In Indianapolis, one UAW local membership's collective decision to "take this job and shove it," rather than to take less wages, has fueled some criticism over UAW's international's involvement in secret negotiations before finally throwing up their hands.
UAW leaders were chased out of UAW local 23's membership meeting on Sunday as members refused to have a vote to re-open their contract in order to save their jobs. From the World Socialist Web Site:
As soon as three UAW International representatives took the podium, they were met with boos and shouts of opposition from many of the 631 workers currently employed at the plant. The officials, attempting to speak at the only informational meeting on the proposed contract changes, were forced out within minutes of taking the floor.
Workers at Local 23 voted 384-22 in May to reject reopening a previous contract, which had guaranteed that wages would remain intact in the event of a sale. GM first announced its intention to sell the plant in 2007, threatening to close it if it did not find a buyer.
Despite overwhelming opposition by the rank-and-file, UAW executives secretly continued negotiations with JD Norman, which they outlined in a document sent to workers last week.
“Within five minutes of its start, a loud chorus of autoworkers shouted ‘no,’” reported the Indianapolis Star. “They could be easily heard on the sidewalk outside the union hall. Three UAW officials soon rushed out of the union hall and departed in a Chevrolet Suburban with Michigan license plates.”
UAW Region 3 Director Maurice Davison, clearly shaken up by the event and expressing the general contempt of officials for the membership, told the Indiana Star Press that the incident was a “mob scene.”
As the three UAW officials were leaving the building, workers shouted out, “Take Kennedy with you!” referring to Local 23 president Ray Kennedy, who has supported the plan to reopen the contract.
“No means no and that’s it. We said no. We said no again. We don’t want a contract. Close it,” auto worker Todd New told WTHR, a local television station. “They get their regular pay,” he said, referring to the union officials, “Why do they want to cut ours?”
“No matter how many jobs we will have at this facility, they will be poverty level and many families will have to take advantage of government programs,” added auto worker Carly Burkhart Kirchner.
Auto worker Nick Ellis told local news station WISHTV, “You just can’t live on $15.50 an hour.”
Unlike the UAW membership meeting in California this past January, when UAW members were told to "Shut the f**k up" by their local leaders, the shoe seemed to be on the other foot for the UAW leaders in Indianapolis.
Unfortunately, it is almost guaranteed that their refusal to re-open their contract will lead to their unemployme, as General Motors will be announcing the closure of the plant as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.
[Photo credit: Bradleygee]