Workers say they helped Ford survive, but continue to be exploited
By Pat Meyer
Recently AXS-TV broadcasted a show dealing with American workers who have been displaced by foreign workers in this country. The issue we are dealing with is the “temporary” workers of the ACH (Automotive Component Holdings) Corporation who helped Ford Motor Company to make such a miraculous recovery at the expense of their pay and benefits. Unlike the workers in their piece being from foreign countries, it was the corporation which was brought in from another country to lower wages and benefits. The Ford Motor Company seems to have benefitted greatly by “leasing the business” to another company while maintaining control of property, equipment, process, and workers.
These so called “temp” workers have in fact been working in Ford facilities for seven years, many putting in 10 and 12 hour days, six and seven days a week. Of course being a temporary qualifies them to no insurance, half price pay, and no written contract covering them until the September 2011 contract. They have been dues-paying union members the entire time with no representation or contract of their own. Even the barest essential of bereavement pay has been refused to them under the name of helping Ford survive. All along these temporaries have been promised to have preferential hiring rights to Ford, after the new buyer gives consent to releasing them. It seems these temporary employees had been “sold” along with the business to guarantee the new owner could take over with a skilled workforce that would insure the new company could maintain the productivity and quality of Ford standards.
Debi Muncy, a Ford worker, has been proud to pay union dues for almost 30 years. She has given of her family time and financial donations to help support many activities that were and still are of importance to raising standards for working people. She feels that the temporary workers have been treated like second class union workers. She has not paid union dues to support this kind of treatment. Debi is ashamed to see that both Ford corporate execs and union “exec” leadership have prospered in pay rates and bonuses while standing on the back of these workers. At some point the union has stopped representing workers and become the employment agents for this corporation. Any objections to this is met with intimidation by both union and company officials.
As we approach the holidays that say how great America is I’m saddened to know how devalued the American workers have become. Debi states, “I love this country and I loved my union, but until it lives up to its guiding words I feel that all workers have been sold out.”
American workers’ lives are better for having had good paying jobs and benefits, but we must recognize that our workers have worked hard to achieve these goals. Do companies stay great because of their plan of operation alone, or do they become great because of the operation plan along with the hard working people who get up every day and come to work and do a good job? How much profit can a corporation make when it decides it doesn’t need to pay their own workers enough to be able to afford the product they make?
We feel our country needs to know at what price some of our corporations have prospered. We at the LAWS, INC. have been attempting to find some kind of justice for these workers and have been reminded that many things are wrong even though they are not considered illegal. We feel that it certainly should be illegal to profit from workers’ loss.
I would encourage you to contact firstname.lastname@example.org immediately and let Dan Rather and his associates know what is happening to you and your fellow workers. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me at email@example.com or at 269-998-4609.
MILAN WORKERS of A C H
This is written to clearly show how the Milan membership was set aside from any offers presented to other locations. International UAW officials attended meetings here to explain to the membership what their choices would be upon the sale of the Milan location. They were told by rep Jody Dunn that there was no offer of employment to Ford locations. If they wanted to continue to be employed they could choose to sign up with the INERGY AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS. If this was not acceptable, they could be terminated. No offer of work at other ACH locations, still operating at this time. It was not until other ACH plants reached sale agreements that these workers realized that they had been excluded from offers made to other locations. Pay and benefits were affected for these dues-paying members of the UAW.
THE STORY OF ACH WORKERS
This is an explanation of the treatment of the “temporary” workers who have been so instrumental in the success and profitability of Ford Motor Co. It appears from the representation that the International UAW has offered these workers,that the duty of the officials involved was to act as the employment and disciplinary arm of the company. At no time has there been an elected ACH representative, and not until the contract of September 2011 was there written word of their rights and representation. These members have been dues-paying union workers since 2007.
The transition agreement used to sell or close the ACH facilities gave the power to the new buyer to determine if this skilled workforce was necessary to ensure the success of their takeover of the business. The ACH worker would be released to their chosen location only if the worker was not necessary to the new buyer’s operation. In the end of the Saline transition these members were forced to abide by a contract that they had no right to vote, however newly hired nonunion temps did have the right to vote. They were also forced to agree to be an employee of a new company for which no work rules or contract had been written.
When International UAW rep Jody Dunn explained all this at a meeting he said “Either you want a job or not. If you don’t want to work for this company you will not be eligible for unemployment and won’t be called on for a Ford job.” ACH was being dissolved at this location Oct. 25,2012. Their decision was initially due in November 16th. There was no notice under the Warren Act which guarantees 60 day notice of closure of a company. A contract for this new employer, DAS, was not offered to the membership for vote until March of 2013. The vote was posted on Friday for a Monday vote. The members voted it down because of lack of information and the late notice. Union officials had this information in February, but didn’t think these dues paying union members needed the info.
Some members who felt no trust in the union,s promises or lack of knowledge about what would come out of signing with DAS, chose to remain ACH and be laid off. Contrary to the promise of “Preferential Hire” many Ford locations were hiring off the street and these laid off ACH workers were not called in line of their seniority. They are still awaiting to be called to a location which is hiring lesser seniority ACH workers at this time. In many instances these new hires off the street have more seniority then the ACH workers waiting to transition to their promised Ford position.
At the Milan location the offer was even worse than that. They were told by International reps that they were not included in any offer of Ford employment. If they did not agree to be employed be INERGY AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS, LLC. they would be terminated. And of course there was short time frame to decide. It was not until the other ACH locations were made different offers that this group of dues paying union members realized they had been left out.
Adjusted seniority dates, lost benefits, and nonexistent representation has been the penalty imposed on these members. In addition, the ACH members who accepted out of state work, just to get to Ford, had to cover all moving and relocation expenses on their own meager earnings. This is not representation of dues paying union members and the International union should be ashamed of taking their dues. It is clear in every way that as these workers were a vital part of the Ford recovery at the expense of their wages and benefits. No one wants to see the union be destroyed. That is the only reason any of us make a decent wage and have benefits. We just want the union to live up to their own words of representing the membership, not the corporation .
For this reason, we feel that a class action law suit is necessary for the ACH workers. If you feel the same about how you have been represented, you should contact the LAWS group to join our growing list. We currently are hearing from workers at Milan, Saline, Sheldon Rd., Sterling Hgts., Rawsonville, Flat Rock, and Dearborn locations. To add your name or ask questions contact me (Pat Meyers) at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 269-998-4609.
THE LAWS GROUP