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Come celebrate Labor Day with Union Brothers and Sisters!!!

                UAW Local 180 President’s Report
           From the Desk of President Jeff Vassh

                             August 2014  


Due to the actions taken by the delegates at our UAW Constitutional Convention that was held in June and as a cost saving measure Solidarity magazine will be available online at UAW.org or you can have it emailed to you  They will also mail it via US Mail if you sign up (opt-in).  If you look on page 5 of your last issue it will explain the process.  The following is a quick link to the signup page: https://localunion.uaw.org/SolidaritySignup.php  .  You will need the mailing information on the back of the issue where it was addressed to you.  If you would like assistance with the process feel free to contact me.

Retiree Issues:
Current Retiree Healthcare update – Our current retirees (those that retired after May 1, 2005) that are Non-Medicare eligible are facing a very large premium increase starting this month.  The Grievance that was filed through our Local Union and advanced to the International Union will be heard in arbitration August 19th.  I would expect that it would take approximately six weeks to receive a decision.  We have also had some reports of members receiving new Anthem ID cards.  Only those that become Medicare eligible will receive a new card.  All others will continue to use the card you currently have.

Post IPO Retirees Lawsuit Update
– The discovery process has been completed and the briefs have been submitted.  The suit is in the hands of the court and they will make the determination if and when the actual hearing will be held.  At this point there is no date set.  So once again, this could take awhile and your benefits should remain the same.

Pre-IPO Healthcare Lawsuit Update
– Almost all the class members received their settlement. For the relative few that have not settled to this point, all of the claims have been calculated and sent to the court.  There are some medical service insurance claims that also need to be settled.  Our Retirees Benefit Rep. Kevin Mieczkowski has once again sent all medical claim information to the attorney to ensure they have all the information needed for the medical service claims settlement.  All claims will be paid at the final lawsuit settlement which may take a couple of months yet.

In the Plant
Since my last report, we added 29 new members, all assemblers.  As always, I ask that you welcome our new Union Brothers and Sisters and assist them in any way you can.  Although they go through an orientation process that covers a lot of information in a short amount of time, there is nothing better than to show them on the floor level the location of the evacuation and safe areas and how to manage their work environment.  Also, make sure they know their union steward and safety ambassador.  According to the numbers we currently have you may think we with all the hiring we would be well over 900 members.  Because the company is experiencing a large turn over (terminations and quits) we are at approximately 880 including those that are on various types of leave.

We have completed our Steward and Alternate Steward elections in the plant.
I was extremely happy to see that we have so many of our younger members stepping up to the challenge and becoming front line leaders within our Union.  We have sent six of these new leaders to our basic leadership training at our Region 4 Education Center (Pat Greathouse Center) in Ottawa, IL., and are currently working with the International Union Staff to have a Steward Seminar at our Local Union Hall later this month or early next month.  We will inform the Stewards and Alternates when we firm up a date.  Congratulations to all the front line leaders that were recently elected.  The membership has placed their trust and confidence in you.  I guarantee that if you put your heart into this position the rewards will far outweigh the frustration you will experience.  

If you haven’t heard the UAW has set up a Local Union for the Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, TN.  Our newest UAW members will be members of Local 42.  Although the UAW felt strongly about the Labor charges they filed they decided to drop them so they could proceed with chartering Local 42.  As it stands many workers in the VW plant are joining the union. The Local Union is functioning within the structure of the UAW and as soon as over 50% of the employees sign up they will have bargaining rights and representation in the plant.  I commend the International Union for thinking outside the box and being willing to reach out to represent those workers.  

Committee Meetings for CAP, Civil Rights, Community Service, and Veterans will tentatively take place on Sunday, August 24th. 
The reason they will have to take place on a Sunday is because that is the only non-mandatory workday and everyone on the committee should be available for the Committee Officer Elections.  Elections for Chairman, Vice-Chairman, Recording Secretary, and any other officers the Committee feels is necessary will take place at that meeting.  After this initial meeting will be up to the Committee to schedule all future meetings. 

In our Community   The primary elections will be coming up next week Tuesday, August 12th. I would encourage all members to take part in our democracy and exercise your right to vote.  It was because of the complacency of the working class people like us that politicians took away most of the collective bargaining rights of public sector employees.  Don’t think for a minute that these same politicians wouldn’t like to take yours away also.  Do your research, see what politicians stand for and how their position will affect you and your family’s lives. We can prepare for our upcoming negotiations, but if our right to bargain is limited with a strike of a pen in Madison or Washington D.C. we will still lose.  Our political leaders are very important to our working family struggles.  Our UAW and AFL-CIO screening committees have screened candidates in respect to our working class needs and have recommended and endorsed the following candidates:  

Governor – Mary Burke Lt. Governor – John Lehman Attorney General – Jon Richards Secretary of State – Doug La Follette  

US HOUSE OF REPRESENATIVES District 1 (Racine and Kenosha) – Rob Zerban District 4 (Milwaukee) – Gwen Moore  

District 21 (most of Racine County except for the City of Racine) – Randy Brice  

District 63 (most of Racine County except for the City of Racine) – Andy Mitchell District 66 (City of Racine) – Cory Mason     
                          **** UNITED WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE ****
                            If we allow the company to divide us we will lose.  

I wish you all a long, healthy, and happy retirement  

The following member retired effective June 1, 2014:
Randall E. "Randy" Ellis
#4157, Dept. 786 - 39.00 Credit Service Years    

The following members retired effective July 1, 2014:
Mark J. Barranco
#3343, Dept. 140 - 39.60 Credit Service Years  
John J. Loomis
#479, Dept. 735 - 34.10 Credit Service Years  
Dennis L. Pennefeather
#987, Dept. 743 - 50.80 Credit Service Years  
Mark S. Smith
#634, Dept. 786 - 39.30 Credit Service Years      

  Our deepest sympathy goes out to the family and friends of our deceased brothers and sisters.  

Thomas E. "Mickey" Barton
Passed away on May 29, 2014 Retired on December 1, 1999 from Dept. 330  

Jose A. Charo, Sr.
Passed away on June 6, 2014 Retired on December 1, 1991 from Dept. 368  

Gaynell Dyess
Passed away on May 31, 2014 Retired on April 1, 1992 from Dept. 987  

Jack L. Eyman
Passed away on June 3, 2014 Retired on March 1, 1994 from Dept. 987  

Milton D. Hall
Passed away on June 7, 2014 Retired on January 1, 1990 from Dept. 788  

Beverly A. Stublaski
Passed away on June 8, 2014 Retired on January 1, 1988 from Dept. 987  

Willie White, Jr.
Passed away on June 3, 2014 Retired on January 1, 1985 from Dept. 368


               January 2014 Local 180 President's Report

                   From the Desk of President Jeff Vassh

Retiree Issues:

Current Retiree Healthcare update
– Our current retirees (those that retired after May 1, 2005) that are Non-Medicare eligible are facing a very large premium increase starting this month.  The issue was taken directly to our Regional Director and the second in command of the UAW on the National level, Dennis Williams, at our CNH Council meeting.  A meeting was held the week of Thanksgiving with the head of CNH Corporate Human Resources and the head of Corporate Benefits.  The Company finally got back to us the week before last and stated that they are going to maintain that their calculations are correct and no adjustments will be made.  The International Union is meeting with their actuaries and legal department and will determine the next move.  Bargaining Chairman Rich Glowacki has a grievance ready for submission if directed. 

Post IPO Retirees Suite Update – The discovery that the retirees assisted in by sending in their information has been submitted.  Briefs will be submitted in late February with rebuttals due sometime after the February time frame.  A hearing will be scheduled upon completion of that process.  The dates for the rebuttals and hearing have not been set by the courts as of yet.  So, this could take awhile and your benefits should remain the same.

Pre-IPO Healthcare Lawsuit Update
– Almost all the class members received their settlement. For the relative few that have not settled to this point, all of the claims have been calculated and sent to the court.  There are some medical service insurance claims that also need to be settled.  There will be no more interim payments.  All claims will be paid at the final lawsuit settlement which may take a couple of months yet.

In the Plant

I’m happy to report that we have added four new skilled trades members
.  Two electricians and two machine repairmen have joined our ranks.  Two more skilled tradesmen have been offered a job, but either have not responded or have not set a start date as of yet.  In addition, an approval to hire ten more assemblers is in process.  With the additional twelve forecast to come in we should have 827 active members in the plant and approximately 40 - 45 on various leaves of absence.

We recently had an All Employee Meeting last Thursday.  It was nice to confirm that we have a slightly higher production schedule than last year.  The schedule along with the new product launches should keep us very busy for at least the first two quarters of this year.  Just remember, a revised schedule comes from Corporate every month so the production numbers could change.  I was at all the “All Employee Meetings” and thought the membership had some great questions and feedback.  I will continue discussing your concerns with our managers.

Our World Class Manufacturing (WCM)
production system audit was held last month.  I would like to thank everyone that participated in it and worked so hard cleaning the shop and presenting on the shop floor.  I spoke directly with the auditor and his assistant and they both stated that our hourly employee presentations were outstanding.  The only thing they followed up with was that we need more hourly members involved.  Congratulation to everyone in the plant for a successful audit.  Our score advanced to 43.  The goal of the plant is to reach 50 by the end of next year.

I have a couple of tickets available for the 32nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
. Commemorative Program that will be held at UAW Local 72 in Kenosha on January 25th.  If you would like to attend please contact me.

Last week it was announced that our State Legislator is working on a bill to make a 7 day workweek.  At this time I don’t know the proposed law in its entirety, but it is an indication that they are still after worker’s rights.  I will say that we as working class people need to get it together and become more active on the political front.  It will do us no good to bargain anything if it can be taken away in the legislative process.

One of our retirees sent this link as a point of interest
.  It is about 4 minutes long and explains the evolution and results of our jobs going overseas.  It’s not high tech and is able to be understood by everyone.  The best part is it shows how we can bring jobs back.  It is not a new message, but it is certainly understated.  I hope you share this with others.  If your browser does not open when you click on the link copy and paste it into your address bar.


Remember this, the more jobs that are created the higher the demand for a workforce and the higher the demand for a workforce the higher the wage and benefit structure will have to be for companies to compete for the workforce.  We win.    

In Solidarity, Jeff Vassh, President, UAW local 180, 262-631-5988

                       UAW Local 180 President’s Report
                    From the Desk of President Jeff Vassh

Please note: the Union Hall will be closed until January 2nd, 2013

Much of this information has been printed in the in plant paper so it may be redundant to the active members.  There is some new information to share, but please realize that I send reports to retirees also.  So if you have heard or read any of this before I ask for your consideration to those that have not.

Retiree Issues:

Current Retiree healthcare update
– After years of reporting on the lawsuits for the Pre-IPO and Post-IPO Retirees it seems rather peculiar for me to start a report with current retiree (those that retired after December 1st of 2004) issues.  As reported previously our current retirees that are NON-Medicare eligible are facing a very large premium increase.  The issue was taken directly to our Regional Director and the second in command of the UAW on the National level, Dennis Williams, at our last CNH Council meeting.  Information is being shared between the Company and Union, and a meeting was held the week of Thanksgiving with the head of CNH Corporate Human Resources and the head of Corporate Benefits.  Another meeting to discuss our concerns and the application of the benefit package is to be held this week.  I will try to let you know the outcome of that meeting if indeed anything gets settled.

Pre-IPO Retiree healthcare lawsuit update
–  The final interim payment of 441claims was approved by the court and sent on to El Paso.  I have received many phone calls informing me that they have received their settlement.  I have also been informed that there will be no additional payments until the suit has been finalized hopefully in the second quarter of next year.

Post-IPO Retiree healthcare lawsuit update – There is nothing new to report.  Preparations are being made to submit the discovery that many of you submitted information for and prepare briefs as it moves forward.  


Election Committee
– Per the UAW Constitution we as a membership have to elect an election committee to run the general elections next year. Nominations will be taken at the January Membership meeting and an election process will take place at the February Meeting.  Those nominated in January will be expected to submit a letter of acceptance or accept at the January meeting.

We finish the year with an active membership of 817
with approximately 30 on various types of leave.  The majority of our new hires are assemblers, and only a handful were hired on the machining side.  Overall, it has been a good year for increasing our membership and growing our union.

Our World Class Manufacturing (WCM)
production system audit was held last week.  I would like to thank everyone that participated in it and worked so hard in presenting on the shop floor.  I spoke directly with the auditor and his assistant and they both stated that our hourly employees presentations were outstanding.  The only thing they followed up with was that we need more hourly members involved.  Congratulation to everyone in the plant.  Our score advanced to 43.  The goal of the plant is to reach 50 by the end of next year.

Union Membership
– I think that the end of the year is a good time for us to review our union membership and what it means.  Many of you are unaware of, or at the least, have not thought about our mission statement for some time so  I would like to share it with you: The objective of Local 180 is to improve the quality of life for its members and their families by assuring that they will be treated with dignity and provided with economic security.  In addition, it is essential to the union’s purpose to assure that workers are afforded the opportunity to master their work environment; to achieve not only improvement in their economic status but of equal importance, to gain from their labors a greater measurement of dignity, self-fulfillment and self worth. This is your Union.  The Company challenges this principle on a regular basis.  Together, whether active or retired we have a responsibility to each other to fulfill our mission.  Independently we will have no dignity or voice in our workplace or our retirement.  Make a New Year’s resolution to become more active in your Union.

UAW National Department:

On the National level our membership stands at approximately 384,000 active members
in approximately 750 local unions and over 600,000 retired members.  Ford is bringing Fusion assembly back to Michigan from Mexico.  The UAW is having organizing success in the south, most recently three independent parts suppliers, and Navistar bus in Oklahoma have been organized.  They are still working on the Nissan and VW campaign.  The International Union is preparing for the Constitutional Convention.  This is where the Leadership of the International Union and our Regional Directors are elected.  It is also where the direction and policies governing the UAW will be set for the next four years.  At the Leadership conference some of the recommendations were discussed.  Among them were the Dennis Williams' nomination to the President’s position and Regional Director Gary Casteel for Financial Secretary Treasurer.  Additional financial decisions will include elimination of a Vice President position and combining Region 1C and 1D.  There is some concern about the level of the strike fund and our ability to challenge major corporations for better contracts.  So they are looking for ways to strengthen that fund, which may include a recommendation to increase dues earmarked specifically for the strike fund.  Strengthening the strike fund is the absolutely right thing to do.  The best way to stop a strike is to show that we are prepared and in a position to pull that trigger if needed.

UAW Agricultural/Implement Conference
Caterpillar’s total membership is approximately 9,000 in seven Local Unions.  Things are slow with the lack of infrastructure improvements and the slow mining industry capital investments.  Disciplinary actions are high.  They are reducing the temporary workers and using weekly temporary layoffs to cover reduced schedules.  Deere total membership is approximately 10,000 at twelve Local Unions.  They too have reduced the temporary workforce and in some locations are implementing single day layoffs.  They report that the turnover rate is especially high among newer hires.  Overall, the Company is working well with them and they maintain a relatively good Company/Union relationship.

On the Regional Level:

Regionally we have a total of 219 Local Unions, broken down as 149 Independent Parts Supplier,  13 Auto, 13 AG, 3 truck, 1 Transnational, 22 Public Sector, 6 heath care, and 12 Individual.  Membership stands at 54,325 up about 3,000 members from last year.  Membership in all states is down except in Illinois.  Illinois has added approx 7,000 jobs. The majority of those are in the auto sector.  Employment at Case was reported as up slightly, Deere was down slightly, and Caterpillar was down significantly.  Independent part supplier sector is up because of auto and the Technical and Office (TOP) sector is steady.  Director McInroy stated that with the newly extended contract at Oshkosh Truck plans for the new military vehicle are going forward and that should secure the jobs there.

V-CAP is the UAW Voluntary Community Action Program
, the political arm of our union that supports our state and national legislators that stand up for the working class people . Overall contributions were up approximately $95,000 to $405,000.  The top three prizes of $10,000, $4,000, and $3,000 were all won in Wisconsin.  In addition, five members in our Local Union won Southeastern CAP Conference prizes.  Those checks have been delivered to the winners.  Thank you for your contribution and good luck again next year. Not only does the voluntary contribution go to a good cause, but for every $2 you contribute you automatically get put into the Southeastern CAP Conference drawings and the Regional drawings for the big bucks. Many of our members give $2 per month just to get a chance (actually 12 chances) at winning in the drawings. If you are not part of V-CAP and would like to be please contact me and I will get you signed up. 

Christmas Donations
– Once again we had a very successful 2012 Christmas Food Basket

In the spirit of the season  

Christmas Donations
– Once again we had a very successful 2013 Christmas Food Basket Drive.             

CNH employees donated:            
$687.00 in food donations (754 pounds)            
$1986.00 in monetary donations             
$2500.00 in corporate donation
For a total donation of $5173.00  

In addition to this, over 300 gifts were given to children and the elderly from the Giving Tree Program, and your Union donated money to the food bank for a program that was started by a previous Vice President of our Union, Kevin Mieczkowski, call “Because Labor Cares.”  Thank you for caring and your continued generosity. 

I also want to give special recognition to our members that helped in our Hot Meal Program.  I was unable to be there this time but I am told that approximately 80 meals were served.  We are signed up for two meals next year with a possibility of an additional Christmas meal.  Just another way your Local Union supports others.

Our Local Union also donated $600 to our two area Veterans hospitals.
  $300 of it went to Christmas with the Vets/Wounded Warriors at the VA Hospital in Milwaukee and $300 to the VA facility in Union Grove.

Last I heard the Company/Union United Way effort was at 92%
of its goal.  So again, thanks to all that contributed to the United Way. Our community will be better for it.

We will probably never see the faces of the families that we touched this Christmas, but know that you are part of something much larger that made the season a little brighter for those that needed it most.

On a personal note:
During the holiday season, my thoughts turn gratefully to those of you that have supported your Union and reached out to help your brothers and sisters on the shop floor and within our community.  You have given from the heart through the many food drives, coat drives, Hot Meal Program, United Way Program, and yes, we asked for blood in blood drives and you gave us that too.  You have demonstrated the spirit of the Christmas throughout the year.   

From my family a Christmas wish for you:

"May you have the gladness of Christmas, which is hope;
the spirit of Christmas, which is peace; and the heart of Christmas, which comes from caring for your fellow man."   We wish you and yours a Merry and Blessed Christmas and a healthy, happy, and prosperous New Year.  

  In Solidarity, Jeff Vassh, President UAW Local 180

     (retired between December 1, 2004 and now)

   From the desk of Local 180 President Jeff Vassh  

Since I sent the last president’s report I have been inundated with calls and emails asking about the current retiree’s healthcare premiums.  Because the open enrollment period is here you need to make a decision on healthcare for 2014 I would like to keep you up-to-date with the information I received.  The UAW National Department in Detroit has this as a priority and data is being shared between the Company and the Union.  The actuaries are conferring with each other to determine the process used in setting the premiums. I have not received anything as far as the validity of the premiums as of yet.  

I would like to share some questions and answers that I received to assist you in making the best possible decision you can when it comes to your healthcare coverage.  

     A. Will the premiums be reduced for those when they turn 65 (the month of, or month after) during the year and go on Medicare? Yes – as retirees and/or their spouses become Medicare eligible during the year – notices are mailed to the retiree and premiums will be reduced effective the same day as the Medicare effective date.    

If a retiree opts out of the CNH healthcare coverage:  

     1. Will the retiree maintain the vision and dental coverage at no cost? Yes - If they want to drop their medical coverage they can either mark “No Coverage” in the medical section of the enrollment worksheet and mail or fax it back to us.  Or they can log on to the enrollment website and elect “No Coverage” for medical and leave the dental and vision elections.  They just need to be sure they do not mark “No Coverage” in the dental and vision sections.  
     2. Can retirees get back on CNH insurance during open enrollment or under a qualifying change of status? Yes – qualified status changes require 30 day notice  
     3. Can retirees still use their RMSA to pay for other premiums and healthcare costs? Yes – they simply have to file claims for reimbursement with American Benefits Group  
     4. Is it possible to request the company contribution to the current healthcare to purchase insurance elsewhere? No  

     5. Can a retiree and spouse choose to cover just the retiree or just the spouse at the single rate?  They can elect single coverage and cover just the retiree – but they cannot elect spouse only coverage.  The retiree must have CNH coverage in order for the spouse to have coverage.  

If you know of Retirees in this group please share this information.  I will continue to share information as I get it.  


             UAW Local 180 President’s Report October 2013
                    From the Desk of President Jeff Vassh  

Retiree Issues

Retirees Healthcare Premiums for current retirees (those that retired on December 1, 2004 or later, this does not apply to Pre-IPO or Post-IPO retirees) -  We have received the health insurance premiums released by the Company for current retired members: In the non-Medicare group premiums have increased up to 275%. 

The notification of premiums are as follows:  

Medical - Non Medicare
(Current) Monthly Premiums 2014 (Next year) Monthly Premiums  
Retiree/Spouse Only  $173.00 to $474.00  
Retiree & Spouse  $344.00 to $949.00  
Retiree & Child(ren)  $321.00 to $851.00  
Family  $424.00 to $1,345.00

Medical - Medicare Eligible
Retiree/Spouse Only  $25.00 to $0.00  
Retiree & Spouse (both Medicare)  $51.00 to $0.00  
Retiree & Spouse - one eligible over 65, one not eligible under 65  $198.00 to $474.00  
Retiree & Child(ren)  $198.00 to $474.00  
Family (Both Medicare)  $51.00 to $0.00  
Family - one eligible over 65, one not eligible under 65  $198.00 to $474.00  

The Union had absolutely no indication that these costs would raise to this level and it really does not make any sense since healthcare cost have risen 5.7% this year.  As soon as I received this notice I contacted the International Union.  They are getting involved and are taking this very seriously.  Last week Bargaining Chairman Rich Glowacki and I met directly with our Regional and National Reps. all the way up to the UAW National Department’s second in command, Dennis Williams, to exchange information.  Dennis Williams has directed the UAW Social Security Dept. (department that deals directly with retiree issues of this kind) to request all the data and calculations from CNH that were used in setting these premiums.  Once the data is received they will review it and relate it to the negotiated agreement to verify it is being applied properly.      I do know one of the reasons cited was that the non-Medicare retirees have reached over 200 participants so they were carved out as a group by themselves for the first time.  Because of this, we have no past history of that specific group so the data will somehow have to be segregated. That will be reviewed for compliance to our agreement also.    I would also advise anyone that is contemplating retirement to consider the premiums you will be expected to pay upon your retirement.  These premiums, for a 30 + year employee, would equal 1/3 to 1/2 of your pension before taxes.  I know most of us would not be able to retire under those conditions.  You should be receiving your annual open enrollment forms within a few days.  I will keep you informed as I get the information back from the International Union.   As a side note:  These premium increases have nothing to do with the Affordable Healthcare Act.  In fact, part of what the National Department will look at, as a test case, is the possibility of our retirees getting health insurance through the Health Care Exchange at a more affordable price.  

Pre-IPO Retiree healthcare lawsuit update – No change from last month.  We are still hoping that the 441 claims submitted September 17th for the interim payment will be received by the end of November.   

Post-IPO Retiree healthcare lawsuit update
– There is nothing new to report since the meeting held on September 12th at UAW Local 72.      

In the Plant
  I have also been informed of the healthcare premiums for the active members.  They are as follows:     2013 (Current)  per Month 2014  per Month Employee Only $105 $111.00 Employee & Spouse $211 $224.00 Employee & Child(ren) $158 $168.00 Family $295 $313.00   These premium increases are in line with the increase in cost of healthcare.  The new premiums will go into effect January of 2014.  You will also be  receiving open enrollment information within the next few days.  I know that any increase in premiums will be difficult for new hires and second tier wage earners.  I can guarantee this will be a very contentious issue during our 2016 negotiations. 

Since my last report we added six new members
.  That brings us to about 851 with approximately 46 on various types of leaves.  Be sure to welcome them and make sure they know their union representatives and safety ambassador.

– Bargaining Chairman Glowacki, Committeeman Craig Olsen, Barb Mendez and I met with Plant Manager Darin Tiedt, Logistic Manager Clark Ezell, HR Rep. Bozena Andric, and HR Manager Melanie Bish to discuss the length of time and scope of the Trinity removal project.  We have had some setbacks because of the 3000 additional parts that the current and near future launches have or will be adding to the system.  We have also had a problem with the amount of time it takes to process the Plan For Every Part.  Both sides are still committed to removing Trinity from our line side delivery.   

– Rich and I met with Darren Tiedt on the corporate production schedule that is updated monthly called PO9.  Our production schedule has not changed since the one he presented at the all employee meeting.  I mentioned that last month the plan was to shutdown Magnum production the three days before Thanksgiving.  That shutdown is still in the schedule.  I continue to caution members on making plans that they cannot change.  This is a tentative shutdown and may very well change.  

WCM interviews for the two Workplace Organization and the Focused Improvement positions were on hold while the plant HR Rep. was out on leave.  Hopefully, now that she has returned we will start the selection process once again.  

WCM Audit
is tentatively scheduled to take place November 7th and 8th.  Our audit score is important in the way that Fiat looks at the facilities with the highest scores as the ones that will give them the greatest return on their investment.  Investment in our plant is a big part of our job security in Racine.  It is in our best interest to put their best foot forward for the audit.  

UAW Health and Safety Training
took place on October 9th and 10th.  This is the training that our Safety Committeeman Tom “Woody” Visintainer and I have been working on for a long time.  Woody and I wanted to retrain all the forklift and tugger operators and give some advance training to those that will be designated as future trainers with a train the trainer class.  As it turned out, the company only scheduled the designated trainers to take the class.  Woody was already scheduled for Skilled Trades Toyoda training and was unable to attend.  The designated trainers, Steve Koshere, and I will be meeting to apply what we learned to develop a better training program for the forklift operators and develop a comprehensive training for the tugger operators.  Those that were involved in the training all thought it was very good and very useful.  I have received positive feedback from the Company also.   Hopefully, we will be able to form a partnership with the International Union staff to be trained properly.  

               **** UNITED WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE ****
                        OUR CHILDREN ARE OUR FUTURE,
                      OUR MEMBERS ARE OUR STRENGTH.

The Walker budget effects on job growth in Wisconsin.
That's not Forward, that's Backwards!

Pre-IPO Retiree healthcare lawsuit update

Kevin and I continue to receive numerous calls with questions concerning tax liability on the reimbursement.  There has been a very interesting twist that developed at the end of last week.  The attorney was able to convince El Paso that the reimbursement should not be reported as “other income” to the IRS, so El Paso will be sending another 1099 that will be blank and no income will be reported.  This is possible because the actual reporting from El Paso to the IRS was supposed to take place electronically at the end of March, so no income was reported and no income will be reported. This will not affect those of you that have had their income tax prepared and did not include this as income.  Unfortunately, those of you that did claim the reimbursement as income should contact your tax preparer for their advice on whether you should file an amended return.  I will agree that this was handled very poorly by El Paso.  I however, am very thankful that Attorney Roger McClow has once again took on El Paso and got this corrected on your behalf.   

Post-IPO Retiree healthcare lawsuit update
– I have not been informed of any new developments. For now the healthcare benefit level remains the same.  

In the Plant
Since my last report we have added 18 new members to our union.  All have been assigned to the assembly area.  We are at approximately 825 active members at this point.  Production remains steady at our current levels and I have not been informed of a change in overall tractor production for this year.  The only thing I’ve been told is that some CVT units will be pulled and replaced with the Power Shift transmission.  The Front Axle Line and CVT Line launch is progressing, but does have some issues to overcome.  I was also informed that specific areas in Cash Crop High (CCH, basically Magnum related)  assembly and associated support  will be scheduled to be on layoff the week of April 1st, returning to work on Monday April 8th.  All of you that are affected by that shutdown have been notified already.  Those that are laid off should apply for state unemployment benefits (even if it is your waiting week) and if you have over one year of seniority and are off for five consecutive days you will be eligible for a Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB), that was negotiated by your union, and paid through the Company.  SUB pay does not affect your state unemployment benefit.  

This brings me to a follow up of an unemployment problem I reported on last month. 
I reported that those of you that were involved in the week layoff before Christmas last year may have received a notice from the state informing you that you had wages for that week and that you would have to repay a portion of your state UC benefit.  As it turns out somehow your SUB was reported as wages.  I tried to work with the company to rectify this issue and company turned it over to their third party administrator who stated they reported it correctly.  The company could have contacted UC directly, but refused stating it is the third party that needs to deal with it.  I assisted in processing one of our members appeals and that appeal was won.  I then worked through our UAW Union International Representative who is on the UC advisory board and he was able to assist us in getting the problem corrected.  As it turns out we had 238 members that received SUB pay.  230 were caught up in Governor Walker’s Act 10 waiting week and did not receive benefits, one appeal was processed successfully through your Local Union as I mentioned previously, and the state will be notifying the other seven of the correction to their UC claim.  If you are one of the seven that were notified that you were overpaid and owe that money back and have not been contacted by the state of the correction please contact me.    I am hopeful this upcoming shutdown will go smoother and have asked the Company to contact the third party payroll administrator with direction to pay special attention as to how they report your SUB benefit to the state.  

Union Trustee Election – Due to the resignation of our Trustee, Jeremy Thornton, we will be scheduling an election to fill that position. I have been in contact with the Election Committee Chairman and we are working on a schedule.  The election committee is totally responsible for this election and once they set up a schedule of events I will pass that information on to you. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Jeremy for his service to our Union.  

- The International Union and members of UAW Local 557 are expressing interest in becoming Amalgamated with our Local Union.  There are currently 17 members of Local 557 and they work at Wisconsin Metal Products.  Your leadership is in the process of gathering as much information as possible on this process and the effects it may have on the two individual memberships.  Any action taken on this issue will have to be approved through both Local Union memberships.  There is nothing more to report on this at this time as this is completely new to our Local Union and we have many more questions than we have answers at this point.  Although this is not an urgent issue, we are cautiously investigating and you should know that there is some discussion taking place in the background.  

– As it turned out, the transition back to UAW line side delivery of Anixter parts has taken much longer and has been more intense then we could have realized.  After a lot of hard work the pilot area for the transition is ready for conversion.  The first area to transition will be the Fargo assembly line.  Our plan is to transition that area starting April 1st.  Another part of the transition is to handle all hot calls through our UAW hot call coordinators. This will also start April 1st.  After all issues have been addressed in the pilot area we then expand incrementally into the rest of the “Red Square” route.  Once that route is running smoothly we will start expanding to the other routes throughout our facility.  This has been a huge task and will ultimately create security for those jobs in the plant.  The success of this WCM project is of the utmost importance to the Union hourly workers in the plant.  We argue consistently that we are the best workforce and are willing to take ownership of our jobs.   This will be the benchmark of what we can accomplish here in Racine Manufacturing Operation using the World Class Manufacturing Production System.  Thanks to all those that worked extremely hard and cooperated with the process to make this successful to this point.  We still have a long way to go and I ask for your continued cooperation and efforts to complete this important task.  

20 Year Cub Banquet
will be held on Saturday, April 27th at Festival Hall. Tickets have been sent to retirees and should have been received by now.  All active employees with a minimum of 20 years of seniority can pick up their ticket in the plant from Debbie Lovedahl or Rodney Andersen at a cost of $10.  The theme this year is, “25 years of Magnum.”  

Membership Activism
- UAW members and nonunion workers rallied at seven plants operated by auto parts maker Flex-N-Gate Corp. on Feb. 13. The demonstrations were held simultaneously in five states, and were organized to shine a light on the company's treatment of workers at its nonunion facilities and in support of workers bargaining for new contracts.  The UAW represents workers at six facilities owned by Flex-N-Gate which is a $3 billion global parts supplier to the automakers including Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors. But workers at several other plants, in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Texas, have been illegally fired or disciplined for attempting to form a union. The nonunion workers are also exposed to life-threatening hazards on the job. In the past eight months, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited and fined the company for dozens of serious safety violations at Flex-N-Gate nonunion operations. Workers want to organize to gain a voice at the table and help make the company more successful. In addition, UAW members at Flex-N-Gate union plants in Warren, MI., and Belvidere, Il., are currently trying to bargain new contracts. At both facilities, workers voted overwhelmingly to strike if necessary to achieve a fair contract. District 5 Bargaining Committeeman Ken Hartog, Bargaining Committee Chairman Rich Glowacki and I attended the rally in Belvidere, Illinois Flex-N-Gate plant.  We were the only UAW Local to participate in the rally from Wisconsin.  We were proud to represent our Local Union and Wisconsin in support of those workers that are fighting to raise their standards and take better care of the their families.  This is what is necessary for us to maintain and possibly advance our own standards, because as long as there are people making less than you in your community, and society as a whole, they will want your job and be willing to replace you.  We as middle class or lower middle class workers need to support and participate in activities such as this not only to help others, but to ultimately raise our standards as well.  You need to be active. I am going to create a email distribution list of active and retired members that want to get more active in the cause.  If you would like to be on that list please email me at president@uawlocal180.com and I will keep you posted on support activities. The next thing that may come up for us is supporting our UAW brother and sisters at Master Lock.  They are currently in collective bargaining negotiations and are preparing to take a stand as the bargaining sessions are not going well.  Many union members picketed with us during our strike/lockout in 2004 and 2005 and now it is our turn to support them.  I will be in touch if we are called upon to support our brothers and sisters on the picket line at Master Lock. 

How you vote is a personal decision to be infringed upon by no one.  However many times it is difficult as an individual to follow the issues that affect us and the candidate’s position on the issues.  For this reason the UAW has established a Community Action Program Committee who actually screens candidates and shares their recommendation with the membership based on our working-class concerns and support for us.   

UAW endorsements for the April 2nd elections are as follows:
In the election for Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice.
The Wisconsin State UAW CAP Executive Board has endorsed Ed Fallone because of his commitment to stand up for working families. The Wisconsin Supreme Court has the final say in key issues like voting rights, redistricting rules, Act 10 challenges and more! Corporate contributors, many from out of state, have bought a 4-3 conservative majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court which has become extremely dysfunctional and highly partisan. Ed Fallone will restore integrity to the court because he is independent and will base his decisions on the law, not serve large corporate interests to insure their continued contributions.

Fallone’s qualifications are impressive
• Associate Professor at Marquette University Law School
• Expert in Constitutional, Corporate and Criminal Law
• Graduated magna cum laude from Boston University School of Law
• Law practice spanning 24 years in both federal and state courts
• Represented clients in complex corporate litigation and shareholder lawsuits
• Served on the Steering Committee of Catholic Charities Legal Services for Immigrants and on the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities of the Milwaukee Archdiocese
• Involved in nonprofit organizations increasing access to justice for those who have difficulties using the legal system In addition.

The UAW is endorsing:
Tony Evers for State Superintendent of Public Instruction
, because of his commitment to our Public Education System.
Racine School Board
– Mike Fontier, Julie McKenna, Chris Eperjesy
Racine Aldermanic
– 1st District – Keith Fair 3rd District – Mike Shields
Kenosha Unified School District
– Sam Leibert, and Kyle Flood

Turnout is expected to be low this Tuesday so remind all your friends and family to get out and cast their ballot.  Please remember to vote on Tuesday, April 2nd, Last of all, I would like to wish you and yours a happy and blessed Easter.  Enjoy your Union negotiated Good Friday paid holiday.
          ***** UNITED WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE ******