Misinformation, Deceptions, Lies & Disrespect
Stores Part #01 09/01/06
Just a little less than a year ago, in November 2005, the Local 223 Stores Division Officers, and Officers from other Divisions were invited to participate in the then ongoing AVA/PEP’s. From the onset, we were met with what was the beginning of an onslaught of Misinformation, Deceptions, Lies & Disrespect from Management.
This series of articles, Misinformation, Deceptions, Lies & Disrespect, is dedicated to sharing views on this subject from the workers, with the workers perspective in mind. Also through this series of articles I intend to expose the misconception that Misinformation, Deceptions, Lies & Disrespect is a violation of CORE VALUES
A few of these indiscretions were mentioned previously on this website in other “Articles” and “Savings Opportunities”, but are well worth noting again. Let’s start with a few bits of Misinformation, Deceptions, Lies & Disrespect that the Stores Division initially encountered.
The Stores and Motor Trans Divisions were approached by Management at about the same time to join their process teams to assist DTE and their consultants collect ideas from the Represented Membership that would save time, money, identify process improvements or other ideas that would benefit themselves or the Company.
On Monday December 12th the Stores Chairman, and myself were invited to 242 Service Building for a meeting with the D.O. Co-Lead, and another Stores Supervisor. The D.O. Management process team, their black belts and others present said DTE was in need of saving 100-150 million dollars. (between 2006-2010?) I don’t recall if DTE’s consultants were present at this meeting or not.
From the information we were given, it appeared DTE & their consultants wanted to collect some cost savings ideas in response to that need. This was the first Deception. The reality exposed later, showed they were collecting information to support cutting heads and compromising the Union contract more than anything else.
At this meeting they had us view a short VHS tape with a message from a couple of VP’s. On the tape, 2 DTE VP’s laid out what they felt was on the horizon involving the AVA/PEP process as they saw it. The tape was later used at each Service Center to help solicit participation as the teams made their rounds.
The DTE Co-Leads, their black belts and others, indicated to us, (likely at the direction of DTE’s consultants), they felt the best way to get participation from Stores (or any divisional represented workforce), was to have Divisional Officers present at the Service Center visits, thus we were told at the December 12th 2005 meeting they wanted us to make the rounds with them to help assure participation. This was their second Deception, as I believe it became apparent later, first line Management team leaders did not want Union leaders tagging along. I further believe the primary person responsible for trying to minimize the Union leaderships involvement and influence was the Ann Arbor Stores Supervisor which is explained further below.
I do think however, the consultants wanted Union leaders involved, and with good reason from a consultants point of view. It would make it easier for them to shift blame from themselves and the Company and in the direction of the Union in regard to any negative issues that would ensue by saying the Union brought those issues to the table. When you consider what I believe to be the unscrupulous nature of consultants, it’s easy to see why there need not be an element of truth in their finger pointing because I believe Deceptions & Lies are what they are all about.
First line Management however apparently had other thoughts about Union involvement, as they often do. The Management team tried to stray from the game plan and distance themselves from the Union members on more than one occasion, which Vince Dow addressed with them a couple of times and asked them to be sure to keep us involved. Unfortunately for Vince, he doesn’t understand he lacks sufficient horsepower to reverse or enforce decisions contrary to that of the Ann Arbor Stores Supervisor or any of his cronies.
One of the other items placed on the table at that time, according to the Stores Co-Lead, was that overtime had been approved by Vince to help facilitate getting the meetings completed and to also encourage participation.
We discussed and agreed, the meetings should flow equally from day shift into the afternoon shift to assure any resulting OT was distributed as evenly as possible and to maximize participation and minimize Service Center visits. This turned out to be the third Deception as the Ann Arbor Stores Supervisor wanted the locations changed as well as the starting time of the afternoon shifts so they would not participate on overtime.
At that juncture, we consulted our collective date books and developed, what the Represented team thought was a plan to accommodate all team members, both non-represented and represented.
We agreed to start in the north, work our way south, beginning first with Lapeer Service Center on Wednesday December 21st at 2:00 pm and we would develop further visitation plans as we proceeded. This turned out to be the fourth Deception as the Ann Arbor Stores Supervisor had this plan changed.
On Dec. 13, 2005 in Ann Arbor, the Ann Arbor Stores Supervisor asked what had been discussed the previous day. I explained the plan, which he immediately disagreed with. He didn’t like our visitation schedule and he didn’t like the fact we were making the OT equal. He said we should make the visits earlier in the day and change the shifts of the afternoon people so they would be attending on straight time. He continued to make overtures in regard to his dissatisfaction with this over the next couple of days.
On Thursday December 15th we had an early start in Ann Arbor to remove snow and salt the parking lot. At about 6:30 AM my co-worker told me the Stores meeting at Lapeer on Dec. 21st was going to be cancelled because the Ann Arbor Stores Supervisor had it changed, and had created his own plan. Bare in mind, my co-worker had nothing to do with any of the planning, any of the meetings except for the one he would attend as a Stores employee, nor was he in a position to discuss such things with other team members.
A couple of hours later I received a call from the Lapeer Stores Supervisor who was the Stores team Co-Lead. She indicated the meeting at Lapeer was cancelled and that she was going to email a new schedule of Service Center visits. She said she had decided to make changes to the hours and Service Center visits and indicated she was going to have the meetings held earlier on day shift instead of what was discussed and the meetings were going to be done in Service Center clusters.
The larger cluster was in the cluster of what I believe were Deceptions & Lies concerning the new game plan, a cluster I’d rather not try to sort out and enumerate. My contention these were additional Deceptions & Lies was supported by the Lapeer Stores Supervisors lack of reaction and failure to challenge my statement when I said “I had already been told about the schedule, hour and date changes made by the Ann Arbor Stores Supervisor”. This brought to completion Deceptions #2, #3 and #4 and added a cluster of additional Deceptions & Lies by the Stores Co-Lead.
On the positive side, visiting the Service Centers in clusters did make perfect sense, however the time changes negated the balance of OT between the day and afternoon shift, which I believe also negated Vince Dows intent and may have negatively impacted the level of participation.
Making schedule changes without consulting Union members, not only caused several scheduling conflicts for the Stores Chairman and myself, it also demonstrates how little respect first line Management has for the Union, a position apparently shared by Senior Management since they either make excuses for first line Supervision, reward them for disrespecting us, or as a minimum turn a blind eye. This was also the culmination of the first Lie, obviously they really weren’t concerned whether we made the visits with them or not.
If they had really wanted our participation, they would have made sure we could be present throughout the process, and would not have altered the original schedule and created another without concerning themselves with whether or not we could be present.
As mentioned previously, I believe this also clearly demonstrates how little respect first line Supervision has for decisions made by Senior Management. When they don’t agree, first line supervision simply overrides those decisions with their own. This is one of many reasons why we as a Union, can never trust statements made by Senior Management, because their statements are often meaningless because of the alterations made to them before they reach our level because first line supervision is going to do what they want to do.
The most frustrating aspect of this is whenever Senior Management makes a statement to us, we have to wait to see how it’s going to shake out at the bottom after first line management puts their spin on it. Apparently Senior Management either doesn’t have the courage or the know how to prevent first line Supervision from overriding and/or altering their ideas and decisions.
Later, I was told by my co-worker, the Ann Arbor Stores Supervisor was crowing to others, several days after the schedule changes, of having had the entire Stores itinerary changed, even though he wasn’t even present at the 12/12/05 meeting. Actually, he wasn’t present at any of the Service Center visits. He had no apparent reason to influence these changes other than to antagonize Union Leadership and try to show he is in charge and demonstrate how much control he has.
The final result for the Stores Divisional Officers was, I wasn't able to attend but 1 of the meetings and the beginning of another because of scheduling conflicts and the Chairman had to hastily make several modifications to his schedule in order that he try and attend the rest. I believe all the Service Center visits were attended by a Stores Officer, even though our schedules obviously weren’t a consideration.
The Ann Arbor Stores Supervisor did change the Ann Arbor afternoon worker’s hours to assure his afternoon man participated on straight time. I don’t know how many others had their shift changed at the Ann Arbor Stores Supervisors direction, as my own schedule prevented me from attending most of the meetings, consequently I wasn’t present to ask.
An obvious question is; why would anyone go to such extremes to make things difficult for the represented workers? I believe an explanation may be found in some of the Ann Arbor Stores Supervisors utterances to me and others when I first arrived in Ann Arbor as a warehouseman.
His father owned a bottling plant somewhere in the Midwest that, according to him, apparently had union problems. He alluded to this fact a couple of times when I first came to Ann Arbor, although he hasn’t mentioned it in recent memory. I believe it was clear he has no use for represented people, (present company excluded, he said). It could be a fact he’d now like to conceal, as I believe he’s working with, and/or using the Denali Consultant, help deliver punishment to Local 223 & Local 17 wherever he can exert influence, for his fathers union woes.
As mentioned earlier, the Ann Arbor Stores Supervisor seems to have a habit of going to just about any length to demonstrate to his subordinates and peers, how much control he has over their lives. Mix in his propensity to try and make others look bad to make himself look like a hero and you have the makings of some serious issues, and a pretty volatile mix.
We'll probably see a lot of fireworks as he tries to run roughshod over 3 warehouses of angry workers.
His actions remind me a lot of an article I read recently about President Bush acting much like a dictator. Bush was characterized a ruler who acts as if his powers are omnipotent, unconstrained by external or superior law and has the power to take whatever actions he wants without concerning himself about whether they are legal. Anything he does is legal because he is the law. All of this will continue to come to light as this series of articles, Misinformation, Deceptions, Lies and Disrespect, itself continues.
The bottom line is these Deceptions & Lies (and the inherent Disrespect of Union personnel) were probably the initial stepping stones for the Ann Arbor & Lapeer Stores Supervisors recent promotions.
Before I close this first article, I’d like to make a few comments in regard to the consultants. I think it’s obvious Denali, as well as the McKensie consultant’s primary function is to find ways to decimate Union membership, destroying the lives and livelihood of working class people and their families. This is one thing represented and non-represented members alike should never lose sight of.
I firmly believe when we’re talking to the Denali & McKensie Consultants, that’s the type of people we’re giving information to. At least one of our upper Management was hired from the ranks of one of these consulting firms, so I don’t think any of us should believe our jobs are ever going to be safe now, or anytime in the near future. His previous employer, and those like them, will continually keep getting hired back, forever assaulting the Union, low level white collar workers and their families. I believe this in part, may be what Tony was alluding to when he said we’re going to have to “Get Comfortable With Being Uncomfortable” which brings to mind a bumper sticker I saw recently that read “The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves”.
Bill St.Clair, web servant to: thisismy2centsworth.com
This page was originally uploaded on 09/01/06. This page was revised on 09/01/06
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