Jan 2, 2006
More and more union leaders today push to be in a partnership with the companies. Workers can see what this partnership looks like, in full bloom, in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Robert H. Cleland.
Cleland is hearing the case in which General Motors and the UAW (United Auto Workers) are jointly trying to break the healthcare contract with GM retirees.
Attorney Driker, representing GM: “If the retirees have had health benefits that are the equivalent of a fully loaded Cadillac, they now have a Cadillac without heated seats.”
Attorney Clark, representing the UAW: “A dead goose doesn’t lay any eggs.”
Judge Cleland, representing the power of the state: “Anyone in his right mind” can see concessions to GM are necessary.
And who was there to represent the actual retirees, the ones who wore out their bodies providing 30 years of superlative GM profits? The ones who got lower wages, for years, as part of a contract that would provide pensions and health care for the few years left them at the end of their life? Not represented!
None of the attorneys, nor the judge, nor GM executives, nor UAW leaders will have to deal in their own lives with the difficulties they are perfectly ready to inflict on retired workers.
Yet the judge dares to declare that anyone who bears the actual cuts, anyone who might object to being betrayed – is not “in his right mind!”
These personages believe they can snap their briefcases, bang their gavel, and dispose of workers whose labor sustained this society for 30 years and more.
Not so fast! The case was being heard in the court because, according to labor law, the union doesn’t have the right to represent retirees in negotiations. And the company doesn’t have the right to break the contract it made with them when they worked. So, the court was dragged in to make things “legal.” And this requires a certain “procedure” that workers can use. Retirees having objections can register written statements with Judge Cleland before February 13, and a hearing is scheduled in his court on March 6. What would happen if hundreds of retirees with hundreds of active workers backing them up show up? The more that show up, the more the fraudulent “partnership” between GM and UAW leaders can be busted up. And the judge might be forced to eat his words.