Shoptalk FINAL ISSUE VOL. 22, NO. 15

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Our sincere condolences are extended to Brother Mike Byrd and his family on the death of Mike’s father, Alvin John Byrd, Saturday, April 10. Service was held Wednesday, April 14, in Alex, Oklahoma. 

Our heartfelt sympathy is extended to Brother Elvin Emery on the death of his wife, Kathy, Monday, April 12. Before transferring to Kansas City, Brother Emery worked in Body Shop on second shift. Service will be held Monday, April 19, 10 a.m., Drexel Boulevard Church of Christ, 1301 N. Drexel Boulevard, Oklahoma City, under the direction of Corbett Funeral & Cremation Service, 807 W. Wilshire Boulevard, Oklahoma City, 488-3847. 

On Monday, GM announced an $8 million investment to double the size of its global battery systems lab at the Warren Technical Center. The 30,000-square-foot expansion will improve on-site testing of battery cell, module and pack technologies. "GM is building on its commitment to lead the development of electric vehicle technology – from battery cell design to the charging infrastructure – and today’s investment furthers our work in this area," said Micky Bly, GM executive director, global electrical systems, hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries. This addition will benefit consumers by helping us put cleaner, more efficient vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range, on the road more quickly and affordably." Source: Detroit Free Press 

A rule that will allow federal agencies to require that contractors on large-scale public construction projects agree to union representation for workers is set to be issued by the Obama administration. The executive order, the latest in a series of moves by the administration that are favorable to unions, will become effective next month. The rule doesn’t mandate that federal agencies require contractors to bargain with unions on all jobs, but it clears the path for government agencies to make such agreements a requirement for contractors on jobs costing $25 million or more. Policies designed to promote union representation on federal construction projects were last in effect during the Clinton administration. In 2001, President George W. Bush issued an executive order prohibiting federal agencies from requiring such agreements. 

Union representation matters when it comes to enforcing health and safety rules in workplaces. In light of the deaths of 29 miners last week at a non-union Massey mine, which racked up 1,342 safety violations from 2005 through this month, Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers that, with the United Mine Workers of America, represents workers at America’s unionized mines, appeared on MSNBC’s "Ed Schultz Show" and bluntly declared: "(This) is another series of fatalities at another non-union mine. I can absolutely say that if these miners were members of a union, they would have been able to refuse unsafe work in our collective agreements, and they would have been able to refuse that work, and would not have been subjected to that kind of atrocious conditions." Writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette several years ago, Charles McCollester, former director of the Pennsylvania Center for the Study of Labor Relations, made the essential point: "There is no question that union mines are safer. Critically, workers in a union mine are not afraid to speak," explained McCollester. "In a non-union operation, asking questions or challenging company mining practices or safety procedures can lead to termination." That’s why union’s matter. 

Issuing a "don’t buy" recommendation for the first time on any Toyota, Lexus or Scion vehicle, Consumer Reports urged customer not to buy the 2010 Lexus GX460 because it may roll over in certain situations based on tests by the magazine’s automotive test drivers. According to the magazine’s testers, the specific problem involves the slow reaction of the vehicle’s electronic stability control system when a driver takes it through a turn while quickly lifting his or her foot off the accelerator.  

"All four of Consumer Reports’ auto engineers who conducted the test experienced the problem in an exercise used to evaluate what’s called the lift oversteer," the magazine said in a statement. Less than a day after this warning, Toyota’s Lexus brand has ordered dealers to stop selling the vehicle. "We are taking the situation with the GX460 very seriously and are determined to identify and correct the issue Consumer Reports identified," said Mark Templin, Lexus group vice president. 

Oklahoma Rock-a-Thon, a fundraiser for OK Autism Alliance and their free resource center at OU Health Sciences Center, will be held Saturday, April 17, 3 p.m. to 2 a.m. at Sauced, 2912 Paseo, Oklahoma City. The cost is $5.00, and all proceeds benefit the Alliance and their resource center.  

The next breakfast for our Skilled Trades members/retirees is scheduled for Saturday, May 1, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at the Riverwind Casino. 

I would just like to remind you that after the Local Union closes, Judy Calhoun, UAW Region 5 Special Assigned Benefit Representative, will be available at the Union Hall to assist you with your benefit needs. Her office number is 405-737-0148, toll-free number 866-782-6241, or you can call the Area Office at 405-741-2222, and leave a message. Please keep in mind that Benefit Representatives are responsible for assisting when you have a problem or question regarding your pension, extended disability benefits, life insurance, health care, and PSP. They do not handle programs such as the UAW/GM Legal Services, GMAC Mortgage, New Vehicle Purchase Program, payroll deductions, or matters covered under the National Agreement. The card of phone numbers you received by mail contains telephone numbers and/or web site address to assist you in these issues. 

Next Wednesday, April 28, is Worker’s Memorial Day. The first Workers’ Memorial Day was observed in 1989. April 28 was chosen because it is the anniversary of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Each year, people in hundreds of communities and especially at work sites recognize workers who have been killed or injured on the job. Unions around the world now mark April 28 as an International Day of Mourning. Mourn for the Dead, Fight for the Living

We had a great Retiree Chapter meeting Tuesday night with 97 in attendance. Please mark your calendar for the second Tuesday of each month, 7:00 p.m., and attend the retiree meetings at the Union Hall. 

After the Local Union closes, the distribution of retiree plaques/watches will be handled by the Retiree Chapter at the monthly meetings. 

Once upon a time, the leadership of UAW Local 1999 came up with the idea of putting out a weekly newsletter to keep our members informed about issues in the plant and the community. They even came up with a name, "Hey, let’s call it Shop Talk!" So they did. The plan was for Local Union officers and Board members, Standing Committee chairs, and individual members to submit information that needed to be relayed to our members to the Local Union office and a young (at the time) professional employee of the Local Union would prepare the newsletter for distribution in the plant. Week after week, she would put out the call for information to be included in the week’s Shop Talk! "Hey, Shop Talk tomorrow. Get your article done." "Let’s get it in on time." "Come on, Bob, today’s Shop Talk day. Do you have your article yet?" On occasion when the professional employee had to miss work, the task fell to the other young (at the time) professional employee of the Local Union to gather information and prepare the newsletter. This no nonsense employee, having other work to do, would crack the whip and say "Bob, if you don’t have your article done in five minutes, we’re going to do Shop Talk without you! Let’s go get her done!" And sure enough, Shop Talk was put out. Then came the day it was announced that our plant would close. With everyone retiring, pre-retiring, transferring, or moving to the JOBS Bank, our members thought there would be no more Shop Talk. But that was not the case. Shop Talk continued, providing important information not only to our JOBS Bank and pre-retired members and retirees, but also to those who had transferred to other locations who continued to read Shop Talk and even copy it for their co-workers. Many times we were told that if not for Shop Talk, some who had transferred to other locations would get no news at all! We all knew that the day would come when there would be no more Shop Talk, and after 22 years of keeping our membership updated with a weekly Shop Talk, today will be the final issue. To Linda and Cheryl (the two then-young employees who grew older with the rest of us), we say thank you so much for helping to keep our members informed. And thanks, too, for putting up with us when we turned our articles in late, or not at all, for gathering additional information and correcting our grammar and spelling. We will all miss Shop Talk

The Local Union plans to keep the web site available for now and Brother Robert Chambers has graciously agreed to continue administration of the site. If you want to post information on the Bulletin Board – information about a meeting, notice of illness or death, just a hello, etc. -- the rules are still the same; you must provide a proper e-mail address with your posting. Brother Chambers has done a great job as our web master and we thank him for his dedication and hard work! 

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Well, this is our last Shop Talk and, like everything else, it’s heartbreaking to have another part of our work lives come to an end. So, I’m taking this chance to say thank you to every single member of UAW Local 1999 for being a part of the best union in the country and making my life better as well. 

Our secretary and bookkeeper, Linda Smith and Cheryl West, will also be leaving soon. They have been a part of our UAW family since the beginning. If you get the chance, tell them thank you for being such loyal and wonderful friends for all of these years. We love them! 

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka had some strong words for Wall Street on Tuesday. "Bank executives who took massive taxpayer bailouts are now pouring money into lobbying on financial reform," Trumka said. "It’s time for Congress to enact real financial regulatory reform and make Wall Street pay to create the jobs they destroyed." 

The financial crisis of the last two years has cost jobs, homes and financial security. It began with the sub-prime mortgage meltdown, including the selling of extremely risky, virtually unregulated financial instruments that were often sold to investors as anything but, the destruction of major financial institutions, and predatory if not outright fraudulent lending practices. The result: a recession not seen in generations, resulting in millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans who desperately want to work. Admittedly, it is not a sexy-sounding phrase, but if you aren’t calling for real financial regulatory reform NOW, you should be. 

It has been reported that $500 million was spent last year lobbying against many key reform provisions. It is so important that all of us speak up for real financial reform so that the devastation that our financial system and millions of American families experienced will never happen again. 

Supreme Court Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, "an unparalleled champion of the Constitution in the face of the Court’s increasingly conservative jurisprudential trend," has announced that he will retire this summer. Justice Stevens is considered the Court’s most outspoken defender of the need for judicial oversight of executive power. 

Equal Pay Day is Tuesday, April 20. How much does unequal pay cost you? With taxes due today, and Equal Pay Day on April 20, we thought we’d count up just how much unequal pay costs American families. For example. 

A young woman graduate of the same school, with the same kind of job, and same personal characteristics (marital status, children) as her male colleagues, earns 5% less the first year out of school. Ten years later, she earns 12% less. 

More than 70% of women work outside the home and are, therefore, important contributors to the household income. But full-time working women earn only 77% of what their male counterparts earn, so their family budgets are below what it could be. For women of color, the discrepancy is even greater – costing their families even more. 

Last year in Oklahoma, there were over 13,000 confirmed cases of child abuse. There were 51 child deaths as a result of maltreatment. 82% of those were children under the age of two. This is a staggering number and we must and can do better. Everyone agrees our children are Oklahoma’s most important resource, yet we continue to suffer with this problem. We should make it a priority to put an end to child abuse through strong law enforcement and by working hand-in-hand with the public and private organizations that fight this problem every day. 

April is Child Abuse Prevention month. Let’s work to make our state aware and put our children first! 

Attorney General Drew Edmondson announced Friday that he will not join in the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care reform bill approved by Congress. After spending hundreds of hours pouring over the 2,500 page health care bill, Edmondson said he, along with 17 other attorneys came to the same conclusion. The health care overhaul will extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans and make a host of other changes. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority said under the health care law, 250,000 more Oklahomans would have insurance in 2014. The health care overhaul will cost about $63 million a year through 2020, but the state could save $500 million with fewer non-paying patients. Hooray for Attorney General Edmondson’s courage to do what’s right and for upholding the law. 

The Letter Carriers’ 2010 Food Drive will be Saturday, May 8. Join in the drive to help collect food for Oklahomans. 

Workers’ Memorial Day is Wednesday, April 28. Mourn for the Dead – Fight for the Living! 

I also want to thank Bob Alexander, Bob Baxter, John Lockhart, Phil Maher, Dave McCurdy, Ray Modisette, Mic. Jaronek, Mary Chamness, Steve Kidwell, and Tim March – our Executive Board – for hanging in there for our Local so it could continue to run. 

‘Til we meet again! Solidarity Forever! 

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Has a life event occurred in your family – a marriage, divorce or death, birth or adoption? Many times participants in the GM Savings Plans (PSP) fail to update their beneficiary following such event. Keeping your beneficiary information up-to-date and complete will ensure that your GM PSP account balance will be paid to your family member(s) or individual(s) you want to receive said balance in the event of your death. Take time today to review your beneficiary information. You can do this online at, or call the GM Benefits & Services Center at 1-800-489-4646.

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