didn't win that.' Then he swung a left hook at a shadow and yelled, 'Goddammit!'"

Well, I got to speak recently with Larry Solomon, former president of UAW Local 751 at the Caterpillar plant in Decatur, Illinois. Larry has a different take on that struggle.

"It was a defeat," he said. "Ask the people who filed all the unfair labor practice charges, who documented all those attacks by Cat on our union. Ask the people who were leading that struggle in the plants, on the ground."

He continued, "The International agreed to throw out 441 of the most serious unfair labor practice charges ever filed in this country. It was a total loss for the UAW.

The charges had to do with such things as the right to wear pro-union T-shirts, to wear union buttons, and to pass out literature.

Larry said, "We had meticulously followed these charges all the way through. And the National Labor Relations Board had found there was merit to these charges. The International agreed to just throw them out as if they meant nothing."

"Nearly a dozen members committed suicide in the course of our struggle." When the International proposed accepting a contract that would not bring back 50 people fired for union activity, Larry was outraged. "They were our union's best supporters and fighters," said Larry. "So people everywhere said NO." The contract was voted down by 70% In Decatur it was a 90% NO vote.

Larry told me about another outrage. The contract brought into the union all the scabs that had been hired during the strikes. But they were not required to pay dues back to when they were hired. The back dues would have amounted to around $1.8 million.

BUT, the International came and demanded that Local 751 pay back $1 million in back dues which it had spent on solidarity activities during the strikes. When Local 751 couldn't pay up, the International put them into receivership (that is when the International runs your union instead of the elected officers of the Local).

Larry concluded, "The UAW is going to have to start acting like a real union or we're not going to have any union left."

Caroline Lund

Dieser Text liegt auch auf deutsch vor!


We Need Fairminded Management

My name is Randy Lopez and I have worked for NUMMI for 9 years. I put in a transfer for Trucks (production) and have been on the Transfer list for about 6 months now and feel that my rights have been violated.

I feel that deals go on between management and union reps to place other workers that are not on the transfer list or that have less seniority. They can find 101 other reasons why they do it.

I realize the great weight and meaning of our Agreement Book. But to management and some union officials, it is not so important unless they want to use it for reasons favorable to them.

My second point is: I know NUMMI involves a never-ending effort to trim costs. We are in the same boat together. But you cannot build trust from the ground up with the Company's hard efficiency drive. Management and Union: The Agreement Book needs respect, so the workers can exhibit trust back.

Randy Lopez


Summer Hires in High Seniority Jobs

I had to work for years on the line before I got my job in Conveyance. It took a year in Conveyance before my hands would even work right again, after working on the line (in the glass area).

Some of those jobs on the line, it only takes a day or two and your hands, or back, or shoulders are messed up.

Why not put the college-student summer hires on the line, the way everybody else has to start out? There are plenty of higher-seniority people on the Transfer List waiting for those off-line jobs.

There are floaters who can fill in for people on LOA or vacation on the high seniority jobs.

Plus, is it safe to have teenagers, brand new to the plant, driving tugs? I thought safety was supposed to be so important here.



Comments From Readers -- at Saturn!

I found your "Barking Dog" here at the Saturn plant and was quite surprised at how similar our problems with this new order of Management are.

Now, I know that Saturn is supposed to be a different kind of car company. But the only difference I have found since I came here, after 21 years with GM, is that I have been manipulated into a brainwashed environment of management control.

Yes, we elected the old Union leadership out with a unanimous vote. But this election was moved up 2 months for the reason I believe that the old regime could get their people into safe, secure, good jobs before the new leadership took over in June. The new leadership has yet to show me their dedication to the membership. The jury is still out on them; we'll see in time.

I'm not sure what NUMMI is, but I support your courage to try and make a stand against something you feel is wrong. # Good luck in your battle, or I might call quest, in trying to make things better for Union Brothers and Sisters.



How Much Are You Worth?

From sports figures to CEOs -- why such big paychecks, when it is the people below them that make their stars shine? Why isn't the reward for a job well done greasing more palms than the one on top?

The big paychecks of sports figures making a sport event (entertainment) are so far out of reach for many.

The reward for a job well done has lost all perspective. All of us are dealing with corporation downsizing, cost cuts, benefit cuts, etc.

Why pay so much for one head when the cost of one CEO salary could pay for many good workers?

We need better benefits, working conditios, vacation, maybe even some company perks, for the little person that makes the big man look good.

Maybe but maybe, someday someone will figure out that this whole country is filled with ordinary, everyday CEOs and sports figures that are not appreciated.

Bernadette Lewis


Volunteers Wanted

Tony DeJesus is an Organizer for our International union. He spoke to our Local Executive Board and the June Membership Meeting, asking for volunteers from our Local to help with union organizing, especially of NUMMI parts suppliers in this area. If anyone is interested in doing this, see Tony at the Union Hall, or call him at 510-656-9901.


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Quote of the Month:

"Those who profess to favor freedom and yet depreciate agitation, are people who want crops without ploughing the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the roar of its many waters. The struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both. But it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand: it never has and it never will."

Frederick Douglas, 1857