Rank-and-file strikers and supporters picket GM World Headquarters in downtown Detroit Oct. 9. (WW Photo: Martha Grevatt)Bulletin: On Wednesday, October 16, 31 days into strike, the UAW and GM announced that a tentative agreement had been reached. On October 17 local plant union leaders will vote on whether to bring the proposed contract to the rank and file for a vote. Then members will vote whether to accept it. The local leaders are also voting on whether to continue the strike until the vote results are known. Stay tuned for more details.On Oct. 15, close to 50,000 General Motors workers will have been on strike for one month. The last time this many workers struck a single company was in 2007, also a GM strike but lasting only two days. Determination is growing, not waning with time, and the longer workers are out the less they say they will settle for when a contract is finally presented to them.For the past week the United Auto Workers and GM have traded offers. The UAW says if GM agrees to its latest contract proposal, they will bring it to the striking members for a vote. But the company has not agreed to anything; the UAW says GM is “playing games.” (uaw.org)One of GM’s “games” was sending a letter appealing to each striking employee directly. GM gave a vague description of its latest proposal and blamed the UAW for dragging out negotiations and prolonging the strike. This is an illegal Unfair Labor Practice known as “direct dealing.”GM and CEO Mary Barra apparently see themselves as above the law, as they demonstrated previously when Barra announced in 2018 that four U.S. plants would close. Three were closed before the strike, violating contract language prohibiting closing or idling plants during the life of the agreement. GM is also violating conditions mandated by the state of Michigan when it granted billions in tax breaks.But the unwritten caveat under capitalist law is that the exploiting class is not bound to respect laws or legal contracts when their class interest is impinged upon.Strikers are not so fortunate, even though they are engaged in what’s known as “protected concerted activity” under the National Labor Relations Act. Police in several locations have been forcing strikers to let management and delivery drivers through the gates. Some supervisors have even brought in non-union workers to work on the lines during the strike. Pickets have been arrested at plants in Tennessee, Texas, and Kansas.When GM sent its letter to individual workers, the company also released it to the media. This was a shallow ploy designed to leverage public opinion against the UAW, as was GM’s opportunistic decision to restore health benefits initially cut at the strike’s onset. Spend a few minutes on any picket line and listen to the cacophony of honking horns, and you will witness the effectiveness of GM’s public relations gimmicks! Donations of food, water, coffee and now firewood to help strikers keep warm arrive regularly at the lines and local union halls. Other unions are joining strikers and raising money. Businesses are offering everything from free haircuts and pet food to $1 hamburgers at a bar and grill.Backbone of the strikeThe rank and file, holding down the line and making huge financial sacrifices, are the backbone of the strike. From social media comments and memes to hip-hop videos made on the strike lines, they are showing class awareness, thoughtfulness, humor, creativity and above all militancy.Two members of UAW Local 163 in Romulus, Mich., have been holding regular pickets of GM world headquarters in downtown Detroit. On Oct. 9, they built a “red flu” protest via social media. Strikers and supporters traveled from Flint, Toledo and Cleveland to attend the action, which was not sanctioned by the UAW.Opinion on the lines varies when it comes to trusting the top leadership. The head negotiator, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes, has thus far not been linked to the corruption scandal that erupted after a federal investigation made embezzlement and bribe-taking public. Many strikers see the federal government’s ulterior motives in going after the union right before the strike began.Some union members feel Dittes is genuinely fighting in their interest, but others are leery of anyone at the International. Either way, the red flu action raised a serious question: Why don’t the UAW and the AFL-CIO mobilize their members and vast numbers of supporters for a mass strike rally in front of GM? Or how about mass picketing to defy — and defeat — court injunctions that limit pickets and enable line-crossers? Much more could be done to win this strike. GM is still resisting union demands to make temporary workers full time with seniority and other rights. Reports on the latest company proposal indicate they would have to work three years without interruption to upgrade. In other words, they would have to start over after an unplanned “interruption” such as a layoff or medical leave.Given the preponderance of low-wage, part-time and precarious work in today’s gig economy, strikers will tell you they are fighting for the whole working class.Grevatt is a UAW activist who retired from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles after 31 years. She continues to serve on the board of UAW Local 869. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare this
19SHARESShareShareSharePrintMailGooglePinterestDiggRedditStumbleuponDeliciousBufferTumblr,Charles Fagan Charles E. “Chuck” Fagan, III is President and CEO of PSCU, a credit union service organization that leverages the cooperative model to better serve credit unions and their members through … Web: www.pscu.com Details One of my favorite customer service quotes comes from the automotive industry: “If we aren’t customer driven, then our cars and trucks won’t be, either.” In the same vein, whether members will still do business with their credit unions in 2015 and beyond has a lot to do with how credit unions set out to serve them.Members want to be served how they want to be served, and credit unions must meet those desires—which will likely be different by generation and by member. The goal for credit unions is to move repetitive, information-based transactions to online channels and have member needs related to life events (such as buying a home or saving for a child’s college education) served in the more expensive physical locations. There’s no magic formula for this, but it’s time to head in that direction.As you think about the new year—and the next five—consider taking the following three steps to get on the best possible path for member service delivery.Set up an executive- or board-level committee to spearhead knowledge and next steps in this arena.Stan Moeckli, CCE, president/CEO of $148 million Electro Savings Credit Union in St. Louis, told me recently about something I think needs to become an accepted best practice. Electro Savings CU put together a board-level committee to review the latest in service delivery, including possible fee structures; compare the CU’s offerings with market trends; and make recommendations to the CU’s board next spring. (To help in applying this idea, the charter for Electro Savings CU’s committee is available to CUES Members in CUES Members Share. Members can get password help by emailing [email protected])Look at what leaders in member service delivery are doing. It was my pleasure earlier this year to visit the “Inspiration Branch” of $2 billion Summit Credit Union, Madison Wis. President/CEO Kim Sponem is a CUES member and a member of our board. If you’re at this Summit CU location to talk about a loan for a special trip, you might head to the left side where you can make your plans in a room with airplane seats. Next door to that is a setting that feels like home, where members interested in taking out a mortgage might want to have their conversation with CU staffers. Next to that is a white building with big columns symbolic of a university, a place where members can talk about student loans or saving for college. You get the idea about just how cool service delivery feels when you’re in this branch. Notably, there isn’t a teller line at this location. Instead, there are half a dozen universal agents at a circular desk in the middle, all trained and ready to help you do whatever you want to do.Learn, learn learn.The service delivery landscape will continue to change and evolve. To keep up, look to periodicals and expert presenters for ideas that may become actionable. For example, you might want to read“Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?” about interactive teller machines from the December issue of our CU Management magazine. Or, you may find value in attending CUES School of Product and Channel Management in April, or the new CUES School of Payments in May, both in Chicago.And don’t think learning is just for members of the C-suite. CUES knows for sure that front-line branch staff need to be top member service providers. It’s a huge but key responsibility to ensure that your stars who interact with members every day have opportunities to grow and evolve their roles. That way, they can be of ever-better service to your members—and therefore to your organization. We’ll be here to help.Charles E. “Chuck” Fagan, III, is president/CEO of the Credit Union Executives Society, an individual membership association based in Madison, Wis. Before joining CUES in January 2013, Fagan served as executive vice president of PSCU’s national sales and client relationship teams and helped pioneer the company’s role in bringing emerging payments technologies to its member-owner credit unions. Previously, he held positions at Electronic Data Systems and Virginia Credit Union. Fagan earned a BSBA in finance from Longwood University in Farmville, Va. He and his wife, Kathy, have two daughters.