By on January 7, 2008

cone-of-silence.jpgThe Detroit Free Press reports that U.S. District Court Judge Robert H. Cleland has granted the United Auto Workers (UAW) and GM a gag order preventing either side from revealing the details of their $29.9b VEBA health care superfund. Cleland deemed the cone of silence necessary to protect financial, proprietary and personal information (?). To that end, he forbade the release of "documents containing information that would cause named plaintiffs, prospective class members, the UAW, GM or any other present or current employees of the UAW or GM 'annoyance, embarrassment or oppression.'" Well guess what? The UAW rank and file rightly consider the gag order a major "annoyance," as it prevents them from knowing how far up the river they've been sold. "These workers have paid for that plan over the years with forfeiture of pay, and cost of living and many other concessions that were made over the years," Jerry Tucker, a former UAW International executive board member, kvetched. "They are entitled to know everything about the plan." Given the union movement's long and ignoble history of fraud, corruption, theft, mismanagement, extortion, bribery and violence, he may have a point. This is the second time Judge Cleland has agreed to keep union members in the dark about "their" VEBA; he issued a similar order for the UAW-Chrysler filing on November 15. Ford's VEBA-related judicial filing hasn't yet gone dark, but it's only a matter of time. For shame.

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10 Comments on “GM’s $29.9b UAW VEBA Shrouded in Secrecy...”


  • avatar
    jpc0067

    Beautiful photo, just awesome, RF. Does anyone else think Steve Carell was born to reprise the role of Maxwell Smart? Could be brilliant, could really suck (a la Steve Martin as Inspector Closeau).

    And methinks this will be in litigation until the affected UAW workers are dust.

  • avatar
    starlightmica

    FTA: “UAW President Ron Gettelfinger describes the VEBA as a solid plan to provide benefits and has said the VEBA will last for 80 years. Several experts say the scant public information gives little confidence that Gettelfinger’s claim is sound, the Free Press reported last week.”

    As long as he’s dead by the time the VEBA crashes & burns, that’s fine.

  • avatar
    guyincognito

    “documents containing information that would cause named plaintiffs, prospective class members, the UAW, GM or any other present or current employees of the UAW or GM ‘annoyance, embarrassment or oppression.\'”

    Also, Gettelfinger added, ‘what VEBA?’

  • avatar
    mikey

    In earlier times contract ratification consisted of,we won this and this and got some more of that.Vote yes its the best we’re gonna get.98% voted yes.More vacation,more money,your kids got braces etc.Simple stuff huh?
    Now in 2007 you got plant closings,market share plunging,sky high medical costs.You got headlines that read GM and bankrupt in the same sentence.That and you got competition from every continent.
    Things suddenly become more complex.
    Ratification goes like,Ok brothers and sisters your all keeping your jobs,now is everybody clear on that,we got product commitment.After intense bargaining,your union got GM to agree to keep the plant open untill 2011.Now lets give a big round of applause to your bargaining commitee.{The hang arounds,and wannabees lead the cheering}
    OK folks we also got huge buyouts for the senior workers{more applause}
    Now we’re gonna vote on this, and we your union fully endorse it.If you got any questions step up to the microphones
    we have provided.
    Now the people lined up at the mikes will all have thier chance [the first 4 guys at the mikes are more of the hand picked wannabbes and hang arounds]
    Sooner or later one of the non handpicked brothers or sisters steps up.Question goes brother we are a little concerned about this provision which we can’t fully understand.
    Sorry about the feedback on the sound system there sister,must of been made in Japan.[A huge laugh here led by the top wannabee]
    OK folks there is lot of small details that we gotta work out.Your bargaining commitee will work tirelessly to cross the Ts and dot the I’s
    But we need your yes vote,your shop floor people will fill you in on the details later.
    Just remember to tell your family,the plant will stay open.if you voted yes.

  • avatar

    I love the Cone of Silence graphic, Chief!

    -Maxwell Smart

  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    Wow, I figured it would take a while for the truth to come out about all that cash, but I had no idea they would use the courts to keep it secret. These guys are really good at this. Too bad they ain’t that good at making cars.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Unions are little socialist micro governments. Almost marxist in nature. The law of supply and demand, indeed the law of the jungle, is lost on the “members” who are led by semi-elected overlords, and replaced by a warm soft blanket of care giving.

    It’s their VEBA and if they get ripped off by the Union it’s their problem. They can take it up with the justice department. GM did what every major company is doing and that is letting themselves (and stockholders) off the hook for endless benefits for people who no longer make them any profit.

    We’re told how there is a responsibility towards retirees, well maybe the retirees had a personal responsibility to save for their future, protect their health, and plan their own golden years. Kinda like the rest of us.

  • avatar
    Ralph SS

    He who has the money…

  • avatar
    mykeliam

    How about this…. The Democratatic President, Hilary Clinton, has just signed into law a historic piece of legislation. The new Universal Health Care Bill is now law. “UUhhhh Hey Ron, what do we do with all of this cash we got from the auto makers???”

  • avatar
    1996MEdition

    mikey,
    The practice of union bosses looking out for themselves is a live and well:

    http://futureoftheunion.com/?p=6422

    I am not union, by any means, but I do think that the leadership is more interested in filling their pockets than protecting the rank and file. I guess the top leadership is setting the example for the shop chairpersons.

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