What the hell is this?

Mother Muckraker is an internal newsletter at the now defunct New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. (NUMMI) in Fremont, CA. The newsletter seeks to debunk the lies and misinformation spread by Toyota and their "company activists"; and more importantly, inform NUMMI union employees about the real reason why Toyota closed their award winning auto plant on April 1, 2010. NUMMI is dead, but Mother Muckraker lives on to serve as a testament to the greedy machinations of Toyota management. Stay tuned for updates.



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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Off The Cuff Conversatin’ With The Real Mother Muckraker

Muckraker (muck'-ray-ker) - A muckraker seeks to expose corruption of businesses or government to the public. The term originates with writers of the Progressive movement (early 1900s) within the United States who wanted to expose corruption and scandals in government and business. Muckrakers often wrote about the wretchedness of urban life and poverty, and against the established institutions of society, such as big business.

"The past is never dead. It's not even past." -William Faulkner

SOM (Son of a Muckraker): I just wanna say right away, momma, that its been an honor and a privilege working at NUMMI as rank and file UAW. The day I popped outta yo womb, you dropped some real knowledge into my brain with your “Barking Dog” newsletters. You got me learnt so I don’t get burnt. You be spittin’ it while the opposition, if they be admittin’ it… that they be s-----n’ it. Thank you momma , I love you.

Now that they’re shuttin’ down the plant. Here come the lies. The one I’ve heard over and over is that NUMMI has never had a strike. Is that true?

Momma (Caroline Lund):
The A.C. supporter expresses horror that former Chairman Richard Aguilar led us to walk out at the expiration of our contract in 1994. New people may not know why this strike was called. The Bargaining Committee walked us out because the Company was demanding: 1) a 10-hour workday with no overtime over 8 hours; 2) double points against us for absences on Fridays or Mondays; 3) in order to go to the bathroom during work time, you would need a doctor's note.
-- May 20, 2002

SOM: It seems the company got 1 out of the 3 since then.

Momma: The walkout was called by the entire Bargaining Committee, including members of both caucuses. It only lasted 45 minutes, because our show of unity caused the Company to capitulate. Once a union lets the Company know it is afraid to strike or against strikes, the union is finished. Our legal right to withhold our labor is the one real threat and power that the Company understands.

The Administration Caucus supporter (who doesn't have the guts to sign his/her name) says in the flyer, "They [myself and the United Alliance] don't know how to negotiate because they come from the old school General Motor days and you know what happened to General Motors Plant."

This is your standard fear-mongering about the plant shutting down, which the Company does all the time to get their way. Our union leaders have become little lap-dogs of the Company, echoing Company threats to shut down, to get us to shut up with any complaints.

New people, talk to the old-timers about the union in GM days. They will all tell you how the union was stronger back then, not weaker.
-- May 20, 2002

SOM: I think so too. I heard the old GM in Fremont filed the most grievances of all GM plants. Nowadays, they not only not file grievances, but some committeemen subject team members to a kangaroo court where the outcome has been predetermined. I think it was a mistake on the leadership’s part to make ANY concessions. Too many folks believe that the plant will stay open if only they will work harder, go to the bathroom less, give up Blue Shield, not fight the double points. But what now? The plant is closing and it had nothing to do with anything we gave up. The little we gave up only made management a little bolder the next time they wanted more concessions. Management only wants more and more out of us workers. I think management is there to enrich themselves at our expense… what do you think, momma?

Momma:the companies we are up against are ever more ruthless in their dog-eat-dog competition. Anyone who thinks NUMMI is an exception is really naïve, or on the take. The Enron revelations have shown us what happens behind the closed doors of the corporate world: Collusion between CEOs, attorneys, auditors and politicians to enrich the rich and screw the average working person.

Toyota is building a new truck plant in Mexico. It will dump NUMMI in the blink of an eye if it thinks it can make more profits elsewhere.
--Jan. 22, 2002

SOM: Yeah, you told us so, but no one listened. It’s all about profits. Those safety absolutes were just words. There ain’t no real trust and respect.

Momma: We need union members and leaders who are clear-eyed about corporate ruthlessness. Who don't fall for intimidation or flattery by management. Who think for themselves and don't just go along with what the International Union tells them to do. Who value democratic involvement of the membership.
Who aren't lazy. Who care most about the welfare of the membership, not about their own career. Let's look around us, find people like that, and put them forward to help us fight for the soul of our union.
--Jan. 22, 2002

SOM: I’m just wondering if any of them had what it took; and if there were, I’m wondering if there were enough of them. Like in the Labor Relations office, you ever notice how some committeemen and Labor Relations folks are getting’ a little too cozy…. eatin’ sushi together… using each others computers and just plain actin’ shady? I just imagine the Labor Relations folks gradually corrupting them one by one with their little acts of kindness til they succumbed to their seductive advances. Then, all of a sudden you have union folks speaking to TM’s on behalf of the company telling TM’s “we” this and “we” that. You know how you can tell the committeeman has been corrupted? Just close your eyes and hear the guy speak. If he sounds like a Labor Relations guy, you know he’s been turned. And I note the fact that it was not the company that sued you, but the members of the Administration Caucus who are management friendly who tried to shut you up. What did your lawyer tell ‘em?

Momma’s lawyer: “Given the nature of this dispute, it is extremely unfortunate that your clients have decided to threaten Ms. Lund with legal action instead of addressing the positions taken in The Barking Dog on their merits.

Furthermore, it is clear from the tone of your letter that you, on their behalf, are attempting to intimidate Ms. Lund from voicing her opinions regarding the current union administration. Ultimately, this type of bullying only weakens the union and drains the resources of its members.

However, notwithstanding the weakness of your position, Ms. Lund is interested in negotiating a mutually agreeable resolution to the issues discussed above. In particular, she is interested in ensuring that The Barking Dog is as accurate as possible.

Accordingly, if Mr. Torres states in writing that he had no involvement in the anonymous flyer, Ms. Lund will issue an apology for erroneously attributing authorship to him. (Your letter is mysteriously silent as to whether Mr. Torres actually authored the anonymous flyer.)

If, however, this proposed resolution is unacceptable to your clients, and you proceed with formal litigation against Ms. Lund, please be advised that we will respond with a motion to dismiss under California's Anti-SLAPP law, Code of Civil Procedure section 425.16. As you are aware, if we are successful in that motion, your clients will be required by law to pay Ms. Lund's attorneys' fees.

I look forward to hearing from you.”
April 30, 2000

SOM: Right on. That shut ‘em up good. I noticed that the lawyers you used was SIEGEL & YEE in Oakland which brings this to mind. If there’s some sort of legal action against the company, people should not sign the “General Release” for the retention package until they consult with a lawyer. If you sign it, you lose the right to sue the company. I think we all have til what…. Aug. 1st? The paperwork should state how long you have.

Anyways, I know we didn’t have much time to talk. Maybe we can continue this again, but we are running out of time & room on dis paper. So little time, so much great wisdom from you. Again, I’d like to thank you momma for your advice over the years and if anybody wants to read about what you were telling us back in the day, they can go to this German site where they put up a few of your “Barking Dogs”. WHO LET DA DOGS OUT!! ARF ARF ARF ARF!!! Later momma, Love you.

The Barking Dog 1999-2003

Caroline Lund-Sheppard : NUMMI rank and file TM worked on the line
9/24/44 - 10/14/2006

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