Local 292 Leadership, Sleeping At The Wheel
By Todd M. Jordan
Unfortunately democracy and difference of opinion seem to be foreign concepts to the leadership of local 292. They and some of their misinformed cronies would rather use precious space in the local newspapers attacking the members of their union than Miller and the GM-Delphi bosses; the real culprits for the crisis at Delphi. I have not to this day responded in the press to their attacks, but they still keep sending them into the papers and distributing them in the factory ignoring the equal amount of support letters that the local papers publish.
What these so called leaders fail to realize is that our union is only as strong as it is democratic. Instead of doing their job making themselves accountable to the membership they duck and dive sending in washed up ex-officials to do their dirty work when they themselves are not doing it. All in hopes to silence any voice from the average worker on the shop floor so that workers will not listen to them.
Only with shop floor democracy, the active participation and mobilization of the union membership can we defeat the company’s spurious plans to force us into low wage employment. The sacred word solidarity, a word our leaders use so easily, is a consequence of shop floor democracy, worker unity, organization and mobilization. Union democracy does not weaken our union but in fact makes us stronger, when the rights of all members to express their opinion are respected.
Without anonymous handbills, being called bottom feeders, having cronies publish half truths and lies in handbills around the plant, attacking the membership in the local newsletter or city papers we shall rise to victory. Democracy is power. Unfortunately, these sleeping beauties on Alto Road have done nothing to advance real solidarity among the workers at Delphi. It makes you wonder which side they are really on?
When a local newspaper recently asked the union leadership what was being done to fight the GM-Delphi slave wage proposals they responded that Delphi workers should “wait and see.” On more than one occasion the union leadership has stated that they are “waiting” for something, be it the meeting in bankruptcy court or most recently the arrival of the international UAW leadership. The only response that we workers get when we ask what is happening is that we have to “wait and see.” Meanwhile, to date, the eat and sleep leaders have taken little action beyond a few ineffective publicity stunts; and while they have been very vocal at criticizing the Delphi workers committee and Todd M. Jordan for trying to organize, mobilize and empower workers to fight to defend our jobs, they have not been active fighting the company’s plan to force us into poverty.
Instead of organizing workers on the shop floor and building resistance that would send a message to the Delphi bosses, the sleeping beauties on Alto Road have now said that they are once again “waiting” the arrival of the UAW international leadership to teach them how to organize a strike. This is just one more “wait and see” stall and if we accept this defeatist policy what we will see is the end of our wages and benefits. If the union leadership on Alto Road do not know how to organize a strike then maybe they should spend more time on the shop floor talking to the membership instead of management all day. There is no need to wait for the international, there are plenty of workers on the shop floor that know how to organize a strike. Rather than “waiting” for the international our leadership should be doing their jobs and get busy organizing actions in the plant before it is too late. Obviously our local leadership does not want part any of shop floor organizing because it demands a different type of union, a democratic union.
A democratic union is something the crowd on Alto Road know very little about. We’ve seen what they did to any and all opposition to their caucus last general election. The current leadership even went beyond spreading rumors and took the initiative to dig up official union documentation of 15 year old petitions against their members in the so called “democratic” general election. We should not expect anything less from them now.
The Delphi Workers’ Committee can’t be the only ones who see this. We refuse to accept that the rank-n-file are blind and easily manipulated by these career trade unionist politicians and their cronies. Since the first Delphi Worker newsletter came out in November we have had a 100 percent increase in membership participation in the committee. Collectively we have written Delphi Worker newsletters and even this very article from our own time and money in hopes to reach you the reader. With the help of brother Jordan and the steering committee we have started meeting outside the plant almost weekly. We are not only for our struggle for direct elections and real democracy in our own local, there has been many Chrysler workers coming to learn what they can do in their own locals.
The workers came out in droves to the October and November meeting for answers and to fight back. They were ready for mobilization, solidarity, and to take action to save their jobs. The only thing they received was lack of leadership from our local union leaders. This same failure was also found in the recent layoffs at Chrysler as nearly 700 workers were forced into the streets. When local 292 members arrived at their union meetings they were greeted not by leadership but by speakers telling them what they already know, speakers simply telling them to vote Democrat and support V-Cap.
This was a serious failure of leadership of epic proportions. To play it tough they wrapped themselves in vanity by having t-shirts made with their “tough guy” photo on the front. As if this was some sort of action to save our jobs. The membership walked away ashamed and the lack of members at the following meetings reflected this leadership’s failure to seize the opportunity to lead and take real action to save our jobs.
To make it worse they held publicity stunts they called a rally that offered the same rhetoric. Not a single plan of action came out of the rally but more, “wait and see” and to vote Democrats into public office to save us from big bad Delphi (the same company that gave thousands to the Democratic Party and Republican alike). More Vote Democratic Party propaganda with no action or plan to save our jobs is leading us on a downward spiral. So much for action and solidarity. I just hope this cry of wolf doesn’t cost us everything we have today.
We can’t afford to remain quiet any longer. This much is clear. Democracy and fighting to save our jobs is not dividing the union as our local careerists want you to believe. Look past their political motives, half-truths and their lies against the struggle for a real democratic union. Contact us so we can take back our local from these careerists. We can’t wait, we must fight for our jobs and our future today.
They insist on their “wait and see” policies as if we did not already know that workers hardly ever win in bankruptcy court. Bankruptcy courts are tools to defend the interest of the employers; as the workers in the steel industry know very well from first hand experience. Local 292 leadership must wake up before it is too late. Right now they are sleeping behind the wheel going through the motions with our very livelihoods on the line.
The Delphi Workers’ Committee Propose
1. That the union leadership begin to organize a plant-wide strike committee with representatives elected from each department and every shift.
2. Call a general plant wide meeting to discuss the future of Delphi during worker hours.
3. Take immediate measures to reinforce the strike fund for our local membership.
4. Contact local financial institutions to discuss alternative and options in the event of a strike.
5. No more lawyers, Democrats and politicians who talk us to death at union meetings, but more real rank-n-file dialogue at union meetings.
These are but a few proposals of many available to the administration should they be ready to one day fight for our jobs.
—Future of the Union, January 18, 2006