By on May 1, 2019

Volkswagen’s singular U.S. plant has toyed with the idea of unionizing for the past five years. Chattanooga Operations, in Tennessee, initially seemed fine with the establishment of a German-style works council. However, while the United Auto Workers’ first attempt to seal the deal with votes failed in 2014, the union has since managed to rally more staff under its banner.

The UAW is now calling for another vote (its fifth), claiming a majority of the facility’s hourly workers are on its side. Meanwhile, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee spent the first part of this week pleading with plant staff not to unionize. (Read More…)

By on April 2, 2019

General Motors Renaissance Center

General Motors’ legal team has requested that the lawsuit filed by the United Automobile Workers, which claims that its decision to idle factories is in violation of an existing union agreement, be dismissed by a federal judge. The UAW alleges that GM sidestepped the collective bargaining agreement established in 2015 by closing plants prematurely. But the automaker has been careful to say that the facilities are being “unallocated,” claiming the union failed to adhere to the grievance arbitration procedure outlined in its contract — which forbids UAW from going to court until all other avenues have been exhausted.

The request came with a bundle of other motions, filed on March 21st, and included a request to transfer the case from Youngstown, Ohio (where the contentious Lordstown Assembly is located) to the eastern district of Michigan.  (Read More…)

By on March 21, 2019

2018 Ford F150 assembly line -Image: Ford

Opioid addiction is on the rise in America and the United Auto Workers wants to confront the problem in its next round of collective bargaining. While the issue is most visible in parts of the Western United States, large pockets of the Midwest, South, and Northeast have cited an influx of drug overdoses since 2002.

The UAW, knowing that prescription medications are being increasingly abused by factory workers (as heroin simultaneously makes a comeback), wants to nip the issue in the bud. In addition to promoting job security, higher wages, and healthcare, union officials have identified combating opioids as an important element of future contract negotiations.  (Read More…)

By on March 19, 2019

Norwood Jewell, the former head of the United Auto Workers’ unit attached to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, has been charged by federal prosecutors in Detroit with violating the Labor Management Relations Act. This makes him the highest ranking UAW member to be charged in the union corruption case that appeared to be on pause while investigators reexamined suspects, following a string of convictions in 2018.

Federal investigators are relatively certain that FCA engaged in the widespread bribery of union officials who were able to tap into funds allocated for their National Training Center — a scheme dating back to 2009. According to defamed former FCA vice president Alphons Iacobelli, the goal was to keep union officials “fat, dumb and happy.” Millions of dollars were believed to have been used to buy the UAW’s cooperation, and Jewell appears to have gotten a slice.  (Read More…)

By on March 18, 2019

President Donald Trump weighed in on General Motors again this week. This time, the issue at hand was the fate of Lordstown Assembly — which was shuttered earlier this month as part of the automaker’s ongoing restructuring program.

“Just spoke to Mary Barra, CEO of General Motors about the Lordstown Ohio plant,” Trump tweeted on Sunday. “I am not happy that it is closed when everything else in our Country is BOOMING. I asked her to sell it or do something quickly. She blamed the UAW Union — I don’t care, I just want it open!”

Barra’s take on just how much the United Automobile Workers are to blame is questionable, but the president’s position is not.  (Read More…)

By on January 13, 2019

Jerry Dias, Unifor President, Image: OFL Communications Department (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Things are starting to get truly ugly between Canada’s Unifor and General Motors. On Friday, the union held a rally in Windsor, Ontario, with that automaker’s headquarters just a river away. During the event, Unifor President Jerry Dias expressed his annoyance with the automaker’s restructuring plan and promised to bring the noise to GM’s front door during the North American International Auto Show this week.

Friday’s gathering, which Unifor and the Windsor and District Labour Council claimed drew around 2,000 people despite its brevity, focused primarily on the company’s decision to shift more of its North American production to Mexico and the shuttering of Oshawa Assembly and the end of this year. Dias said he wants the union to work with the automaker to keep Canadian jobs and avoid a potential boycott. Though that might be just around the corner, as the UAW has already issued a boycott of its own within the United States. (Read More…)

By on January 6, 2019

General Motors HQ

Last week a lawsuit was filed with the U.S. District Court in Youngstown claiming that General Motors is in violation of a “memorandum of understanding” with the United Automobile Workers by allowing temporary employees to support the launch of some new product from Fort Wayne Assembly Plant. The facility, which is responsible for manufacturing the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, is alleged to have brought on temporary workers from May to August of 2018 instead of using its laid-off full-time workers. The UAW claims this is decision represents a breach of contract.

The union says there are nearly 700 workers laid off from the “nearby” Lordstown, Ohio Assembly Plant — many of whom have applied to transfer to the Fort Wayne as is their right under the current contract with GM. (Read More…)

By on July 26, 2018

Remember the multi-million dollar corruption scandal involving UAW officials? Apparently, it was even more corrupt than previously reported. While the UAW-Chrysler National Training Center is suing both Fiat Chrysler and the union members involved, recent developments point to the money scheme being greenlit by former UAW President Dennis Williams.

As part of a plea agreement filed this week, ex-labor official Nancy Adams Johnson told investigators that Williams specifically directed union members to use funds from Detroit’s automakers, funneled through training centers, to pay for union travel, meals, entertainment, and more. If true, the accusation not only implicates the UAW of corruption at the highest level but also the potential involvement of staff from both Ford and General Motors — something the FBI is already looking into.

I believe the official industry term for something like this is a “shit show.”  (Read More…)

By on March 19, 2018

tesla factory fremont, Image: Tesla Motors

The United Automobile Workers have had its eyes on Tesla Motors for years. However, it wasn’t until the start of 2017 when unionization efforts at the automaker’s Fremont, California factory really started ramping up. Following complaints that the automaker failed to ensure effective safety measures, Tesla employee Jose Moran published a blog post that openly criticized the company for overworking its staff in unsafe conditions. Moran also said payment was insufficient and promotions were unfair — suggesting unionization was the only way to protect employees.

Soon afterwards, the UAW began filing a slew of complaints to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) while Tesla was confronted with racial discrimination lawsuits. Widespread reports of worksite injuries also surfaced. The California Department of Industrial Relations saw over 180 Tesla employees applying for compensation as a result of serious injuries between 2012 and 2017. Now, the UAW is accusing the automaker of intimidating pro-union employees and terminating those it could not sway.  (Read More…)

By on January 23, 2018

Uaw-Logos

Former Fiat Chrysler labor relations chief Alphons Iacobelli pleaded guilty to two of seven charges relating to his role in a plan to divert more than $4.5 million in training center funds to union and company officials on Monday. As part of a plea deal with federal authorities, Iacobelli provided information regarding confidential retirement offers and a former union vice president being groomed to support company initiatives.

In an admission that he and other FCA employees paid various senior UAW officials over $1.5 million in an effort to “obtain benefits, concessions, and advantages for FCA in the negotiation, implementation, and administration,” Iacobelli is now helping map the deepening mire that is the FCA-UAW training center scandal. (Read More…)

By on January 4, 2018

Uaw-Logos

The United Auto Workers’ executive board has selected Terry Dittes, current regional director on the East Coast, to become the union’s newest vice president. Dittes is tasked with overseeing the UAW’s Fiat Chrysler department, which is currently involved in an ugly federal corruption probe involving millions of dollars from a joint training center allegedly embezzled by both union and company officials.

Replacing Norwood Jewell, whose retirement became effective upon the close of 2017, Dittes is stepping in roughy six months before his first four-year term was supposed to end. While Jewell has not been formally charged with corruption, his supervisory role during the FCA-UAW scandal likely forced the early retirement.  (Read More…)

By on December 15, 2017

General Motors HQ

General Motors has decided to cut ties with Alphons Iacobelli, the former Fiat Chrysler Automobiles labor relations chief accused of embezzling funds earmarked for worker training. That money is believed to have gone into extensive home renovations, the installation of a pool, personal credit card expenses, the leasing of a private jet, a $350,000 Ferrari 458 Spider, and two Mont Blanc pens worth $37,500 each.

While GM suspended Iacobelli in July (after federal officials charged him for his alleged role in a multi-million dollar criminal conspiracy during his time at FCA), it only recently confirmed his departure from the company.  (Read More…)

By on November 6, 2017

marchionne, Image: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Apparently, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles CEO Sergio Marchionne had an extended chat with authorities at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in downtown Detroit one year before the $4.5 million corruption scandal involving the automaker’s training center was made public.

Marchionne and his lawyer participated in a private meeting in July 2016, discussing the alleged corruption between FCA executives and high-ranking members of the UAW with investigators. One year later, former Fiat Chrysler Vice President Alphons Iacobelli was indicted and accused of funneling kickbacks to UAW officials. (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2017

Nissan titan assembly Canton Factory

The South has been a longstanding hurdle for the United Auto Workers. Having been unsuccessful in its efforts to organize foreign-owned automakers outside its Midwestern stronghold for years, the UAW is running out of options. Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and Tesla have all managed to stave off unionization and many wondered what the UAW would do after its most recent loss at a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi.

It decided to double down.

Despite losing the vote by a fairly crushing margin, the UAW has sought intervention through the National Labor Relations Board by formally accusing Nissan of playing dirty. But how the legal proceedings will play out is a matter of some controversy, and the group’s strategy is somewhat muddled.  (Read More…)

By on September 8, 2017

Ford badge emblem logo

Prior to outlining Ford Motor Company’s new strategy to financial analysts and corporate investors, CEO Jim Hackett wants to check-in with leadership from the United Automobile Workers. Hackett has been undertaking a summer-long assessment of the company’s current status and action points — established during Mark Fields’ executive tenure — with a mind to reevaluate the status quo.

However, before he announces his new vision for the company to Wall Street, Hackett is giving the UAW a peek. Jimmy Settles, the head of the union’s Ford department, called the move an important signal that the current boss is interested in putting workers first and starting things off on the right foot.  (Read More…)

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