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Posts Tagged ‘Ron Gettlefinger’

Bob King Elected UAW President

Show down at Ford Motor Coming?

by on Jun.16, 2010

Bob King, incoming UAW president, inherits a union that is less than a quarter of its size three decades ago.

A tired looking Bob King was overwhelmingly elected to succeed Ron Gettlefinger as president of the troubled union.

Gettlefinger retired after two terms, which saw the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler and an unprecedented  downsizing of union jobs.

King prevailed in a roll call vote against challenger Gary Walkowicz, 61, a Local 600 bargaining committee member at Ford Motor Co.’s Dearborn Truck Plant.

The 63-year-old King, has been a UAW vice president since 1998 and headed the UAW’s National Ford Department since 2006. He played a major role in both the UAW Ford 2007 National Agreement and the 2009 modifications to the agreement, which is now a source of contention among members.

Delegates also elected by acclamation UAW Region 4 Director Dennis Williams to the post of secretary-treasurer, the union’s number two post.  He succeeds retiring UAW Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Bunn.

Williams was elected director of UAW Region 4 at a special convention in 2001 and re-elected in 2002 and 2006 at the UAW Constitutional Conventions in Las Vegas. Region 4 includes Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Convention delegates re-elected by acclamation incumbent UAW vice presidents James Settles Jr., and General Holiefield, as well as new vice presidents Joe Ashton and Cindy Estrada. Ashton is director of UAW Region 9, which covers western and central New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Estrada is director of the union*s National Organizing Department. She becomes the union*s first Latina vice president.

Also by acclamation delegates elected UAW 863 President Phyllis Blust to serve a six-year term as an International trustee. She fills the position vacated by Tito Sanchez.

New UAW Leaders Facing Loss of Clout

“We’ve had our share of disappointments.”

by on Jun.14, 2010

“We’ve had our share of disappointments," acknowledged UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, as union leaders prepared to elect his successor.

The United Auto Workers Union will select new leaders this week as it holds its 35th Constitutional Convention in Detroit as it struggles with a sharp decline  in membership, a battered public image and fading clout at the bargaining table.

“It’s a union that has a glorious history,” said Mike Smith, chief archivist at the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University said Monday.  But one whose future is anything but certain.

What is clear is that the new leadership team will be trying to halt the steady erosion of both the union’s clout and the gains made its membership since the UAW was born out of the sit-down strikes that helped organize General Motors more than 70 years ago.

Ron Gettelfinger, the union’s outgoing president,  has faced some of the most serious challenges to confront the union since those early days.

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“We’ve had our share of disappointments and setbacks,” said Gettelfinger, but, he quickly added, “we have also had major victories. Workers at Tenneco have been on strike for over five years and we have three additional strikes under way. We saw the impact of downsizing and the pain associated with the Peterbilt, NUMMI and other closings,” Gettelfinger said.


UAW in a Box It Never Envisioned

The auto union is devastated by Detroit’s misfortunes.

by on Oct.12, 2009


The UAW has been equally devastated by Detroit’s misfortunes, but in ways that most elitist "opinionators" don’t understand.

Once upon a time half a century ago, covering the Labor Beat was a big deal, both nationally and in Detroit, home of both the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters unions, with their respective leaders, Walter Reuther and Jimmy Hoffa, in the news practically every day. Major media, and TV did not count in those days, had dedicated slots for “labor writers” or “labor editors.” I was one of them, as part of my duties covering the auto industry.

At the time, the UAW was more than just autoworkers. Its reach included farm equipment workers and the aircraft industry (dating from World War II).They were the intellectual leaders of America’s union movement. Moreover, in truth, Reuther’s UAW invented many of the benefits that the middle class now counts as its birthright.

After Reuther was killed in a plane crash in Northern Michigan and his team of old-line incorruptible Socialists began to age out, the Union lost its fervor. Gone in my opinion was its vision and its mission — due to circumstances beyond its control, namely Detroit’s declining share of the U.S. auto market and the transplants that the UAW could not organize.

Some union members and local leaders went un-chastised by Solidarity House (UAW Headquarters in Detroit) when they got involved in disability scams with crooked lawyers. The UAW vigorously defended a Michigan metal stamping plant employee caught urinating on a stack of newly pressed steel panels. Likewise, a bunch of UAW workers left an Ohio auto plant for a bar across the street, where they got into a big enough fight for the cops to be called in. On investigation, it turned out they were all checked in at the plant, supposedly earning their nice hourly wages and benefits, and once again, the union supported them.

A telltale book, 1991’s Rivethead: Tales From the Assembly Line, about workers in Flint auto plants being drugged out or drunk on the job, deliberately sabotaging their products, was brushed off by UAW officials.

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The UAW did become more concerned about the issue in recent years, especially in terms of drug and alcohol issues, though as likely as not, when there were arrests for in-plant dealing, it was the union that would call for treatment instead of dismissal.

Meanwhile, this situation crossed both sides of the border, before and after what was the truly international UAW lost half of its operations to the newly formed Canadian Auto Workers, two decades ago.