The Union Times
Pictured: GM Romulus Employee Marilyn Turnage
Photo by Terence JOnes)
Masks Are Off!
Ralph Morris Jr.
Greetings Brothers and Sisters,
Tuesday, June 22nd marked the end of most of Michigan’s remaining COVID restrictions. On June 17th, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced that the face mask orders and gathering restrictions would be rescinded on June 22nd, at 12:01am. Covid case rates have dropped by very large percentages since the Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization of the Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines to prevent COVID-19. Therefore, the MDHHS concluded that certain protective measures and requirements could be lifted. The plants in our Local have followed suit. Detroit Diesel lifted the mask requirement in the plant on June 22nd, Oakwood lifted their mask requirement on June 28th and GM lifted theirs on Monday, July 12th. Members still have the option to wear the mask, but, it is not required. The lifting of restrictions has been a long time coming and is a huge step forward for all of us.
Our International Union notified all Local Unions that on June 29th, Locals can reconvene Union meetings and events. We plan on holding our 1st in person General Membership meeting on Sunday, July 18th. Retiree Meetings will begin back on their regularly scheduled date and time in August. Check the events page on our Local 163 website, www.uawlocal163.org, to find all meeting dates and times.
Our former Region 1A Director and International President, Rory Gamble, announced that he was retiring on June 30th. The Vice President of the Ford Department, Gerald Kariem, also, announced that he would be retiring on June 30th. This created a chain of openings within the top leadership of our Union. The UAW Secretary-Treasurer, Ray Curry, was elected unanimously by our International Executive Board to fulfill the remaining term as our International President. Our Region 1A Director, Chuck Browning, was elected unanimously as Vice President of the Ford Department and Region 1 Director, Frank Stuglin, was elected unanimously to fulfill the remaining term as International Secretary-Treasurer. The election of our next Regional Director will take place in the near future. The delegates from our last Constitutional Convention will be called to attend and elect our next Regional Director to fulfill the remaining term. Until this election is held, Assistant Director Laura Dickerson will fulfill these duties.
Rory served as our Regional Director for 3 terms and fulfilled a partial term as International President. Rory took over as President during a dire period in our Union’s history. He was able to stave off a complete take over from the Justice Department. I have been fortunate to work with both Ray and Chuck. Both men have incredible work ethics, are well respected and extremely intelligent. Our membership will be well served having them in these new leadership roles.
UAW Local 2502 membership voted unanimously to merge with our Local Union on Sunday, June 27th. Vice President Al Byrd, Financial Secretary Denise Wood and myself attended this meeting to answer any questions they had about merging with our Local and to provide details about Local 163. They are a newly chartered unit that our Local assisted in organizing back in 2018. This new addition to our UAW family is from Eberspaecher. Over the past 3 years, they have come to realize the difficulties of running a brand new Local with such a small membership. They have around 200 members at their plant in Brighton. Eberspaecher is an Independent Part Supplier plant that produces parts for the Heavy Truck market and Automotive sector. Merging with our Local is a pretty natural fit for Eberspaecher, because one of the major components that they produce are Exhaust Particulate Filters that are used in our Freightliner Trucks. The filters equate to around half of their production at the plant. The other half of the parts that they produce go into Ford vehicles. To complete this merger, our membership will need to accept them into our Local, which will be on the agenda at our next General Membership meeting. Then, the International Executive Board will have to approve the merger.
In conclusion, I would like to once again welcome all of the new members into Local 163. Detroit Diesel and Detroit Axles has done quite a bit of hiring over the last few months. We are happy to have you join. I also want to wish all of the 66 members that took the HIP at Detroit Diesel a Happy Retirement. Our Local’s former Vice President and Financial Secretary, Alfreada Wallace, was one of the members that took the HIP offer. I want to wish her a very Happy Retirement and Thank her for the many years of friendship. This will not be the last time that we see her. Alfreada loves her Local Union and intends to stay very active within the Retired Members Chapter.
Local 163 President, Ralph Morris Jr.
(Pictured): UAW Local 163 President Ralph Morris Jr. and Vice President Al Byrd meet with UAW Local 2502 to discuss merging with UAW Local 163. (Photo by Denise Wood)
UAW Local 163 President Ralph Morris Jr. pictured with Larry Mcdonnell, President/Chairman of UAW Local 2502.
Table of Contents:
President's Report - pg. 2
Vice President's Report - pg.4
Financial Secretary - pg. 5
Committee Reports - pg. 6
Local Interests - pg. 10
In Memoriam - pg. 15
Politically Speaking - pg. 17
Labor Daze - pg. 20
Ralph Morris Jr.
UAW Local 163 President
UAW Local 163 Vice-President
In November of 2018, the excellent team of organizers from UAW Local 163 successfully convinced the membership at Eberspacher Manufacturing in Brighton, MI to overwhelmingly elect the UAW as their bargaining agent to negotiate a contract with the corporation. Our months-long effort to organize this plant, and the historic vote, were first reported in the Winter 2018 edition of “The Union Times.” Soon after we achieved this recognition, the International UAW chartered UAW Local 2502, as a new Local within UAW Region 1A, with an eye toward organizing more manufacturing facilities in the Kensington Valley-area, and expanding the membership of Local 2502. Unfortunately, due mainly to the difficulties surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, this plan to grow Local 2502’s membership has stalled, and has only the 300+ members at Eberspacher as their sole membership roll.
But, when one door closes, another exciting door opens! After President Ralph Morris, Jr., myself, and Financial Secretary Denise Wood were informed about the stagnant membership at Local 2502, we went to them with a proposal. At their General Membership meeting, we proposed that they disband the charter for Local 2502, and join us in our amalgamated Local here at UAW Local 163, and they unanimously agreed to our proposal! This proposal must still be voted on by our membership at Local 163’s first in-person General Membership meeting since the onset of the pandemic on July 18th, 2021, but it seems like a no-brainer to add 300 more members to our growing Local. If all goes as planned, we will be sending skilled contract negotiators, to assist the bargainers elected by the Eberspacher membership, with their negotiations on a new master agreement. As this is the first major win, and first major addition to our membership since adding Detroit Axle years ago, we heartily congratulate our tireless organizers for bringing them into the UAW family.
Since the pandemic seems to be waning, and our membership is returning to something more resembling “normal”, our organizing team hopes to hit the trail soon to expand our membership. If any member knows of a facility that is in dire need of improving the livelihood of their employees, please have them contact us at UAW Local 163, and we’ll help them chart their path to prosperity.
OMF Member Kamrul Choudhury
Hello Brothers and Sisters. I hope everyone is doing well. This past June, we have lost a member in OMF assembly due to Covid. Kam fought hard to beat this virus, but unfortunately he lost that battle. Kam is going to be missed by many. Let's all keep his family in our thoughts and prayers. Oakwood recently lifted all Covid restrictions, but still keep in mind that the virus is still out there and is dangerous. Please do your part to keep our work place safe. The UAW election committee posted on our Union board, open positions within the plant. The UAW web page can be found within the Oakwood page on Facebook containing UAW merchandise. During the summer months with it being so hot in the plant, the company is supplying ice and water. We have a big ice freezer located by the employee entrance for the coolers. Everyone please keep hydrated! It's hot in the plant! If you have any safety concerns, don't hesitate to let your union/safety reps know and any issues can be addressed and have your concerns corrected. Thank You and in Solidarity. We are all one Union, We are Local 163!
Hello Local 163
We are finally getting back to normal, and it feels so good. General membership meetings and retiree meetings are coming back, and we will have more activities at the hall. It has been quiet for far too long. We look forward to seeing everyone’s faces again. (Smiling faces that is!!!)
On the financial side, we are doing pretty good. We haven’t had the huge layoffs other locals are struggling with. We have had some fun, and thank goodness we haven’t been hit hard. With Covid causing everything to shut down, we haven’t been able to conference in person. With that being said, our expenditures have been very low. We have reached the one million dollar mark in the bank which was one of our goals. We are very pleased with our financial situation going forward, and also happy that we are getting new members.
I would like to welcome all the new members that have joined our local over the past few months. If you have not received your membership card, please notify your committee person, and I will be happy to make one for you. Also, please join us for our general membership meetings, where you’ll have the opportunity to inquire about possibly becoming an active member of one of our standing committees.
I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the summer with your families and loved ones. I plan to get out there and enjoy some golfing, if it stops raining, and also take a few trips up north, hitting a casino or two on the way. Before you know it, Labor Day will be here, and the summer will be winding down, so get out there and enjoy it.
Donna Weir , Tina Robinette
Greetings Brothers and Sisters:
After the recent decision made by the Covid Joint Task Force to ease the mask restrictions for fully vaccinated workers, I am personally happy to see us getting back to some form of normalcy. People are happy to see the easing of the mask mandate, whether it be relief from the humid weather we have been experiencing lately or allowing one to just flat out breathe easier and no longer having to deal with foggy glasses etc.. It’s nice to greet your fellow Brothers and Sisters with a smile and hopefully get one in return. The pandemic we have been dealing with for the past year and a half, by no means is over. The vaccines available have given us a chance to get back to somewhat of a normal life. I personally have been fully vaccinated, but I do believe and support the people that make their own choice on whether they get vaccinated or not. People can still continue to wear a mask even though they are vaccinated. With all of the losses we have had during this pandemic, it is my hope that with these lessened restrictions of the Covid protocol, we can stop debating others on their choices. and can focus more on the things that make life worth living. like everyone's smiles.
Stay safe, continue to take care of one another and enjoy your summer!
Greetings Sisters and Brothers of UAW Local 163,
As we continue to press forward through these trying times, I pray that every member and their families are doing well. We will continue to help those in need and never forget those whom we've lost.
We are continuing to bid on work that our skilled trades workforce is capable of doing here at Romulus Engine, both paragraph 183 and Doc 159. With that being said, I would like to thank all of the Skilled Trades for helping us succeed. We must continue to push for improvement with all of our future projects.
I’m excited to see our Electrical Apprentices beginning to flow into the mix as journeypersons, they will enhance our workforce. Congrats to all of the Apprentices that are near the end of their programs. Welcome to the other side Everyone!
To all the members who’ll be transferring to other GM plants and the upcoming retiring members, I would like to extend my gratitude and best wishes to you all. Romulus is looking to hire more Mechanical trades, that will replace those that are transferring out or retiring.
Have a great and safe summer!
Until the next time, thank you for allowing me to serve!
Skilled Trades Committee Report
Fisher Body Building,
I hope all of my UAW Brothers and Sisters are having a fantastic summer so far and that it’s being filling with healthy food, memory’s with loved ones and positivity..!
I know me, as well as everyone else, is sick of hearing about these masks…., But it definitely feels like we are on the final stretch back to a normal mask-free life. I personally can’t wait to see people's faces without a mask. There’s a connection that takes place that you can’t get while interacting with masks on. This Covid has really taken us for a ride! I pray for all of the families who have lost loved ones around the world. It deeply saddens me that something like this could just flood us and take so many lives overnight. On a different note, we need to send our support out to our Volvo Truck folks Local 2069 in Dublin, Va. They have been out on strike for four weeks now and have already turned down three tentative agreements! If anyone can relate to their struggles in the fight for a better contract, it's US..! I think that we're in a world now where it's too easy for people to get distracted and be divided in so many ways. People forget sometimes how strong we can be when we unite as one towards a common goal. We, the people, in solidarity are unstoppable and will always prevail.! It has been shown time and time again..! I have been living in downtown Detroit for the past six months and it is really exciting to me. I love watching it get built back up and boom with life, converting back to its former glory.! New buildings are being erected every day and the energy there is like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Everyone is so happy and it's a really cool time, like I’m watching a new revolution take place right before my eyes. In the city where the UAW was created there is so much history here to discover. Sometimes I go and explore the old broken down auto plants. I'll just stand right in the middle of the building, imagining what has really taken place within those walls, recognizing the hardships that the people have successfully overcome, and how grateful I am for these people that came before me and have literally died to improve our working conditions. It really inspires me and shows that just like before, we can do anything and even build up an entire city if we collectively want too! I hope everyone stays safe this summer, goes on adventures and gets the most out of life!
Fisher Body Building, Detroit, Michigan (Circa 1908)
J. "J-Rod" Rodriques
We are planning to do a quick meet and greet , with details to follow so we can get some ideas for a Fundraiser, that will help veterans and their families that are in need. We are still on hold and are waiting on a benefit Rep from the American Legion office to come to our local and help explain how to file a claim with the V.A. They will also help with burial benefits and loans that are offered, that will help purchase a home. I have 6 months left to achieve my goal of helping all Local 163 veterans and their family members get their veteran ID card, in order to have access to any military base in the United States.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH, We all enjoy it! Some people pay very little attention as of how important it is within elections. It is impossible to express our choices verbally in elections. Our voices and choices are written down on paper ballots. This is showing us that our constitutional freedom of speech is not being violated, well at least that’s how it's supposed to be. This is not true in the Republican's World. Their only objective is to suppress the votes when and wherever they possibly can.
The Republican's are doing all they can to suppress as many votes as they can. They have implemented some crazy (off the wall) rules within 48 states making it hard for voters, with the goal of trying to get them removed. Some of the Republican party supporters have threatened harm and have even went as far as death threats to Democratic office holders and their families. Threats have even been made to diligent reliable people, that have been working the polls for many years, due to them not wanting to get harmed, they have opted to quit the job. Republican supporters will do anything they can to sabotage votes for Democrat candidates.
If the Republican's continue to succeed with the suppression of American votes, the result will be our constitutional democracy being smashed to smithereens. The Republican greed mongers will be delivering this beautiful country of America to China and Russia. We must never give up on the fight to stop this! We must perservere through this and save the American way of life! I say to all Americans, vote Democrat! take care be well.
UAW Local 163 Women's Committee members providing water for individuals who just received a vaccination. at the UAW Local 163 Vaccination Clinic. (Photo Credit: Ryan Martin)
Women's Committee Report
Brothers and Sisters,
I think it’s safe to say that we are all pleased that restrictions have been lifted! I know we are all looking forward to life returning to as normal as possible. We are sad to announce that our annual Union picnic will not take place this year. We were still under restrictions when we needed to begin organizing for this big event. It takes months of planning and preparation. Our membership deserves the best and we are all very much looking forward to a great picnic next year!
The women’s committee hosted two vaccine events in May and June. This made the shot available to anyone who wanted it. Many of our members brought in family, friends and even their neighbors! We feel very fortunate to be able to offer our members and community another chance at getting vaccinated.
Please be safe and enjoy this warm weather season. We hope to see you soon!
Greetings Brothers and Sisters. I wanted to take this opportunity to recognize a woman I read about on June 27, 2015, named Bree Newsome. Before I get into details about her, I want to give a brief history about the Confederate flag. This flag was used to represent the 11 states that chose secession from the United States. These states were South Carolina (December 20, 1860), Mississippi (January 9, 1861), Florida (January 10, 1861), Alabama (January 11, 1861),Georgia(January 19, 1861), Louisiana (January 26, 1861),Texas(February 1, 1861),Virginia(April 17, 1861),Arkansas(May 6, 1861), North Carolina (May 20, 1861), and Tennessee(June 8, 1861).
Abraham Lincoln refused to recognize the southern states as an independent nation and the Civil War erupted in 1864. Slavery was concentrated mainly in the southern states in the mid-19th century. Slaves were used as farm laborers, artisans, and house servants. In the northern states, Industry largely drove the economy. The Confederate flag was the South's symbol in this battle to maintain slave labor. After 4 years, the Confederate armies surrendered to the United States in April of 1865. More than 620,000 men died in the Civil War. After the war, this flag became a symbol of racism to some and a symbol of southern pride to others. Oddly, the flag was still allowed to be displayed in the United States. Fast forward to 2015, when Bree Newsome scaled a 30-foot pole on the grounds of the State House in Columbia, South Carolina, to remove the Confederate flag. She was arrested, but all charges were later dropped. The South Carolina’s House of Representatives voted on July 9th for the removal of the flag. I will end this with a quote from Robert E. Lee:
“I think it wisest not to keep open the sores of war, but to follow the example of those nations who endeavored to obliterate the marks of civil strife, and to commit to oblivion the feelings it engendered.”
(Pictured) Bree Newsome
Newsletter Staff Rashida Davis
On June 19th, 1865, federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas to take control of the state, and to ensure that all enslaved people were set free. Although slavery was abolished more than 2 years earlier by the Emancipation Proclamation, which was issued by President Abraham Lincoln, it still continued in some areas. Juneteenth, a combination of the words June and nineteenth, commemorates the official end of slavery in the United States. Recognizing this important time in history, acknowledges the horrific injustices inflicted upon Americans for hundreds of years, and the fight for racial justice still continues today. The UAW recognizes the importance of equality in the workplace. Progressive Labor Leaders, such as John Lewis and Walter Reuther, believed and understood that labor rights are human rights. We stand on the shoulders of great men and women who have stood and fought on the front lines for these rights. That’s one of the reasons why celebrating Juneteenth is not an event or holiday for African-Americans alone, but it is a crucial part of American history. Here’s a statement given by former President Rory Gamble:
“The observance of Juneteenth is recognition of a profound milestone in our nation’s history. And while our struggles for equality in the United States have been long and difficult and sometimes fraught with setbacks and terrible loss, today we reflect on how far we, as Americans, have come in this journey. There is still much more to do my brothers and sisters, but I am heartened by what we have accomplished and the outpouring of support and activism we have seen this past year from coast to coast, from black, brown and white, demanding that our nation finally make good on the promise of real equality across this land.”
On Thursday, June 17th, 2021, President Joe Biden signed legislation establishing Juneteenth as the 12th federal holiday, the first new holiday since Martin Luther King Jr. Day was created in 1983. President Biden stated that it was “a day of profound weight and profound power, a day in which we remember the moral stain, the terrible toll that slavery took on the country”. I totally concur with our President's thoughts on the action he took that day. History is what it is. Neither good nor bad, it is the study of past events. We cannot change the past, but by recognition of it, we can determine what kind of footprint we will leave for generations to come.
JUNETEENTH BECOMES A FEDERAL HOLIDAY
Greetings Brothers and Sisters,
I hope you are all having a safe and enjoyable Summer, as we strive to move towards a sense of normalcy, putting the effects of this pandemic behind us. In an effort to remain safe and mitigate the spread of COVID-19, our state and local governments have implemented multiple shutdowns and various guidelines for social gatherings under the guise of the CDC since last March. These changes affected the way our children have learned, the manner people engaged in self-care, and how we celebrated holidays and joyous occasions. In addition, the multiple store closings and layoffs resulted in an economic recession.
Being isolated from friends and loved ones along with the economic downturn from job loss, has had a profound effect on many people’s mental health. According to a KGG Health Tracking Poll, approximately 41% of adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression as of January of 2021, in comparison to 11% from a similar poll reported before the onset of the pandemic. Alcohol and substance use also increased by 13% during this time due to Coronavirus-related stress.
In addition, the pandemic has created new barriers for how individuals accessed services for mental illness and substance use disorders. Many counseling sessions, social work services, and AA/NA meetings were offered via Zoom rather than in-person. The lack of human contact and community further affected help-seeking behaviors and many ultimately suffered in silence.
Today, as Covid-19 cases continue to decrease and restrictions become more relaxed, service delivery and accessibility of services are reverting back to normal. I urge anyone who has been struggling with mental health symptoms and/or substance use to reach out to me at (734) 595-5360 so I can assist you with finding resources and services. As always, Reach out EARLY and reach out OFTEN!! Prevention is KEY!!!
Be Well & Take Care
Second Annual Little Mike Memorial
(Pictured) - Cameron and Mikayla Alexandrou
By: Andrew Lewis
(Pictured) - Mikayla and Sherry Alexandrou with Tom Tuomi
A good time was had by all who attended the second annual Little Mike Memorial on Saturday June 19th at Taylor Meadows Golf Club in Taylor, MI.
34 teams of golfers took to the tee boxes at Taylor’s finest course around 8 a.m. for the memorial’s shotgun start, in honor of late DDC committeeman Mike Alexandrou. The club house blew the horn around 11 to start a weather delay, which inadvertently brought the golfers together for a bonus mid round celebration. The weather broke shortly after and the golfers finished their rounds with the sun shining and the good times rolling.
When all of the scorecards were collected and recorded it was apparent that all of the teams had plenty of great shots out there… golf or otherwise. The winners of the day with a score of 12 under were DDC’s own Brian Heyza and Jeff Williams, along with two of their friends.
Miller Cohen & Associates
Workers Comp. Attorney
Are respiratory and skin conditions that develop as a result of exposure to paint, coolant or other fumes particular to an automotive plant covered by the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act (WDCA)? Although they initially were not, they are now. When the WDCA was initially passed, it did not provide compensation for “occupational diseases”. In 1937, 31 specific occupational diseases were added to the WDCA and in 1943 they were removed. Although the WDCA does not directly define an “occupational disease”, Section 401(2)(b) of the WDCA is the closest to defining the term. Section 401(2)(b) states: “[p]ersonal injury” includes disease or disability that is due to causes and conditions that are characteristic of and peculiar to the business of the employer and that arises out of and in the course of employment. In Roberts v. Western Michigan Foundry, 1980 WCABO 2028, Chairperson Gillman, opined that we do not look at whether a physician can identify a disease, but rather we look at the factors that caused the disease and whether they are “characteristic of and peculiar to the business of the employer.” Id at 2030. In 2011, the WDCA was amended including Section 401 that now recognizes injuries as “compensable if work causes, contributes to, or aggravates pathology in a manner so as to create a pathology that is distinguishable from any pathology that existed prior.” Therefore, the WDCA now not only covers respiratory and skin conditions that are caused by but also pre-existing conditions that pathologically changed by the exposure. In other words, if you had Asthma and due to the exposure of paint fumes or coolants or other fumes characteristic of the employer, you now have been diagnosed with COPD, your injury would be considered an “occupational disease” and covered under the current WDCA. Our lawmakers have made changes to the WDCA consistent with the changing of industry over the years to better protect the working class but we must fight against the changes that have harmed injured workers. You should contact your State Representative and Senator and ask that the days you have to treat with your employer’s appointed medical provider be changed back to 10 days and that employers and/or their workers’ compensation carrier be made to once again assist injured workers in finding alternative employment following a work related injury. These changes in the 2011 amendments have significantly harmed injured workers by delaying vital medical treatment and have placed additional financial and emotional burdens on injured workers when they are required to look for work without assistance.
GM-POWERTRAIN RETIREE THOMAS RUSZKIEWICZ 11-3-20
MRS. PHYLLIS SWIENCICKI, wife of DDC retiree Peter Swiencicki 3-28-21
DDC RETIREE GILBERT JENKINS 4-18-21
GM-POWERTRAIN RETIREE TARRELL PARSONS 4-29-21
MRS. SHARON MANN, mother of DDC employee Yvonne Bierbaum 5-1-21
MRS. KAREN HANDLOSER, wife of DDC employee David Handloser 5-3-21
DDC RETIREE BOBBY MELTON 5-3-21
MRS. BETTY LUTHER, wife of DDC employee Robert Luther 5-3-21
DDC RETIREE FREEMAN LYONS, father of DDC employee Chey Lyons 5-7-21
GM-POWERTRAIN RETIREE LARRY BOYCE, SR. 5-9-21
MRS. HARRIETT CAPPS, surviving spouse of DDC retiree Willard Capps 5-11-21
GREGORY THEOBALD, brother of DDC employee Bradford Theobald 5-13-21
MRS. ROSEMARY KASPARIAN, mother of DDC employee Michael Kasparian 5-17-21
MRS. KRISTINA COLANGELO, mother of DDC employee Austin Robinsons 5-17-21
ANN PADULA, sister of DDC employee Gerald McWilliams 5-20-21
DDC RETIREE EDDIE “BIG ED” WILLIAMS 5-22-21
DDC RETIREE JOHN ROWSEY 5-28-21
MRS. YVONNE SCHULTE, mother of DDC employee Raymond Schulte 5-28-21
MRS. WANDA MAYER, mother of DDC employee Marlon Mayer 5-30-21
LACRYSTAL BOSTIC, sister of DDC employee Brianna Lewis 6-1-21
DDC RETIREE JOHN DEGHETTO, father of DDC employee John Deghetto 6-5-21
DDC RETIREE JOHN SHAW 6-5-21
DDC RETIREE HOWARD DANCY, father of DDC employee Jaundalyn Dancy 6-6-21
DDC RETIREE ELIJAH INGRAM 6-10-21
MRS. ELIZABETH OWENS, wife of DDC retiree Robert Owens 6-17-21
DDC RETIREE JAMES WILSON 6-28-21
DDC RETIREE EDWARD ADAMSKI, husband of DDC employee Sandra Adamski 6-30-21
DDC EMPLOYEE DWAYNE PRICE 6-30-21
DDC EMPLOYEE THEODORE “TED” LADUKE 7-8-21
by Ray Herrick
On June 24th, 2020, the UAW Communication Department, in conjunction with the UAW Labor Union Communications Association (LUCA) held the much-delayed 2019 Excellence in Communications/LUCA Awards. This prestigious event is “normally” conducted at the annual LUCA Conference, but was conducted virtually this year, due to the closing of the Walter and May Reuther Education Center at Black Lake during the Coronavirus pandemic.
The virtual festivities were held on the UAW website, with UAW Public Relations Director Brian Rotherberg as the Master of Ceremonies. Our Local 163 Newsletter, “The Union Times” was recognized with awards in several catagories, as has become de rigueur for our outstanding publication. For the 3rd consecutive year, “The Union Times” was awarded 1st place in the writing category for writer’s first time submitting an article for award consideration, with GM-Romulus Powertrain’s esteemed “Kitchen Captain” Darryl Stephens’ excellent article titled “Tales of a Local 163 Strike Kitchen Captain” from the Fall 2019 issue. “The Union Times” continuing series “Politically Speaking”, authored by Staff Member Ray Herrick, was awarded with its second consecutive writing award for “Best Series”. The 2019 submission was obviously bolstered by the inclusion of the many outstanding political pieces submitted by Staff Member Andrew Lewis, and is the 3rd win overall for this outstanding series. Digital Content Editor Ryan Martin received a 2nd place nod for his powerful cover of the Fall 2019 issue showing GM-Powertrain Committeman Dale Dupuis, picket sign in hand, during the momentous UAW Strike against General Motors in 2019. Local 163’s excellent SolidWeb website was awarded 2nd place for its innovative designs and constant updates of much-needed information, from President Ralph Morris, Jr., and another 2nd place award in the overall “General Excellence” category, which is much like the “Best Picture” award at the Academy Awards, and nearly as coveted!
The topper on an evening that added another slew of much-deserved awards for “The Union Times” was the Alfred H. “Pops” Nudi Award for Lifetime Achievement, which for 2019 was awarded to UAW Local 163 past-Vice President, Alfreada Wallace, for her myriad contributions to the UAW membership of UAW Local 163, the reemergence of the UAW Local 163 newsletter, and other membership communications initiatives, during her long, and storied, Union career.
Congratulations to “The Union Times”, and their staff of writers, editors and contributors, for another year of “Excellence in Communications”, and to the many award winners. The staff of “The Union Times” looks forward to continuing their award-winning tradition of bringing excellent content, and all of the important issues-of-the-day, to our dedication membership, in every quarterly publication.
When Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan was campaigning for the governorship in the fall of 2018, her nearly incessant screed was aimed at the crumbling infrastructure in our state, “FIX THE DAMN ROADS!” Though Whitmer won a resounding victory in the election to follow, there has yet to be a comprehensive legislative answer proposed for this decades-long debacle, in either the Republican Party-controlled State House, or State Senate. How something so obvious, and so obviously necessary, can continue to be a politically partisan issue fairly boggles the mind! As recently as 2016, the White House Commission on Infrastructure rated the conditions of our roads, bridges, and drinking water infrastructure as a “D+”. A simultaneous study by the American Society of Civil Engineers hypothesized that by 2025, Michigan would lose nearly $4 Trillion in Gross Domestic Product (GDP); $3,400/year in disposable income for every residence; and 2.5 Million jobs lost, due to our crumbling infrastructure. (VanHulle, L. “Michigan Needs $4B for Infrastructure…” 23 Jan. 2018. Bridge Michigan. www.bridgemi.com/specialreport...).
In July of this year, the U.S. House of Representative passed H.R. 2, known as the “Invest in America Act.” This $715 Billion bill passed along nearly straight party lines, with only 3 Republicans voting in favor of legislation that will allot nearly $350 Billion to repair our roads and bridges, and make our highways safer, and $117 Billion to ensure Americans have clean drinking water, among other essential surface transportation and water infrastructure projects. Of this $715 Billion, the state of Michigan will reap $211.7 Million in 70 different projects to fix our terrible roads and bridges, and repair or replace the water pipes that are deteriorating and leeching lead and chemicals into our drinking water, but yet similar, additional funding legislation in our state government goes nearly extinct.
After the passage of the “Invest in America Act” in the U.S. House, a bipartisan U.S. Senate Budget Committee agreed on an additional $1.2 Trillion in infrastructure spending. However, the far-right wing coalition of U.S. Senators, such as Ted Cruz of Texas, and Josh Hawley of Missouri, have threatened to filibuster any vote on this proposal, essentially killing it in under normal Senate procedures. Not to get too deep into the weeds here on legislative rules and minutiae therein, but there is a budget process known as “reconciliation” that could expedite the passage of this much-needed shot-in-the-arm for FIXING THE DAMN ROADS!
The reconciliation process would allow a budget proposal to pass through the U.S. Senate by a simple 51 vote majority, rather than the 60 vote filibuster-proof majority needed to pass everything else. President Biden has proposed a budget that would afford nearly $6 Trillion on not only physical, surface transportation needs, but allots hundreds of billions for what he refers to as “human infrastructure”: $400 Billion for taking better care of our elderly and disabled, by refurbishing and updating long-term care facilities, and better pay and training for their caregivers; $300 Billion to enhance clean energy programs, and upgrade our manufacturing facilities with the necessary innovations to make us competitive in a global society; $200 Billion for better, and more secure broadband networks, to reach the rural areas of our country, and prevent proprietary information hacking by unfriendly countries; over $200 Billion for Housing projects; the federal expansion of Medicare, and several hundred million dollars for research and the implementation of badly-needed climate change initiatives.
This all sounds reasonable, long overdue, and widely needed to keep our economy humming nationwide, and especially here in Michigan. Then, why have these issues been ignored for decades, until the roads are literally crumbling beneath our wheels, and a high school dropout in his mom’s basement can shut down our entire electrical grid?! It is the same answer that has plagued the American body politic since this country was founded…MONEY. Even though the benefits of FINALLY FIXING THE DAMN ROADS would certainly favor the ultra-rich and the mega-Corporations, they are adamant that they will not pay for these upgrades and repairs. In a budget reconciliation process, the majority party must show how they would pay for this package, and with this spending to be paid for with a tax increase on the ultra-wealthy and the corporations they control, it is a complete “NO-GO” for the Republicans, who rely on this group’s political patronage to keep their positions.
Politically-insecure Democrats, and beholden Republicans have failed to make headway on repairing and replacing our crumbling physical infrastructure for generations, and while they diddled with our ability to make a living, new crisis have emerged: Our problematic electrical grids; the easily-hacked broadband system, and not enough charging stations for the next generation of electric vehicles, are heaped on to this enormous, and long-overlooked “elephant in the room”. Simply put, politicians…take a ride down I-696, I-94, I-75 and hold on tight to your coffee cup…do I really have to say it again?
FIX THE DAMN ROADS
Words are empty without action, which is why President Biden recently signing an executive order regarding work place competition and other corporate misdeeds helps match his actions to his claims of being the most labor friendly president in decades.
The Executive order covered many important issues with competition in America, such as the orders provisions for reducing prices for medication by opening competition with Canada and transparency on airline fees. While these actions would help all Americans, the provisions dealing with non compete clauses and licensing hits the closest to home for working men and women.
Affecting between 30-60 million working Americans, non compete clauses give employers too much leverage over employees when it comes to negotiating higher wages and benefits. A non compete clause prohibits workers from accepting offers of higher paying jobs, essentially trapping employees where they are for the duration of their agreement. The order encourages the FTC to ban or limit non compete clauses.
Another issue the order covers are overly burdensome occupational licensing requirements. Around 30% of jobs in the US require a license, up from 5% in the 1950’s. With many of these licenses being unnecessary. Without a single federal criteria for licensing, it puts further strain on licensed workers who move to a new state. The order encourages the FTC to ban unnecessary occupational licensing.
Lastly, a provision in the order aims to put an end to existing guidance that allows third parties to compile wage data and make it available only to employers. This data can be used to help suppress wages in entire industries. The order encourages the FTC and DOJ to strengthen antitrust guidance to prevent employees from suppressing wages.
What presidents choose to sign and what they choose to talk about in speeches and interviews don’t always line up. This executive order, along with every other win labor has amassed under Biden so far, is hopefully another sign of extended prosperity for the working people of America.
Just can't compete
Ray Curry is one of us and by us, I mean he comes from the working class with in plant experience! He is a military veteran and served three years on active duty within the U.S. Army and also spent five years in the U.S. Army Reserve. He is a longtime grassroots activist and a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, Tn. He is a Silver Life member of the NAACP and is a member of the national NAACP Board of Directors.
Mr. Curry is a graduate from the University of North Carolina and also Charlotte with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration / Finance. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Alabama. He joined the UAW family in July 1992, when he was hired as a truck assembler at Freightliner Trucks in Mount Holly, North Carolina. During that time he got active in the union and served on the local’s civil rights committee and as a delegate for the area A. From 1998 to 2004, UAW Local 5285 members elected him to serve in numerous leadership positions, UAW Constitutional Convention delegate, chairman of the trustees, financial secretary-treasurer and alternate committeeperson.
In October 2004, UAW President Ron Gettelfinger appointed him as an International representative assigned to Region 8. His assignment as a servicing representative included aerospace, automotive, heavy truck, and numerous automotive supplier locations in Alabama and Tennessee. Mr. Curry was responsible for collective bargaining, arbitration, organizing, political action and other bargaining-unit assignments.
In June 2010, he was appointed Region 8 assistant director. In July 2015, under his leadership, the region successfully organized the first gaming bargaining unit of Region 8 as part of a coalition of four other unions to represent the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore, Maryland. He was elected as a 2012 Democratic National Convention alternate delegate on behalf of the state of Tennessee and later became a full voting delegate at the convention. Curry is the 2017 recipient of the A. Philip Randolph Leon Lynch Lifetime Achievement Award, 2017 recipient of the Tennessee State AFL-CIO Presidential Award, the 2018 PR Latta Rank and File Award from the North Carolina AFL-CIO, as well as the 2019 National Newspaper Press Association’s National Leadership Award.
He was elected President of the UAW on June 28, 2021 by the International Executive Board upon the retirement of UAW President Rory L. Gamble. Curry officially assumed the office of president on July 1, 2021 and will serve out the remainder of the term until June 2022.
By: Mitchell Fox
Introducing: New UAW International President Ray Curry
"“UAW members ultimately want a voice. And Joe Biden is committed to giving UAW members that voice at the table.”
UAW International President
"I pledge to continue to build upon our commitment to a culture of transparency, reforms and checks and balances. I will be embracing the model that has been set forth by my brother and friend, Rory L. Gamble, to be accessible and accountable to our members, to keep them informed and engaged. Rory has led us through the storm, and we are so grateful for his leadership.”