Sep 27, 2010
On September 23, workers at a GM stamping plant in Indianapolis once again registered a resounding “NO” vote against concessions being pushed by GM, JD Norman, a prospective buyer of GM’s plant, and top UAW leaders.
Last May, workers had already voted not to let top UAW Regional officials negotiate concessions with GM. The Indianapolis Local 23 Bargaining Committee, led by Greg Clark, several times afterwards reiterated the workers’ stand. And in August, when Regional UAW leaders attempted to force a meeting and a vote, workers booed them right out of the room.
Not known for respecting workers’ wishes, the UAW top leadership threw its support behind the prospective new buyer, Justin Norman, when he announced he would not buy the plant without the concessions, and they encouraged workers to meet with him in the big Indianapolis stadium he rented to find out about his “offer.” Only 70 people – workers, spouses and children – showed up!
Still not ready to cede, the UAW International leadership came up with what they must have thought to be a foolproof plan: a mail ballot, one which Regional UAW officials would control. As everyone was well aware, a mail ballot leaves open the possibility for stuffing the ballot box and tampering with the workers’ vote.
Clark and other Local 23 leaders organized three shift meetings, which were flooded by workers outraged at this latest trick. From those meetings, the word went out: bring your mail ballots to the Local on Thursday, September 23. Everyone who wants to vote “NO” and make sure their “NO” is counted can be videotaped showing their open ballot with its “NO” just before they drop it in the letter carrier’s collection box. As people flooded the hall, all those who had a “NO” vote were handed a silver button, with numbers penned in on them with magic marker – running from #1 all the way up to the last “NO” vote, #418. Even if every other worker in the plant had voted “Yes” from this plant that has about 625 UAW workers, the “NO” vote carried the day by a 2 to 1 margin. And not everyone else voted “Yes” – some sent in their “NO” vote before they got the news about the videotaping. Many others didn’t vote.
When Clark announced the results, Regional UAW officials refused to comment, saying only that votes wouldn’t be counted until Monday. Didn’t matter – the workers had already counted theirs, and their “NO” was triumphant.
Whatever scummy trick comes next, Indianapolis workers have shown they won’t have their decisions denied by a bunch of scheming bureaucrats.