I am pleased to let you all know that as of May 2, 2019, UAW Local 659 has gained another amalgamated unit in Lear Corporation Flint. I am thankful for the trust of our Region 1-D Director Gerald Kariem to allow UAW Local 659 this opportunity. On May 1, 2019, a group, including Region 1-D Servicing Rep. Scott Zuckschwerdt, Financial Secretary Duane Ballard, Recording Secretary Kim Jones, Trustees Anthony Davis and Courtney Patterson, Sergeant-At-Arms Michele Gregory, Union Reps. from Lear Jeff Brown and Matt Heffner, and I did a UAW Membership drive at the Lear Corporation location in Flint. The employees there were happy to see us and some said, "We've been waiting for you folks." On Thursday, May 2nd, the results of their membership sign-up cards were verified by a third party, in this case Sheriff Robert Pickell, and the accept rate was 92%. I cannot thank everyone who helped out with this drive enough. The magnitude of UAW Local 659 receiving a 10th unit with 500+ members is astounding. We welcome our new Brothers and Sisters from Lear and are planning an Open House/Education Program for the second week in June. We plan on having a cookout and doing some Union/659 history, along with information needed as we move forward with establishing a new unit. I am writing this while attending the UAW Sub-Council for GM locations. On the first day of the conference, we have gone through four books of resolutions with good debate on many of them. I can assure you, there has not been any stone left unturned from profit sharing, temp workers, retirees, to GMS. Our Brothers' and Sisters' voices have been heard loud and clear. For the first time ever, the International Leadership came into each Sub-Council meeting and personally asked each person for their input. It was very refreshing to see the direction we are heading under the leadership of IUAW President Gary Jones and IUAW GM Dept. Vice President Terry Dittes. I hope we all understand what Solidarity means when, and if, we should go on strike in September. On a more somber note, I would like to posthumously thank Gordon Andrews. Gordon was a great Union Brother. He served as chairman at the V-8 Plant and several other offices, including working as an International Rep for 10 years. Gordon provided a huge push in getting the new plant product allocation to follow. Gordon passed away March 28th, and I would like to take a moment to thank him for his dedication and thank his family for the time they let us borrow him. Until next time, everyone continue to be our Brothers' and Sisters' keepers for it just takes that one moment for someone to get hurt. As the weather gets warmer (hopefully), take a moment to look twice for motorcycles on the road. May you all have a safe and happy Memorial Day Weekend and remember why we celebrate this day.
Well, spring is upon us, I think, but Mother Nature just keeps us guessing in Michigan. I have some great information for this Local, as I have been notified that UAW Local 659 will have an opportunity to take part in an organizing drive in our area that may allow us to gain approximately 600+ new members. I cannot share exact details at this time, but will keep the lines of communication flowing as we are able to release more information. I was able to take a Strike Information Class at the recent Financial Officers Conference, and I would like to share some of that information with our members. We learned that 78% of our very own Union Members are living paycheck to paycheck. While this figure is startling, it makes me think what the figure is for people who do not have a Union. The Officers at the Union Hall have a very large amount of work to do to get ready for a strike that may or may not happen. Either way, the work must get done. We are currently planning on setting up a food pantry here at the Hall. With that 78% figure, we believe it will be able to serve our members should we go on strike. I know our Financial Secretary has asked several times in the past, but I ask you to look at your check stubs and make sure Union dues are being taken out. If we should happen to go on strike, your dues must be current in order to receive strike pay, health insurance, and basic life insurance from the strike fund. The UAW Local 659 Recreation Committee recently held the Annual Easter Egg Hunt here at the Union Hall. We had over 300 children attend to hunt for eggs, eat lunch, and get their picture taken with the Easter Bunny. Thank you to all who attended, and to the members of our Recreation Committee for putting on such a fantastic event. Special thanks goes out to our very own Trustee Courtney Patterson, who was the Easter Bunny's Special Assistant, keeping all the kids happy. While on the Easter subject, I would like to let our Retirees know how much I appreciate seeing and interacting with them during their Retiree Easter Dinners. It was brought to my attention that I had not been spending as much time as I had in the past with the Retirees and I will work on improving that. In closing, I would hope that you all enjoyed your negotiated time off for the Easter Holiday and spent time enjoying your families. Take a moment to do something nice for someone, whether it is just opening a door, giving a smile, or having a conversation. You will never know how much it may mean to someone who really needs it at that time. Until next time, remember, "You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only option you have."
I am writing this article while I am attending the Bargaining Convention in Detroit. I cannot thank the membership enough for this opportunity to represent them at this convention. As we reach the end of the second day of three, there is a feeling of Solidarity among the delegates that I have never seen before in my time in the UAW. I am pleased to announce the strike pay was increased from $200 to $250 a week immediately, and will attain $275 a week as of January 2020. The strike fund currently sits at $767 million, which means we will continue to pay 2.5 hours dues until the point that the strike fund reaches $850 million. At that point, the dues will revert back to 2.0 hours dues. The dues rate of 2.0 hours will remain until the strike fund lowers to a balance of $650 million, at which point the dues rate will return to the 2.5 hours range. UAW retirees from our Region attended the convention on the first day to remind all of the delegates to not forget them when negotiations start. As most of you know, it is not legal for the UAW to force GM to negotiate for the retirees. However, in the past, we have been able to receive gains for them. The leadership of the Union has promised to put their best foot forward in trying to receive some type of gains for our retirees. At our most recent monthly Joint Council meeting, I read the Bylaws of our Local and Administrative letter concerning responsibilities of Internationally appointed members. I have said this before and will say it again. If you are an elected or appointed official or representative (either Locally or Internationally), you are required to attend 2 of 3 Joint Council meetings per quarter. If you do not attend these meetings, you will be removed from your position. I have spent months talking about this subject and have put the blame on myself in the past, due to the expectations not being clear on meeting attendance. They are now crystal clear and will be enforced moving forward. If you are in an elected or appointed position and feel the need to post political media that does not follow the lines of who the UAW supports on your Facebook pages, you will be removed from your position. I personally do not want to know or care who you choose to vote for or support. However, if you feel the need to advertise your candidate/beliefs, then also know you can/will be removed from your position in the Union per the administrative letter. This may seem harsh to some of you, but please think about what we may have in front of us. If we should happen to strike in October, we will need all of our Committeebodies and all of our elected and appointed members to serve in leadership positions during the strike. I will be attending a strike preparation class in the next few weeks to better prepare this Local and our members. I will be sure to update you as we move forward. Thank you to all of our members who came out to support the Red Wings Trip, Bowling Tournament, and especially the Black History Celebration. I would like to remind everyone that the Black History Celebration is open to everyone, and believe the only way to stomp out racism is to spend time with one another. There is no greater moment to get to know someone than breaking bread together. In closing, I would like to invite everyone to attend the Annual Easter Egg Hunt taking place at the Hall on Sunday, April 7th from 1:00-3:00 pm. As we attain warmer temperatures, keep in mind to start getting your lawn equipment serviced and ready to go. In no time, we will be getting complaining about mowing grass instead of shoveling snow.
The 82nd Annual Sitdowners Celebration took place at UAW Local 659 on February 11th. I would like to thank all of the members who attended this auspicious event that is the backbone of the labor movement. Unfortunately, all of the original Sitdowners and Women's Emergency Brigade members have passed on to their eternal rest. It is important that we celebrate this pivotal point in history, so that we may honor their memory yet also rekindle the fires of Solidarity in our Union today. It is important that we are able to communicate the relevancy of the Union in the past and even more importantly its relevancy today. In the spirit of Solidarity and communication, we are making the March 10th Joint Council Meeting mandatory for all elected, appointed and Doc. 46 members. As I have stated before, it is in our 659 bylaws and the Constitution that you must attend two of three meetings per quarter. We also need to get our lists updated properly for the upcoming contract negotiations. February is Black History Month and once again our Black History Committee has a fantastic event planned on February 24th at UAW Local 659, from 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm. The Celebration of Black Entrepreneurs is free for everyone, due to the hard work the committee puts in throughout the year doing the Polish dog sales. I would like to encourage everyone to attend and learn a little about other people's culture and enjoy an afternoon among your Union Brothers and Sisters. We have a few other events upcoming at the Local. The Annual 659 Bowling Tournament will be held on March 3rd at Galaxy Lanes, and the Annual Easter Egg Hunt for the children will take place on Sunday, April 7th. More information can be found in this issue of the Searchlight. I would like to caution all of our members about the usage of social media. Many things you say can and will be used against you by members of management. If you post it on Facebook, whether it is on your personal page or not, it does not matter. I know most of us use social media to keep up with friends and family, but for too many it turns into a place where many think they can post whatever they feel like at the time. The comments you make about people, once posted online, are out there forever. In my opinion, maybe time should be taken before you post a comment to think, "would I say this to this person in a conversation face to face." If you make a statement, own it. But also be responsible enough to own the consequences or actions that come with it through your own doing. For those of you who may have questions about me, please just call or visit the Hall and have a conversation. Let me clear up a few misconceptions that I have seen out there on Facebook. I do write my own articles for the Searchlight and they are edited for punctuation and grammar by me, the Publicity Committee and Rockman Publishing. If you refer to someone who is elected to run the Local as ignorant, don't vote for this person or maybe decide to attend your Union meeting to see how things work. If we allow ourselves, as Union Members, to be separated due to social media then management has already won the first battle. We cannot continue to have infighting among our members and survive. Until next time, please take a moment to help someone in need. Need can come in many forms, such as just taking the time to listen, shoveling a sidewalk, or just taking someone a coffee just because. It will make you feel good and make them feel even better.
Welcome to 2019. I hope you and your family enjoyed the Holidays. I would like to wish a happy and prosperous new year to each and every one of you. We have a busy and trying year ahead of us all, as we swing into February with the 82nd Annual White Shirt Day Celebration being held at UAW Local 659 on Monday, February 11th at 11:00 am. I would invite you all to attend this event celebrating the origin of our Union as we know it. I would like to take a moment to speak on the word Solidarity and what it means in our Union today. It seems many of our members have become complacent as to what it means, as I have had several reports of members going to management to tell on their fellow Brothers and Sisters. Our members continue to work overtime when we have members who are layed off. In the last recent presidential election, 41% of UAW members voted for a candidate who in no way supported unions. It seems to me that many have adopted the philosophy of "it's all about me." Well, let me tell you something. As much as some of you want to pay your dues and do what you want, you will not be thinking the same way if we happen to go on strike in October. If and when we walk that picket line, don't think that your Brothers and Sisters won't remember your behavior and actions. We have an issue in our Union, just like many organizations, in that people are proud to take the credit for "being a good Union member." However, when it comes to putting in the work, these same people are nowhere to be found. We have members who win elected positions or are in locally appointed positions who don't show up for monthly meetings. Please be aware that it is a new year and with that brings changes. Our Constitution and Bylaws will be enforced. If that means removing people from their positions, then so be it. No one is perfect, but we all can do a better job following protocols that have been in place for years. I look forward to helping, mentoring, educating or whatever it may be to continue to make this Local the greatest in the UAW, and am proud to represent you all as your President. On February 21, the Local will be having it's first ever United Sportsman Alliance conservation dinner at Local 659. More information can be found on page 8 of the Searchlight or under the Upcoming Events tab. February is Black History Month, and once again our Black History Committee is hosting their Annual Celebration complete with a free meal on February 24th at 2:00 pm at Local 659. This event is very educational and inspirational, and I cannot express the thanks I have for the work our Black History Committee does to put it on year after year. In closing, your Officers at the Hall are continuing to work on a better system of communication to the membership, and we welcome your feedback as to how best to get you all the information you need. As the temperatures have been dropping, please take a moment to make sure your animals and pets have the items they need to stay safe, as most of us consider them family members.
Brothers and Sisters, As 2018 comes to a close, I want to take a moment to reflect on the many happenings that have taken place throughout the year. We have had an extremely busy 2018, and it appears 2019 will be even busier. In the past year, we have had many projects at the Hall, including new walls on the south side of the Hall and Auditorium, new lighting inside and out, a new metal roof installed on the pavilion, a new digital sign, and many other small improvements that will not only help keep operating costs down, but will allow our members to be proud of their Union Hall. Our members worked hard on the recent elections in November. Our members are always the first to give to our community in order to make someone's life a little easier. We have several charities that have benefited by partnering with UAW Local 659; such as United Way, Veterans, Old Newsboys, Toys for Tots, Lions Club, Crossover Outreach, the UAW/United Way Ramp Program, the Retiree Women's Committee Thanksgiving food box giveaway and many more. The Local has had many events for our members and their families throughout the past year also. The Black History Celebration is second to none, the Easter Egg Hunt, Irish Extravaganza, Trunk or Treat, Red Wings game, and Christmas for the Kids are unparalleled. The above is just a small portion of what UAW members do, and I cannot thank you enough. Whether you volunteer, help, attend, vote, give, advise, or mentor, you are the UAW and what we do as members seems to easily be forgotten when the news portrays us as greedy, lazy UAW workers. The UAW was founded on workers' rights and fighting social injustice, and our members of UAW Local 659 are steadfast in their support of those beliefs. I cannot tell you how proud I am of the direction this Local is heading and the support the Officers have received. Now, I also realize that everything is not rainbows and unicorns and we still have a lot of work to do. I believe that with the announcements of the recent plant closings and the ridiculous disciplinary actions in the plants, GM is already posturing for the upcoming contract talks. I have the utmost faith in our new UAW Vice-President, Terry Dittes. I have had the opportunity to have several conversations with him and I can tell you he is fighting for us. Terry is from the old school Union, but completely understands the new terms, such as Global economies. I would be remiss if I did not mention the possibility of a strike occurring next October, so I ask that our members put a little extra away in their savings account. Strike pay is $200 a week and if we happen to go on strike, we are already working on contingencies with local financial institutions that would support a suspension of certain payments during a strike to support our members. I have to take a moment to thank my Officers and Staff here at the Hall for their help and support throughout the last year. I could not ask for a better group to work with. I would like to thank Region 1-D Director, Gerald Kariem, Assistant Director, Steve Dawes, and their staff for their support and help over the past twelve months. Thank you to our Chairpersons and their respective committee bodies, our Local Executive Board, Unit Boards, Retiree Board, and Joint Council Members for taking the chance to put your name on a ballot and doing the great job you do. The biggest thank you goes out to my wife, Denise, and my family. You all understand how important the job I was elected to by this great membership is to me. Whether it is on the phone with a member at 11:00 at night, or taking time away on weekends or evenings for events, or late hours here at the Hall, I could not do it without their understanding and support. Until next time, I would like to wish everyone a blessed Merry Christmas and a happy and safe New Year, and ask that you take a moment to realize how blessed we really are to be UAW members. There are many people who don't have food to eat, don't have a place to call home or a family that cares. As Union Members, we have all of these.
I would first like to thank everyone who took the time to vote on November 6th. The results of the election look very favorable for the middle class and union members. We now have a Governor who has stated she will repeal "Right to Work (for less)" and the Retirees Pension Tax. I cannot personally thank everyone who came out to distribute literature, deliver election signs, work the polls, or made phone calls, but I can tell you it was noticed and appreciated. As Union Members, we must not forget the issues at hand in this election and we all must hold our elected politicians accountable. I am held accountable for the office I was elected to by the membership, and we must stand up and hold the politicians we elected accountable for the decisions we make. As we approach the end of 2018, we have many events coming up. December 2nd will be the Annual Christmas with Santa and our General Membership meeting on December 9th, in which we encourage all members to bring a new unwrapped toy to the meeting for the "Toys for Tots" program. The annual Old Newsboys Paper sale will take place on corners throughout the county on December 14th, so please be aware as you are driving on this day. Donna, our Administrative Assistant at the Hall, has Old Newsboys buttons for sale for $20 each. For every button purchased, it guarantees a child in the community is able to have a new outfit, toy and toiletries for Christmas. It has been inherently busy at the Union Hall these past few months, and looks like it will get even busier into 2019. There are several upcoming conferences, including an IPS/TOP SubCouncil, a GM Bargaining Conference, a GM Sub-Council, the Financial Conference and a Joint UAW/GM Health & Safety Conference that our associated members will be attending. It seems that winter is already upon us with the recent cold and snow. I would like to wish everyone who is going south or west for the winter safe travels. If you could, send us some warmth and sunshine from wherever your journey takes you. My father, who winters in Florida, likes to call me once or twice a week to find out how cold it is here and let me know exactly how warm it is there! Until next time, please slow down a bit and give yourself enough time to stop during the upcoming Thanksgiving Holiday, and remember those who are not with us any longer.
It seems that summer has left us quite rapidly. My how time flies, as we are just weeks away from the mid-term elections and Thanksgiving. Another school season has ended at Black Lake and I would like to thank all of our members who attended either Summer or Fall schools. The reports I hear from the instructors and leadership have been very positive towards our members. Our members were not only respected for their behavior, but for the questions and opinions given when asked. I recently attended the GM Subcouncil in Detroit at the start of October. The opening day of the Subcouncil was for Presidents and Chairpersons from GM, FCA and Ford. We were addressed by the entire Executive Board of the IUAW and were able to give feedback on the issues we are having in the plants. The second day was a GM Subcouncil where the Presidents, Chairs and Delegates engaged in the democratic process to elect Negotiators for the upcoming National Agreement. I am proud to say Region 1-D and UAW Local 659 are well represented as Metal Fab Chairman Ed Smith was elected Top Negotiator for Sub Council #4 (Stamping) and NAETC Chairman Willie Wallace was elected Alternate Top Negotiator for Sub Council #5 (Skilled Trades). Overall, Region 1-D has 6 members of 23 who sit on various positions on negotiating boards. Congratulations to Ed and Willie. I am sure they will represent Local 659 and Flint with pride. We have an important holiday coming up November 12th, known as Veterans Day. Please take a moment to thank a Veteran for their service. It takes a special type of courage and bravery to sign up for military service, as the thought of being at war is always in the back of their mind. Our Veterans took the bull by the horns to fight for the freedoms we enjoy every day in this country we call the United States. Some gave their lives, some are permanently disabled, some suffer daily from the effects of PTSD. An alarming statistic within the ranks of our Veterans is that 20% of the people who fought to keep us free commit suicide daily. This is absolutely unacceptable and we need to do whatever we can, as Union members, to thwart this issue. Take a moment to thank a Veteran, ask them how they are doing. If you know a Vet, check in on them from time to time so we can curb this absurd number of Veteran suicides happening daily. October is our Breast Cancer Awareness Month to bring forward the effects of this nasty disease. I recently took part in the Making Strides for Cancer Walk in downtown Flint on October 13th. I have not found anyone who does not know someone who has suffered from this horrible disease. My wife is a breast cancer survivor and my step-mother just had surgery for the same. I can only plead with our members to do the self-checks and, if you find anything out of the ordinary, follow up with your doctor. This disease doesn't just prey on women. So, men, don't be too proud to do the self-checks. The key to surviving any cancer is early detection. Cancer is not the "diagnosis of death," like it has been in the past. There are many new treatments out that are destroying cancer and allowing the survivors to lead healthy, happy lives. In conclusion, I cannot tell you how important November 6th will be to the future. We all hear "this is the most important election in your life," but the past few have been. We have information at the Hall on UAW-endorsed candidates and explanations of the Proposals. We have various campaign signs and phone banking going on at the Hall also. In the last election, 41% of our UAW members voted for Republican candidates. I cannot express how important it is to not only vote but to vote for candidates who support UAW members and the middle class. To quote our great labor leader Walter Reuther, "There's a direct relationship between the ballot box and the bread box," and it is more evident today than it was even back in 1936-37. Remember, it is the season to change your furnace filters, clean chimneys and check your smoke detectors' operation to keep you and your family safe during the fall and winter seasons.
I hope you all enjoyed the last big weekend of summer and Labor Day. I would like to take a moment to thank the members and retirees of UAW Local 659 for their attendance at the Annual Labor Day Celebration at Region 1-D in Flint. Our Local had by far the highest number of members at the event, and I can tell you it was noticed by the leadership of the Region. I cannot express in words how proud it makes me to be able to interact with our Brothers and Sisters while attending these types of events and that so many members made it a point to attend. We have recently been notified that the sanitation divisions who are covered under their own National Agreement have a tentative agreement on a new five-year deal. The contract will have to be rolled out and voted on by nine different Union-represented companies throughout the United States. We will be starting with JLL/Eurest/Team Solutions with the meetings and voting happening here at the Hall. Meetings have been scheduled, but will take place between the date of writing and publishing of this article. More to come on the results. Our Aramark-represented units will be scheduling meetings following shortly after the JLL rollout and vote on which will come first. We are once again supporting our UAW Local 659 Retiree Women's Committee in their efforts to supply the community with food baskets for those in need during the Thanksgiving holiday. I will be purchasing gas cards as an incentive to bring any of the items listed below to our October and November meetings. If you bring any of these items or make a cash donation, you will receive a ticket at the meeting for your chance to win one of the gas cards. So, let's do what Union Members do and support this great cause. The items needed are as follows: canned corn (whole kernel), canned green beans, cranberry sauce (canned), stuffing (boxed), mac-n-cheese (boxed), cake mix (boxed), cake frosting (canned). All of these items only cost a couple of dollars each or less, so let's all get in the Holiday spirit early and bring one or more of these items to the Joint Council meetings in October or November for your chance to win a $25 gas card. As always, cash donations will be accepted and I thank you in advance for your support of this great endeavor. We have many events coming up in the near future for our Members and families. Saturday, October 27, from 12-2 pm will be the 2nd Annual Trunk or Treat at the Local. We still have discounted Ren Fest tickets available until the last weekend of September. UAW Night at the Red Wings has been scheduled for Sunday, February 17th, 2019. More information can be found in the "Upcoming Events" tab. Until next time, remember it's that time of year again, time to replace your furnace filters and smoke alarm batteries to keep you and your family safe and secure.
I am writing this article 200 miles away from home, at the Walter and May Reuther UAW Black Lake Education Center, as I have been given the opportunity to teach by our Director Gerald Kariem. I never thought about teaching Union principles to my Brothers and Sisters, but I must say I am thoroughly enjoying it. As I walk around the Center, meeting people from Region 1-D, I cannot help but get reenergized on why we do what we do. I have also had time to reflect on where we have been, where we are now, and where we are going as a Union. The forethought that Walter must have had in order to put together this auspicious location for Union education and the fact that it is still here some 50 years later is just incredible. The quotes that Walter has given us such as, "from the ballot box to the bread box" and "There is no greater calling than to help your fellow man" still ring true today. As I reflect on this history, I can't but help wonder what Walter would think of our Union today. How can we get members interested in coming to Union meetings and participating? Have we gotten to the point that the members have just checked out and don't have an interest in reading the contract? Do we, as members, just vote for our politicians and not hold them accountable for what they do? Have we come to terms with the philosophy that we'll just let the other person do it because I don't have time? It is a conscious choice to "not do" for whatever excuse fits the situation at that particular time. Our 659 membership meetings are always on the second Sunday of the month for a few hours, but we cannot seem to get even one percent of our members who are not elected or appointed to them. The UAW was built on the premise of democracy and you have voice and vote, but many choose not to exercise this option. One of you may be the next Walter Reuther. It just takes that spark. We start our meetings back up in September and I would ask that you all start attending regularly. I plan on adding an educational part of the meetings to go over contract/constitution language explanations to get everyone going in the same direction. We also have a Union Holiday coming up that will be celebrated on Labor Day at the Regional Office at 10:30 am. I would like to personally invite you all to attend and enjoy a day of Solidarity followed by breaking bread with your Brothers and Sisters. I have to ask a last question of you. What are you prepared to do for your union? Take a moment to reflect on what you can do to help your Brother and Sister standing next to you on the line or laid off. Does it mean covering them so they can use the restroom or turning down overtime so we can get them back to work? This isn't a rant. It is just a reflection on where we are now at. YOU ARE THE UNION! Without each and every one of you, we do not have a Union. In closing, please enjoy your Union negotiated vacation time/holiday time with your families, as none of us know how much time we have.
I hope you all enjoyed some time off with your families for the Fourth of July Holiday. The weather was some of the hottest we have seen in a while. As we move forward from the Constitutional Convention and the installation of the new IUAW Officers, we have received notice that the LEADS program has been terminated and the GMS Program has been put on hold per further investigation. Our new UAW/GM Vice President, Terry Dittes, recently hosted a conference call in which he explained the GMS issue a little more in depth. VP Dittes stated we will keep using GMS at its current level, but any new issues arising will be taken on a case by case basis. He noted in the call, the lack of respect for our UAW Members, paragraph 109 issues (excused for Union Business), trades issues, and Temp workers. I can't tell you everything that was covered, but I can say I am very refreshed by the demeanor and issues that were covered by VP Dittes. I assure you, VP Dittes has the right issues at the forefront as we move towards bargaining the next UAW/GM National Agreement. I am hopeful that with the new leadership our Brothers and Sisters who are/were laid off from Flint Engine, and most recently, Flint Metal Center will be returning to work very soon. We have many events coming up for our Members and families. We have partnered with Dorsey Schools Saginaw Campus to offer a CPR/AED course on August 7th from 11:00 - 2:00 pm at the Hall for free. The class is limited to 24 participants and you will need to reserve your spot. We are scheduling a United Sportsman's Alliance Dinner for some time in February. The Hall will have discounted adult and children's tickets for the 2018 Michigan RenFest in Holly. Tickets should be in the office by July 30th. It looks like we will not be having a Detroit Tigers Trip this year, due to scheduling conflicts, but I am currently working on a date for the Red Wings Trip. The 12th Annual UAW/United Way Cruzin for the Ramp Program took place on Saturday, July 21 at the Local and Auto City Speedway. Thank you to our members who participated and volunteered. The weather kept many of the cars away, but those who came out had a great time. The phones at the Hall were down from June 21 to July 18 thanks to an unnamed service provider who, just like many businesses, subcontracts their work out. I would like to apologize for this happening and assure you the staff and Officers were at the Hall working diligently to solve this and many other issues. As a backstory to this issue, we no longer have service from the above unmentioned company and with the switch to a new phone system and service we have saved the Hall $70 a month. I am still working to recover the cost of our maintenance agreement, but am confident we will receive it. It is a small amount saved, but many small amounts keep adding up. I would like to thank all of you for the congratulations and kind words on the birth of my second grandson, Hendrix. He and his mother are doing great and I am looking forward to the day my wife and I can take the boys out for playtime, sugar, and then send them home to their parents. In closing, please remember to get our and vote in the Primary Election on August 7. In the last primary only 17% of registered voters went to the polls. You might not think it makes a difference, but the Primary Elections determine who you will be represented by in November. A list of UAW CAP endorsed candidates is available at the Hall. If you have any questions, please contact the Hall.
As I write this, I am attending the 37th Constitutional Convention in Detroit. There are many hard decisions your elected delegates are having to debate and decide on. There have been great discussions on "one man, one vote," raises for the IUAW Officers and Reps., and for the election of new officers. I want to take a moment to thank everyone who took the time to run for these positions, whether they won or not. They put themselves out there and became involved. I am so proud of the Delegates at the Convention, not only for the ability to make the hard decisions but for their professional behavior. I would like to wish all the fathers out there a Happy Father's Day. Many of you are the silent, strong rock for your families and many times do not receive the recognition you deserve. You are noticed, loved, and appreciated. I would like to thank my father for all of the love, guidance, and discipline that was given to teach me how to be a good man. The Region 1-D Black Lake Summer and Fall schools will be taking place in the months of August and September, respectively. If an active member is interested in attending, please speak with your Chairperson or your Committeeperson for more information. UAW Local 659 has a limited number of delegates for both sessions and recently elected officials will need a few spots for training. The 18th Annual Chipping for Children will be taking place on Saturday, August 18, 2018. The 12th Annual UAW/United Way Cruzin' for the Ramp Program will take place on July 21st. More information on both events can be found under the "Upcoming Events" tab on this website. We will be offering Michigan Renaissance Festival tickets at a discounted rate at the Union Hall again this year. Please call the Hall to check availability before you come over. Tickets are scheduled to be in the building by mid-July. We are continuing to work on the Hall to make our members proud. The sign is up and running, with the covers to be finished by our tradespeople within the next few weeks, and we are looking at some lighting upgrades inside and out. Several of our units are facing great challenges with manpower adjustments and scheduling issues. We are working on viable solutions with the respective committeebodies to not only do right by our members but have solutions put into place that will last. Until next time, take some time to enjoy your summer vacation time with your family. Also, I would like to let you all know my second grandson (Hendrix) should get here by the time I write my next article. Thank you for all your well wishes.
As I reflect on the changes in the past year at the Hall and with our members, I can only thank our membership for their support and effort. We have had several challenges over the past several months and will encounter many more as we move forward to contract negotiations. I would like to wish our laid-off members who will be temporarily assigned to Lansing and Flint Assembly a healthy good luck. Hopefully, in a short period of time, you will be back home at 659. I recently held a meeting with our newly elected Constitutional Convention Delegates and Alternates to communicate some of the issues we will be dealing with at this convention and to answer their concerns. I believe this is the first time this has been done in this Local, but my hope is we will all attend the convention as "one team," and I am sure those elected will represent UAW Local 659 with the utmost respect and honor for their elected positions. We are wrapping up many projects here at the Hall that will keep it in good shape for many decades to come. The south side wall project is finished with just trim work to do, and we have also installed new carpet in several of the offices. As I write this article, we have contractors on the pavilion roof doing a tear off, replacing rotted sheeting and installing a new metal roof. The new digital sign boards are mounted and working, while we wait for the covers to be finished by UAW Local 659 trades people from NAETC. I cannot thank the membership and retirees enough for their support in the taking on of these projects and the leadership for their support. The Joint Council and Unit Meetings have been suspended for the summer months, as we hope everyone takes advantage of their Union-negotiated vacation time to spend with their families. Until Next Time, be safe in your travels, enjoy the summer sunshine, and take a moment to remember what Memorial Day means to this great country.
I recently received the Nick Vuckovich Award for Community Service at the Annual United Way Campaign Celebration Dinner at Factory One, and would like to thank the members and retirees of UAW Local 659. While I was the recipient of the award, I cannot accept it without thanking all of our membership for the things they do every day and never receive any awards for their actions. I have said before Community Service is in our DNA as Union members, and each one of you should share this award. Thank you to the United Way Board, Region 1-D Director Gerald Kariem and Assistant Region 1-D Director Steve Dawes for your belief that I am worthy of this prestigious award and for your leadership, fellowship, and friendship. Theresa McGinnis, UAW/United Way Liaison, thank you for all you do. Even when you call me at all times of the day and night, you know I will always do what I can to help. I hope everyone enjoyed this past Easter Holiday with their families. Even though the weather did not want to cooperate, we had a stellar turnout for the Local's Easter Egg Hunt. Our very own 659 Recreation Committee, led by Tony Redmond, did a fantastic job keeping things moving along and making sure all the children received their eggs, lunch and photos with the Easter Bunny. The repairs at the Union Hall are finishing up, with new walls and windows on the south side and new walls on the south side auditorium. The Hall is really taking shape and showing pride in ownership for our members. The electrical work for the new sign is done and the sign boards should be installed by the time you are reading this. I invite you all to stop by the Hall and see the changes that have been made and would like to hear your feedback. We are looking at reroofing the pavilion with steel roofing before the end of June, and will then set our sights on redoing the restrooms to make them more handicap accessible. The Team at the Union Hall will look to continue repairing/replacing issues at the Hall in a fiscally responsible manner, all of which will be voted on by the Membership, to bring this facility back to the gem it once was. Until next time, it looks as though Mother Nature is done being mad at Michigan and the weather might break soon. Get outside and enjoy some sunshine, but be careful as it is too easy to forget how wet the ground is or that tree branches may have come loose during the winter just waiting to fall on you. As we warm up here, keep an eye out for motorcycles on the roads. With the sun coming out, I have seen drivers not paying attention, drifting into other lanes, or just being bad drivers.
As most of you know, February was Black History Month. I would like to congratulate the members of UAW Local 659's Black History Committee for putting on their annual luncheon here at the Hall on Sunday, February 18, 2018. The event celebrated African American inventors and innovators with a wonderful lunch that was absolutely free, due to the hard work the committee puts in during the year. I was proud to be asked to speak at the event and break bread with our Brothers and Sisters. I am looking to turn in a resolution to the Constitutional Convention to make a new Diversity Committee part of the standard standing committee list provided for in the Constitution and hope to start one at our Local, regardless of how the resolution is decided upon at the Convention. The Recreation Committee has been very busy the past month as they just hosted the 3rd Annual Irish Extravaganza here at the Hall March 10, 2018. Turnout was a little low this year, but those who attended enjoyed the music and dance provided, along with our vendors. There is talk about expanding the Extravaganza next year to an offsite location and make it a day-long Celtic Festival. The Recreation Committee is also hosting the Annual Easter Egg Hunt on March 25, 2018 from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm and the 5-person Bowling Tournament on April 7, 2018. I ask our members to please support these events by attending or purchasing tickets. If we do not, then we cannot continue to put these types of events on for the benefit of our members and their families. The Education Committee is wrapping up their 12-week Pre/Post Retirement classes happening at the Hall. The wealth of knowledge being shared by the vendors to our Membership is truly fantastic. There is still time to stop in and visit a class or two, as you do not have to come to every class. I am currently working on putting some dates together to offer a Dale Carnegie Class for the Members in the fall time frame that will be TAP approved and CPR classes for members and their families for the Spring time frame at no cost. I ask our membership to pick up their UAW Constitution and National/Local Agreement books and read a little bit. Your elected Leadership is working hard for you, but you need to inform yourselves on how the grievance process works or if a Committeeperson does not write a grievance, what can you do about it. Realize that "yes" we have a contract and procedure for corrective action, but that does not keep management from violating it and dragging their feet after a grievance is written before they decide to settle it. We have and are seeing Management going backwards in their thinking and putting our members on disciplinary action for using the bathroom or refusing to do two jobs. We need our members to stand together in Solidarity to look at the bigger picture, rather than continuing to fight amongst ourselves and be distracted from the goal that the UAW was created upon - workers' rights and social injustice. Until next time, as the warmer weather returns, take a moment to go outside and be active so we can run that Michigan cabin fever right out of town. Also, thank you to everyone for your wishes of congratulations to my family and I on the announcement of our second grandson, to be born in June.
The weather did not cooperate for the annual White Shirt Day Celebration at UAW Local 651 this year, but the house was still full to show respect to our Brothers and Sisters who came before us. The spirit of the Union is still very strong and we heard from many previous Directors and Officers from the Flint area, along with a compelling speech from our very own Region 1-D Director, Gerald Kariem. I want to take a moment to remind you all that what you put on social media sites like Facebook can and has been used to discipline our Brothers and Sisters. I would ask that our members do not fall into the temptation to post comments using the thought process that what you put on these sites won't be seen or doesn't matter because you're not saying it to someone's face. Just because you do not believe or don't understand the way someone thinks, it doesn't mean you can say what you want. I use this rule... If it feels good to say it, then it probably shouldn't be said. We need to temper our comments to educate and help bring our Brothers and Sisters up, not be hateful and divide our Union further. The management of these companies is already posturing for the upcoming negotiations and we cannot afford to let them divide us. We have seen managers laying people off and the next day offer overtime to the remaining members. Our Brothers and Sisters then agree to work this overtime, which allows these managers to keep our Brothers and Sisters on the street. Management at GM has changed their policy on Union-approved leave and are trying to make those members pay their own healthcare for the following month. I received calls from Labor asking who was elected and/or appointed so they can recalculate our members' hours as they pertain to profit sharing. We are in a fight, my Brothers and Sisters, and yet ew, as Union Members, are fighting amongst ourselves. The news is continuously talking about the UAW/FCA charges. Let it go! No one has been indicted at GM or the Union GM department. I am asking or your thoughts and ideas on how we, as UAW Local 659 Members, can come together in Solidarity to make this Union the strongest in this Country and truly be out Brothers' and Sisters' keepers. We are having our Irish Extravaganza on March 10, 2018 at the Hall. So, come on out and have some fun being Irish for a day. The Recreation Committee has also scheduled the Annual Easter Egg Hunt at the Hall. So, look for the flyer in the Upcoming Events tab. The weather should be changing soon and we can get outside and get rid of the cabin fever. We have the new sign frame up at the Hall and expect it to be fully operational in a couple of weeks. We have scheduled a construction project to fix the issues on the south wall of the Hall and auditorium that should start March 1st. We are also planning on replacing the roof on the pavilion with steel, as it lost several shingles during the winds we received last fall. These projects, and others planned, should get the Hall back in shape, so our Brothers and Sisters can be proud to be members of Local 659 as they use and visit the Hall. Remember, you are the Union! I know you've heard it, but think about the words. We, as Officers, cannot do anything without membership approval, which is the highest statute of the land. Everything that is done in the Union is voted on by you, or by someone elected to represent you. Take the time to pick up your contract books and read a little. The more you know, the more you can help yourself or a fellow member. Take time to engage your Leadership and ask why or ask them to explain your issue. Don't be afraid of retribution, because you can call the Hall to get an answer for your question. I just ask that when someone gives you the correct answer, even if it does not fit with what you wanted to hear, that you respect the person taking the time to answer your question. Until next time, tell your family how much you love them, because none of us know how much time we have.
Well, we have made it to 2018. Happy New Year to you all. We have many changes and challenges before us in this new year. We have members laid off from Flint Engine, ACC and Metal Fabricating Division and possibly more coming depending on decisions being made by GM. Our Leadership teams are working to minimize these losses by thinking outside the box and collective bargaining. Our Leadership Team at the Hall is working diligently to develop an educational program for our members to help increase the knowledge base of our membership. We want to get the right information out the first time, in order to silence the constant rumor mill spreading doom and gloom, by working with the LEADS Program to develop a communication system for UAW Local 659. While we do have many challenges in front of us this year, the culmination of these changes sets our membership up for many years of good jobs and job security with the investments made in the Flint area. I truly believe that, as we move forward into mid to late 2018, things will start looking up for our members. Our UAW Night at the Red Wings 2018 trip was held on January 7, 2018. We had 168 people participate as the Red Wings took on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Unfortunately, our boys came out on the wrong end of a 5-2 score. The new Little Caesar's Arena is a beautiful piece of the Detroit landscape and its interior confirms the beauty. We had some complaints about the trip, which are being addressed, such as our group was spread across 10 different sections and some seats did not have direct sight to the scoreboard. All in all, a good time was had by all and the arena is an architecturial wonder, built by Union Labor that needs to be seen in person to be believed. The Recreation Committee has met to determine events for 2018 and we will be having the Irish Extravaganza this year in March, along with our many other events, including the bowling tournament in April. We recently received a negotiated day off in celebration of Martin Luther King Day. I once again ask you to reflect on why we have this day off to spend with our families. Dr King's message about Civil Rights is more important today than it ever has been. The struggles Dr. King fought for are the same principles the UAW was founded on - workers' rights and social injustices. We continue to fight today for racial, religious, and women's equality. Take a moment to ask yourself why is this person different from you and why should I be able to judge another human being because they believe differently than me? Tolerance and communication need to be in the forefront of our thinking process before we put someone in a "box." Does it really matter if someone has a different color skin, is a man or a woman, or has different beliefs than me? No, it doesn't, because it all comes back to the fact we are all just human beings living on this Earth. Do not make assumptions about people based on the prior criteria, because when you do, you are the one losing out on a possible friend or even a mentor. Take a moment to say hello to someone who may be different, you may learn something, gain a friend, and help move this world into a better light to stomp out the atrocity of discrimination. It is our responsibility to make the change we want to see in the world. Until next time, please make sure your animals are properly cared for during this winter's brutal cold snaps. A little hay and shelter goes a long way for outdoor animals. Don't forget to give them a fresh source of water daily. Help give them the things they need, so they can give us joy for several years to come.
First and foremost, I would like to wish all of our members, retirees, and their families Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. I would also like to congratulate Mr. Ruben Burks, former Secretary-Treasurer for International Union, on his recent event in which UAW Local 598 thought it proper to rededicate their Union Hall in Ruben's name. Mr. Burks has been a stalwart Union Brother since 1955, when he came to Flint, and a better man would be hard to find to receive this honor. I consider Ruben a mentor, Union Brother, and more importantly a friend. His smile is infectious every time you see him. Once again, Mr. Burks, thank you for what you do and thank you also to your family for letting us "borrow" you for these past several decades. I would like to thank the International Union, our Region 1-D Director, Gerald Kariem, Region 1-D Assistant Director Steve Dawes, and their staffs for their help over the past year. I cannot thank the Officers and staff here at the Hall enough for their help and support over the past six months. I truly believe there are no better people to work with. Last, but not least, a huge thank you to our members with whom none of this would be possible. Thank you for your support, encouragement, ideas and even criticisms. We have many challenges now and in the coming months of 2018. I assure you, we will get through all of them and hopefully come out even stronger than when we entered. I would ask you keep our members from ACC Truck Fleet and Flint Engine Operations that are being laid off before the holidays in your prayers. We will continue to fight to keep and bring jobs to UAW Local 659. I believe this is the best UAW Local in the land. I am working on raising the bar for our leadership in 2018, in order to help exacerbate the need for communication and education for our membership and to move this office into a more professional light. We have sold out of the Red Wings Trip Tickets, as of December 4th, and I thank you all for your participation. We recently had our Christmas with Santa for the kids, and I must say it was another successful event. Thank you to Recreation Committee Chair Tony Redmond, the Recreation Committee, our volunteers, and especially Glen and Tammy Byrtus (Mr. & Mrs. Clause) for their help with this event. Until next time, may you be blessed throughout the Holidays and upcoming new year. Keep the Union in your heart while you spend time with your new family and friends, and be ready to come together in Solidarity in the 2018 new year.
Well, it seems Mother Nature has decided it is finally winter. So, be sure to take some extra time before you have some extra gloves, a hat, and a blanket in your vehicle. You never know when you or someone else may need them. I have recently been able to represent our membership at several events in the area. All of them have made me proud to be a Union member, and more importantly, proud of our members. The Officers and I attended the annual Old Newsboys breakfast at Walli's Restaurant and let everyone know by way of check presentation that from October 1, 2016 to October 1, 2017 our members have raised $117,301.91 for Old Newsboys through corner collections, golf tournaments, bake sales, bowling tournaments, etc. The Old Newsboys annual paper sale is coming up on December 8th, so if you are interested in helping please contact the hall. We also had a chance to present Tony Lasher, Director of Red Cross of the East Central Bay Region Chapter, a check for $4,348 for Hurricane Relief from our in-plant gate collections. On Saturday, November 11, I was invited to My Brother's Keeper, a homeless shelter for Veterans, by our very own UAW Local 659 Veterans Committee to donate items for use at the shelter. The Veterans Committee also did a gate collection for the charity and raised $2,773.57 from our Retirees and active members in the plants. Please take a moment to thank a veteran for their service and when you do, ask them, "How are you doing?" Just that small ask may put you in a position to save a veterans life. The suicide rate for Vets is astronomical compared to the rest of the population. It is so important we take care of our Veterans for the service they gave to us. Thank you to all who came out to our first-ever "Trunk or Treat" at the Union Hall. The turnout for this first year event was overwhelming, even though the weather was brisk to say the least. The Recreation Committee has several events coming up, including the Christmas for the Kids, happening Sunday, December 3, and the Annual Red Wings Game on January 7, 2018. We have only 45 tickets left out of 168. So, if you are interested, get into the Hall. Congratulations are in order for six of our ACC Brothers. They were recently invited to Penske Headquarters in Philadelphia to be honored with the Diamond Driver Award. THe qualifications for the award are twenty years injury and accident free. This is a tremendous accomplishment considering how many hours are spent on the road over twenty years. The attention to detail and safety protocol of these members is on point, and I congratulate them for their hard work and dedication to their craft. Please remember to bring a new, unwrapped toy to the November Joint Council or to the December General Membership Meeting to be donated to Toys for Tots, so that every child can feel special for the holidays. Until next time, be safe and enjoy the fall weather.
First off, I have several thank you's to give out. The first goes out to the entire membership of UAW Local 659 for their donations to help the hurricane victims. Through your contributions, we are presenting a check to the Red Cross for $4,348.34 to help the victims of the three recent hurricanes that caused catastrophic damages to the communities they hit. Once again, I have to thank our Members who helped clean headstones at Great Lakes National Cemetery on October 7th. As we approach Veteran's Day on the 11th of November, take a moment to thank a Veteran for their service. Our Veterans did what was asked of them to keep this Country free, and some even gave their lives for freedom. Most of us enjoy the day off thanks to our Union, but let us not forget exactly what this day is about. Congratulations to our winners of the recent Standing Committee Elections. For those who did not win a position, do not despair, as there are always ways for you to be involved without having a title before your name. The Region 1-D CAP Committee recently endorsed several candidates for the Mid-Michigan area, one of which is UAW Servicing Rep. and Flint City Councilperson Mr. Scott Kincaid, for Mayor of Flint. You can find the rest of their endorsements on page 10 of this issue of the Searchlight. On a sad note, we have just found out that we will be losing 65-70 drivers from our ACC Trucking Unit. due to not winning a bid for inbound freight with General Motors. We are working to help our members from ACC come up with alternative forms of employment within and outside our Local Union. We are continuing to think outside the box to be cost competitive with the other dirt lot carriers out there, while still retaining a decent lifestyle for our ACC Members. It is embarrassing to think that UAW-represented carriers only have 1% of the inbound freight business with GM. We have many events coming up for our membership and their families. The 1st Annual Trunk or Treat will take place at the hall on October 28th. The Red Wings game will be January 7, 2018. We have the UULC Pancake Breakfast at the Local on October 22nd, and many other happenings in the near future. More information on these events can be found at the Union Hall, or on the Upcoming Events tab of this website. The UAW Local 659 Women's Committee recently had their shirt sale for Breast Cancer Awareness. As most of you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I don't have a total number of how many they sold, but I know I unloaded no less than twelve cases of shirts for them. Kudos to our Women's Committee and the job they do and for bringing awareness to this horrible disease. It is close to my heart, as I have lost family members to it, and I know several people who are Survivors of it, including my wife. Until next time, please take a moment to ask a person you wouldn't normally talk to. "How are you doing today?" We have had a number of suicides in the area and while I'm sure they had their own reasons for giving up, wouldn't it be great if just asking that question, that simple act of conversation, might save someone's life? We don't know what people are going through in their personal lives that may translate to the way they may act at work. Take a moment before you speak to think about what you are going to say, and how your choice of words may affect people around you. Until Next Time, be safe and enjoy the Fall weather.
I would like to thank everyone who took time out of their day to come to Region 1D Sit Downers Park on Labor Day. It was a beautiful day, only saddened by the fact that we have no Sit Downers or Women's Emergency Brigade members left. I believe this was the largest crowd we have had at this event since the picnics stopped at Crossroads Village. UAW Local 659 was well represented by active and retired members. We cannot forget the struggle these brave people and their families fought for things such as worker's rights, wages, safety, vacation time, work schedules, and most of all fair... representation. I am not trying to scare anyone, but we are very close to repeating the fight the Sit Downers did. The political and business climates we have today, along with the lack of education of what the Unions have done for this Country, are putting us right at the cusp of losing many of the benefits we have worked so hard for. Attend your meetings, get involved, and ask questions. I am working on getting a new Union Education Class going for our members at our hall to teach our story. There will be more to follow as we develop this curriculum. If anyone has some input on what issues they hold near to them, please let us know. What a whirlwind the end of summer has been. We had a couple issues at the Hall with flooding in the boiler room and fixed another flooding issue with the classrooms. We recently hired a contractor to excavate the south side of the entrance driveway, seal the footing walls, install new drain tile, and tie the eave and roof drains into the system. This should alleviate any problems with flooding in the classrooms. We also had a flood in the boiler room in which we replaced a sump pump motor and also found a 300 volt live wire. The line was live for four days before it was discovered and it is a miracle no one was hurt. I recently attended the Region 1D State CAP Conference in Lansing at the end of August, along with a lot of information. We also received numbers from the 2016 Presidential Election. Over 30,000 UAW members in Michigan did not vote and over 250,000 UAW family members did not vote. These are truly shocking numbers and I would take a moment to remind you that it is your duty as Union members to vote in all elections, per the UAW Constitution; Article 41, Section 3. I know the political rhetoric gets thick sometimes, but it is your responsibility as a Union Member and as a citizen of the United States. As an active Local, we have many events upcoming for your consideration. On Saturday, October 28th we will have our 1st Annual Trunk or Treat at Local 659. October 14th is the 15th Annual Ruben Burks Scholarship Brunch at Lansing Community College. Also on October 14th, UAW Local 659 will be walking in the Breast Cancer Walk in downtown Flint. We recently just confirmed our "UAW Night" with the Red Wings will January 7, 2018. With the new arena, ticket prices did go up, but we are trying our best to keep this event fun and affordable. More information on these and other events can be found throughout this issue of the Searchlight or at UAW Local 659. As the cooler weather arrives, take a moment to check and/or replace smoke detector batteries, furnace filters, and close up any small holes you may have in your home as the rodents will be looking for a warm place to stay for free. I will be working on a list of volunteer opportunities for our Members and their families for charities in the area and hope to post what these agencies do and provide contact information in the Searchlight. Until Next Time, be safe and enjoy the fall weather.
Let's take a moment to cover the recent happenings in Charlottesville, Spain, and France. While in these United States, I agree with the Constitution that the right to have a differing opinion than someone else and the fact that it is a protected right is a part of the democratic process. The problem with this is when the "right" becomes violent. When this happens, in my opinion, it is nothing more than terrorism and you lose your right to your opinion. Make no mistake. Racism is alive in America and it seems we have gone 50 years backwards since January 2017. Racism is a learned behavior and it can be stopped, f we all can just show some tolerance for our fellow Brothers and Sisters. If you see or hear something you don't understand, take a moment to talk to that person and find out why they are doing/saying it. As our Brother, Martin Luther King, said, "Knowledge is Power" and we must take time in our lives to embrace and educate ourselves on the differences of other people and cultures. Absolutely no one is asking you to change what you may believe, but within this process of tolerating your beliefs, we must be able to tolerate others beliefs. I ask you to take a moment to talk to someone, learn a little and maybe make a new friend. We recently celebrated the 2nd Annual Family Fun Day here at the Local. Many thanks go out to our members, and especially Sherry Snyder, for their help in making this year's event another success. We are also having a food drive in all of the plants from September 8th through the 22nd to benefit our retirees Women's Committee Food Box Giveaway for Thanksgiving. Flyers will be in the plants, along with collection boxes. More information on what is needed can be found on the "Upcoming Events" tab of this site. UAW Local 659 recently partnered with members of UAW Local 598 to construct two handicap ramps in one day, under the auspices of the UAW/United Way Ramp Program. It was great to partner with another UAW Local in helping our Community. I wish to send a message of thanks to UAW Local 598 President Ryan Buchalski for getting a great crew out to help with this project, and especially to the members of both Locals who volunteered. I cannot express how much help this team provided that day. Until next time, please watch out for the children returning to school (yes, it is that time already), and please join us at Region 1-D on September 4th at 10:30 a.m. for the Labor Day event honoring our Sitdowners with a lunch provided directly after (at no charge).
I hope everyone has been able to enjoy some of this beautiful Michigan summer weather with their families during the 4th of July Holidays. We recently hosted a small question and answer session with Congressman Dan Kildee and Congressman Joe Crowley. These gentlemen were interested in getting feedback from our young workers on what issues they face today in regards to economics and working families. It pleases me greatly that our Local can help provide information that could make a difference and that same information will be shared on the Capitol floor in Washington, D.C. Thank you to Rod Scott from Android, and Jennifer Rice and Deja Redmond from GMCCA for participating in this forum and representing the working people of UAW Local 659. Our very own UAW Local 659 Veterans Committee recently presented checks to "My Brother's Keeper" and the "Kystal Jo's Bicycle Fund" totaling over $4,700. I cannot thank our members and the Veterans Committee enough for the support they show for charitable causes in our communities. We are truly "Our Brothers and Sisters Keepers." The 3rd Annual UAW Day at Comerica Park took place on Sunday, July 16, 2017. We had 74 people from UAW Local 659 representing our Local by wearing their new T-Shirts to see the Tigers win in eleven innings over the Toronto Blue Jays. The weather, seats and game were great but what is of even more importance was the spirit of family and Solidarity. I had the pleasure and honor of taking my grandson, Maddox, to his first Tigers ball game ever. Next time you have a chance to take advantage of a trip like this, I ask you to give it a whirl and go along. You just might meet some new friends and have a great time. We still need volunteers for the 2nd Annual Family Fun Day being held at the Local ball fields on Saturday, August 12. More information and sign-up sheets are available at the Union Hall. The Hall will also be selling Michigan Renaissance Festival tickets at a discounted price throughout the season (see the Upcoming Events tab) In closing, we have many events coming up for the Local throughout the fall season, including a Night of Jazz, Trunk or Treat, our Family Fun Day, and many more. Please take the time to support these Union sponsored events, so we may all come together in the spirit of Solidarity and have a little fun while we are at it. I would also like to thank Mr. Ruben Flores, specially assigned from President Williams' office, many congratulations on his retirement. Ruben has been instrumental with his help in keeping our ACC Brothers and Sisters on fair and level ground as it concerns bargaining.
I would first like to start things off with a thank you to all of the members and families who attended the June Joint Council meeting for swearing in of newly elected Officers and Joint Council Delegates. It takes a certain amount of bravery and courage to run for these positions; as you are putting yourself in a position to be scrutinized by every decision or statement you make. I wish to thank Reggie Smith, our Past President, for giving us the honor to be sworn in by him. Reggie has been a great friend, mentor, President, and most of all a good person through the many years he spent in service at this Hall. I cannot stress enough to all who were elected to a position - take time and thank your families for allowing you to take time away from them as you perform your Union obligations. My whole family understands the commitment I have to this Union, and the people who are members of it. I cannot thank my wife, Denise, enough for the support she has given me over these past 22 years, as I have served in various positions with the Union. I have always said, "Behind every good man is an even better woman," and she is no exception. The events she attends with me, the things I have to miss, and the mood I come home in are just some of the things she gets to deal with on a daily basis. Most importantly, I need to thank the membership of this great Local for putting your faith in my to lead you forward in this Great Union. We have a few changes coming that should make communication a little easier for everyone and I invite any member to please feel free to contact any Officer at the Hall if you need something as we work for you. This is your Union and all of the Officers were trusted and elected to support this membership. I have met with all of the Chairpersons from their respective plants and I believe we are all in one belief that we are going to do the best of our abilities to represent this Local. The call letter for Black Lake Paid Educational Leave happening August 13-18, 2017 and September 24-29, 2017 has been received at the Hall. We have had problems in the past with people canceling last minute and causing the Hall a financial loss. So, this year, we will be asking members to fill out an application if interested in attending either session. Applications will be available in the Union/Work Centers of all plants/locations and should be turned back into the work centers by the date established in your plant. For more information, contact the Hall or your Committee Body at your location. Congratulations are in order for the Local 659 Veterans Committee for their donation of $1,895.99, presented to the 3rd Annual Krystal Jo's Bike Giveaway. This donation of proceeds from the Veterans Kayak Raffle will allow Tony from Krystal Jo's to fix and repair many more bikes for their giveaway next year. I believe this year's event gave away over 400 bicycles to children in need so they may have their own bike. We will be taking donations of bikes o money here at the Hall over the next year to help with this wonderful event. Don't forget some of our upcoming events happening at the Local. On July 8th, we will be having the 11th Annual UAW/United Way Cruzin' for Ramps Car Show, which will leave from UAW 659 and cruise to Auto City Speedway, where a car show will take place until race time. All Union members will receive $5 off admission for the races that evening. August 12, 2017 will be the 2nd Annual Family Fun Day here at Local 659. with many things for the kids to do, including a wrestling show starting in the auditorium that afternoon. More information can be found in the notice in "Upcoming Events." Once again, I cannot thank you enough for your support in this past election and I promise I will do everything in my power to support this membership with honesty and integrity. I hope that one day very soon you will be proud to call me your next President. Until next time, please enjoy your summer vacation and keep an eye out for the children who are enjoying their break from school.
Former President, Reggie Smith's previous articles
Hello Brothers and Sisters, I would like to thank the membership of this great Local 659 for all their support over my union career as an officer of this Local. Beginning in 2002 with my election as Recording Secretary and running through my second term as your Local President, it has been a genuine honor to serve you and lead this Local. I have accepted a special assignment at CHR (Center for Human Resources) as of February 13, 2017. My union career the last 2 weeks has been acknowledged beyond my imagination. The outpouring of love that has been shown to me will last a lifetime. Beginning with the Award of Excellence from the Genesee District Library (GDL), then the presentation of the greatest award a UAW member can achieve, the prestigious Walter Reuther, and an award from our 659 membership presented at the last Joint Council meeting. The Black History Committee also honored me at this year's Black History Program, where they bestowed the Maya Angelou Award, along with the proclamation from Flint City Council. I thank each and every one for their well wishes and acknowledgements as I start a new chapter with the UAW. May God continue to bless Local 659 in the future, each and every one of it's members, active and retired.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, Happy New Year! How is that New Year's resolution for 2017 working out for you so far? Have you been to the gym yet? Ran 5 miles on the treadmill? Stopped eating junk food and started eating more vegetables? Yeah, good luck with that, not to worry.... I am in the same boat as most of you are! What I have resolved to do that is more attainable is keeping this membership strong in communication. This is the key to our future success. A well-informed membership is what defines us! As a new President-Elect is seated, stay connected to your state and federal legislators, make sure you email, call and/or send letters to them, voicing your opinion on women's rights issues. They should not be violated, but respected! Make your voice and opinion heard. I have always advocated for electing labor-friendly candidates and those are the Congressman and women who you voice your opinions to. They work for us and will do all they possibly can do to hold on to laws that millions of people hold dear, such as Social Security, Medicaid, etc. Exercise your right, utilize technology, contact your representative. That's a resolution we can make and attain for 2017 - early and often. White Shirt Day will be held on Friday, February 10, 2017 at UAW Local 599. The program will begin at 11:00 a.m, and all are welcome to attend. This event marks the 80th Anniversary of the Sit-Downers. Please don't forget they are the reason we have all the benefits we enjoy and utilize today. This year's V-CAP drawing winner will drive off in a 2016 Chevy Camaro, so good luck to all and hope to see you at the White Shirt Day celebration. On a final note, I hope everyone took the time to reflect on the efforts, changes, and milestones that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. helped to bring about in human and civil rights. On Sunday, February 19th from 3:00 - 5:00 pm the Black History Committee is inviting the membership to enjoy the entertainment history and dinner afterwards.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, As we exit 2016, on behalf of the officers and staff, I would like to wish you a heartfelt Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Be careful as you travel and always be aware of your surroundings. Going into 2017, Local 659 has challenges, not unlike previous years, but none that would prohibit us from staying positive, resolving one issue at a time, and allowing Solidarity to ring loudly, as it has over the many storied years of our Local. Thanks for your support, both active and retired members. We could not lead our Local without everyone who gets involved - from gate collections, volunteering your own time for phone banking, literature drops, to supporting our many committees. Following are many examples of this support. Our Recreation Committee puts on the Santa party for the kids, Easter with the kids, Red Wings Trip, Tiger Game Trip, golf outing, and bowling events. Black History Committee events include cabarets and polish dog sales. Our Women's Committee organizes fundraisers for women's shelters and the fight against Breast Cancer. The Veterans Commitee, holding raffles and such, have donated money to VA Hospitals, Wounded Warriors, and housing for veterans. Our Education Committee puts on retirement classes, and the CAP Committee informs our membership on political issues. Our Human & Civil Rights Committee keeps unity for all UAW Members. The Community Service Committee works with United Way and Stevie G's for the ramp program, and our Union Label Committee identifies American-made products, and let's not forget about their Pancake Breakfast. The By-Laws Committee keeps our By-Laws correct and updated, our Election Committee works long hours running our elections, and the Publicity Committee works tirelessly to keep our events chronicled and photographed for our Searchlight. The list goes on and on. These are just a few of the things this membership does so unselfishly, like standing on street corners selling newspapers, selling buttons in the plants to sponsor a child for Christmas (so "no child gets left behind"), golf outings and bowling - all for the Old Newsboys - giving to Toys for Tots and to Sherry Snyder, who coordinated the Family Fun Day (which donated the proceeds to pediatic cancer research). Thanks to one and all. If I have omitted anyone, please charge my mind, not my heart. Happy Holidays to all our Union Family Members!
Hello Brothers and Sisters, We now have a President-Elect, Donald Trump, who is the will of the people of this great country. Democracy reigns in America. The next four years will hopefully give the people who supported Trump what they had hoped for. I, for one, also wish the best for our country. There is none greater. I wish the membership a safe and Happy Thanksgiving! On this Thanksgiving, let us be thankful for our families, the freedoms our service men and women fought and died for, our health, and the blessings of food and shelter. Let us not forget the many families that still go without food and/or shelter during the holidays. So let us be thankful for all we have, and reach out to help our fellow brother's or sister's family that may be in need of shelter, food and/or clothing. Thanks to our own Retiree Women's Committee on their 3rd Annual Thanksgiving Box Give-away. They gave away over 100 dinners this year to the less fortunate in our community. Job well done! And thanks to all of you across Local 659 who have gone above and beyond this year to help those in need. You know who you are. May God bless each and every one of you! As we head into the holidays, our General Membership Meeting is scheduled for December 11, at 1:00 pm. Director Gerald Kariem will be our guest speaker this year. All unit meetings are cancelled and reports will be given by Chairpersons of each facility. Please bring an American-Made toy for Toys for Tots. I hope to see all Joint Council Delegates and Elected Leadership in attendance as we close out another good, productive year for Local 659 and our membership. I would like to thank all who participated in our Veterans Gate Collection. The money raised went to the Saginaw V.A. and the Sailors Relief Fund. Also, Santa with the kids is scheduled for December 4, from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm.
Again, I hope everyone has a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, There are 18 days left at the time of this writing to vote for the office of President of the United States. Hillary Clinton is the candidate for labor and has proven herself to be for many years. Our UAW International Leadership endorses her and our Local Leadership endorses her as a proven fighter. So what I ask of the Local 659 Members is two-fold: (1) vote and (2) encourage your families and friends to also vote. This request of our membership is what will define us for the next 8 years. On October 1, a Rally was held at the Local 599 Union Hall. There were many in attendance from across the community. On October 30, another rally is planned from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the New Jerusalem Full Gospel Baptist Church. Former Governor Jim Blanchard and former Ohio Senator Nina Turner are just a couple of the planned speakers. I realize this is a Sunday afternoon, but I also know the importance of supporting candidates who support us and our children, as well as our grandchildren. The show of Solidarity rings ever so loud as we head toward November 8. For our GM members, your International UAW Bargaining Team had the foresight to bargain November 8 as a paid Holiday. It's just one of the many benefits that we are fortunate to have and sometimes are taken for granted. The company did not just give that paid day to us and we need to be aware and appreciate that fact. Never lose sight of where you came from (1936-1937), and where we are now. We went from a 1-page contract to a 700-page contract. Where did all those pages come from over all these years? One thing I can tell you for sure is this; any benefit in your National Contract was fought for during election cycles as important as this Presidential Election. In our Legislature Elections during this cycle, there is a strong possibility we can take back the House. Only 9 seats are needed to wrestle control back from non-labor supporting candidates. All these facts equal one thing - we need to support the GOTV (Get Out the Vote Rally) on October 30th at New Jerusalem Full Gospel Baptist Church. Also on October 24, an MEA-UAW Rally will be held at the MEA Building on Exchange Dr. at 5:30 pm. On October 27, the Genesee Democratic Party Women's Caucus is holding a GOTV at UAW Region 1D office from 5:00-7:00 pm. With these three GOTV events in our area, I asked at our Joint Council and membership meetings for members to join me and the Leadership for these actions to mobilize going forward. I was loudly given support that the members were in agreement that we needed to help support these actions as they arise and I fully believe this great Local will be in attendance in as many upcoming actions as they can be. We are committed in SOLIDARITY and THE FIGHT FOR OUR FUTURE IS NOW! Volunteers are needed for rides to the polls. Please call Local 659 to sign up and get more information. Volunteers will be needed in 3 shifts of 4 hours, and anyone needing a ride doesn't have to be a Local 659 or a UAW member. Thank you in advance!
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
Fall is upon us once again, and your Local Officers are making their rounds to attend the numerous events that our Local 659 sanctions during this time of year, starting with our 18th Annual Flint Tool & Die Golf Outing for Old Newsboys held on Saturday, September 10th. Next up was our Annual Director's Charity Outing held on Saturday, September 17, in Perry Michigan. We finished up on September 17 by traveling back to welcome our membership for the very successful and entertaining Family Fun Day. This event was held at the Local 659 Union Hall and Pavilion. For those of you who were in attendance, there was something for all ages. The event was highlighted by the wrestling show put on by a talented group. The kids, and yes, some adults, really got into the ring antics big time. Thanks to Sherry Snyder and Recording Secretary Tim Duplanty for heading up this new endeavor for our membership. Thanks to all who volunteered, it proved to be worthwhile for another run next year. Also, thanks to our many sponsors that supported the Family Fun Day. That brings us to the CCA Golf Outing to benefit Old Newsboys held on September 18, at Flushing Valley Golf Course. Beautiful weather highlighted this event and all participants had a great time for a great cause. On October 1, there is a rally being held at the Local 599 Union Hall. This rally will be one of the biggest in our area in quite some time. Times are 10:00 am to 12:00 pm and all are greatly encouraged to be in attendance. The time is now to rally for labor-oriented candidates that can only help us as we go forward into 2017. Make sure that every eligible man or woman in your family is registered to vote. Do not take for granted that you are registered if you have recently moved and changed your address. This year's elections, at this writing, will have straight-party voting. Thanks to our labor leaders who fought to not change the agenda that some were trying to push through to deny our rights and be encumbered by another senseless roadblock at the polls. So stand with me and challenge your family to vote. Make sure they understand the importance of this upcoming election. We have until October 11th to be registered. Checking your status can be done with a click of the computer at www.gov.michigan.com and follow the prompts. Actions are being held weekly. Let's get involved, this is for our future and our family's future.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, August has been a very busy month for the Local Officers and me. At the end of July, I had the pleasure of attending the National Urban League Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. There was a wealth of information, with the 2016 theme being "Save our Cities." Notable keynote speakers were President and CEO of the National Urban League Marc H. Morial, Vice Presidential Democratic candidate Senator Tim Kaine, President and CEO of the NAACP Cornell Brooks, Rev. Al Sharpton, and many more dynamic speakers made this conference powerful as well as educational. On August 15-17th the Local CAP Committee, along with the officers, attended the 2016 UAW Michigan State CAP Cindy Estrada, Chrysler V.P. Norwood Jewell, Region 1-D Director Gerald Kariem, Region 1 Director Chuck Hall and Region 1-A Director Rory Gamble addressed the delegates with strong messages on the upcoming elections (Presidential and House Seats) that we need to stay focused on in November. They reiterated that this election is the most important we've had in many years and that we can't take anything for granted. They asked that the delegates remind all their members that we need to vote and not take this election lightly. During that same week, the Local Officers participated in Fall School at Black Lake to spend some time with the Local members as they learned about the UAW workings, collective bargaining, social media, etc. Judge Billy Bradshaw also had an emotional farewell. We all thank Brother Bradshaw for his service to the UAW Membership, which many will never forget. As he made us laugh, he also helped make our pockets lighter for a good cause. The Black History Committee would like to thank everyone for supporting our fundraisers and helping generate the resources for our always educational and entertaining Grand Celebration held in February. At this writing, Jazz and R&B was presented by the Black History Committee and was an enormous success. Thanks to all who bought tickets. Pictures will be in next month's Searchlight. This year's Labor Day celebration will be held on Monday, September 5, at UAW Region 1-D in Flint, 1940 W. Atherton Rd. There will be a short program honoring the Sitdowners and Women's Brigade starting at 10:30 a.m. and hot dogs & hamburgers at 11:30 a.m. I hope to see you there.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, It has been a disturbing last few weeks in America. The shooting of black men in Baton Rouge and Minnesota, happening so close together, had our country riveted to the television and social media like no one has seen in quite some time. Mix those shootings with the horrendous shootings of the five Dallas police officers and you have a clear recipe for civil unrest in our Country. Every leader in those cities had a conversation and offered an opinion on why they think those actions took place. Every leader around the country had a plan on what we can do as a nation to quell the violence that seems to hold America hostage as of late, at the hands of our law enforcement officers. Going back to the Ferguson shooting, then over to the rash of prisoners dying in the custody of police officers, it is clear that changes have to be made. Conversations and dialogue have to come forward. Leadership at all levels cannot afford to be silent as incidents around us threaten our daily way of life, with respect and dignity towards our fellow Brothers and Sisters. The Dallas police officers, as well as the Baton Rouge officers, and the Kansas City police officers shootings are not the way to solve the problem. Those police officers and their families are innocent of any of the unjustifiable killings which preceded the ambushes they were subjected to. Killing of any kind is not what our society should be about. We need constant training and forums on how we can be better Americans. Just as much as I don't condone the shootings of innocent black men, I also don't condone the shooting of white police officers. What makes officers pull their guns and what is making for the injustice equating to vigilante shootings from unstable people in our society? Our conversations need to begin today - not tomorrow! This is destroying the America we know and love. I asked our Executive Board for their thoughts from the membership on the rash of shootings of innocent citizens and law enforcement and a healthy dialogue took place. Local 659 is as concerned as our county is, and we want the membership to know that we stand for justice and are willing to have a dialogue that the membership may feel is warranted, so that we can be open and transparent as a UAW Local. We are all human beings and do not condone injustice of any kind to black Americans, white Americans, red Americans, brown Americans, LGBT Americans, and law enforcement. We stand in Solidarity for justice for all. For all you jazz lovers, the Local 659 Black History Committee presents an evening with Jazz and R&B with the Raphael Set Band, featuring Tiana Foster, on August 20, 2016. Tickets are each a $10 donation, with proceeds going to fund the February Grand Celebration Black History Program providing dinner for all attendees.
August 2nd is the PRIMARY ELECTION - - Please support UAW-Endorsed Candidates!
Hello Brothers and Sisters, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the membership for their support of the Urban League of Flint's Black Scholars Program. The event was held on May 18th at the Riverbank Conference Center. Over 200 students were recognized and honored. A celebration with hors d'oeuvres and light food-fare was served after the program. Thanks for patronizing the souvenir ad book and all the donations that were given to help provide $8,000 in scholarships to 13 worthy recipients as they head off to college to attain their next goal in becoming our future leaders. Thanks also to Region 1D and the International Civil and Human Rights Department and their members for their generous donations! The International UAW has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. The team of Bernie Sanders ran a surprisingly close campaign to attain the Democratic nomination, but at this writing, the two sides have been meeting to unite the Democratic Party. The battle is all but over with Hillary Clinton coming out as the candidate for the first woman President of the United States. I will not even mention her Republican challenger, because he is just not the candidate to be the President of the United States. I hope the membership looks through all the rhetoric and hidden agendas and gets out and votes for the next President in November. I believe this membership is so much more educated on the issues and they will cast their informed vote for whom they believe will move this country forward for the next four years. The Local Black History Committee held a Polish Sausage Fundraiser on June 10 at the Local 659 Pavilion. Thanks for all of the support! Another polish sausage fundraiser will be held on June 24. Come out and have lunch. All funds go toward putting on the February 2017 Grand Celebration for the Black History Committee. This is always as entertaining and educational program with dinner provided at no cost to the attendees. In 2017, it will be 21 years that the membership has supported this committee, led by Chairperson Karen Barbee of Flint Engine Operations. Hats off to the entire committee for volunteering time and resources to help this committee continue to be successful. Happy belated Father's Day to all of our Local 659 dads and grandads. I would like to take this opportunity to wish the members and their families a safe and happy 4th of July Holiday.
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
At this writing, we have suspended the membership meetings for summer break - June, July, and August. But even though we are in recess, there still remains work to be done, especially in the Presidential Election. November is just around the corner and we need everyone's help in electing a President and congressional legislators who are pro-labor. We have all witnessed what electing non-labor candidates can do to us (i.e. Flint Water Crisis, the number of people who have been poisoned by this man-made disaster is unimaginable.) Not only is this generation suffering through the effects of lead-tainted water, the children and possibly their children may have to deal with the challenges that this water does to the human system once exposed. This catastrophe to a city of 100,000 citizens has been well published all over the world, not just in the United States. Through all of the notoriety, the only constant is that leadership from the highest office in Michigan (Governor Snyder) failed the City of Flint. Through all of the hearings and numerous testimony, 3 people have been charged to date. All three people are lower level officials that we did not have a choice in electing to their positions. However, we did have a vote in electing Governor Snyder to his job. Unfortunately, some of us stayed home and some were fooled by the trickery of his campaign. Knowing what was done to put him into office should have a sobering effect on how we look at who we support to represent us in the upcoming election. In November, let's not make the same mistake by electing a President to lead this country who doesn't have a pro-labor agenda. I hope Flint's water crisis never happens to another city and I also hope our city's crisis is resolved as soon as humanly possible. As we wait for the recovery of this great and resilient city, let us continue the fight for pro-labor candidates in November.
I hope everyone has a safe and happy Memorial Day!
Hello Brothers and Sisters, On Monday, April 11, 2016, an historical event took place at Local 659. This is the date that Local 599 was officially (paragraph 96) moved into our Local. I would like to welcome those members to our Local, knowing that change, even sudden change, is something we all endure at some time in our lives! As this transition takes place, we will grow together as one Union in Solidarity. As I welcome these members, I know our entire Local welcomes them as well and are willing to do all that may be necessary to make this transition as smooth as possible. On another front, I would like to inform the membership that I was newly elected chairperson of the Urban League of Flint, which has been reorganized and reinvigorated for the citizens and youth of Flint and Genesee County. In the Urban League 33 years of honoring Black Scholars, over 5,000 alumni were honored and went on to become pillars of this and other communities around the United States. On May 18, 2016, we will be presenting for the 34th year our "Salute to Black Scholars" at the Riverfront Banquet Center. Congratulations to all of our scholars who cumulatively carry grade point averages of 3.0 or higher from High Schools throughout Genesee County. Forthcoming articles will detail upcoming membership drives to strengthen this organization, that has been a pillar in this community for many years. The Urban League of Flint is a 501c3 non-profit organization. Any support that this membership can give the Urban League of Flint would be greatly appreciated. Sponsorship for Black Scholars, either a donation or a scholarship, is still being accepted. If you have any questions, would like to donate, or set up a scholarship through the Urban League of Flint, you can contact me at 810-232-4130 ext. 214. Congratulations to the Committee Body of Flint Metal Center, as their membership recently ratified their Local Agreement. Good job to you all! Happy Mother's Day to all of our Mothers and Grandmothers. If it were not for your love and nurturing, we would not be who we are today. Please take the time to give thought to our Brothers and Sisters who lost their lives on the job. Let's work together to practice safety in the workplace. Together, we could save a life.
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
At last, it looks like spring has arrived. In the world of politics, as of this writing, the UAW has not endorsed a candidate. In my humble opinion, both of our Democratic candidates are head and shoulders above what the other party has to offer. Labor would be well served by Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. The record turnout for Tuesday's Primary has me excited. When Democrats vote, we win! Congratulations also goes out to the Local 659 Black History Committee for their awesome program held on February 21 at the Local. Over 300 members, retirees and dignitaries attended this event and enjoyed the entertainment and prime rib dinner commemorating 20 years of standing strong and educating the membership on the accomplishments of African Americans and members who have helped lead Local 659 over the years. Thanks to all who purchased ads in the souvenir book and have supported the committee chaired by Karen Barbee of our Engine South Unit. Great job to the whole committee, including our younger workers, who have been there through many of our programs. We could not do it without all of you. And a special thanks to Nick and Anastasia of the Capital Restaurant who did the catering for our event. To all of our members and their families, have a safe and Happy Easter.
On February 11, 2016, Local 659 hosted our Annual White Shirt Day Celebration. The event was the best ever as remarked by President Emeritus, Owen Bieber. Our estimated attendance was 600 plus, in our standing room only auditorium. Also in attendance was Region 1-D Director Gerald Kariem, who was so instrumental in holding the Presidents meeting on February 10, in order to allow more leadership to be able to attend and participate in this annual commemoration of our Sit-Downers, along with Assistant Director Steve Dawes and the entire Region 1-D staff. Others in attendance were Emeritus Cal Rapson and Secretary-Treasurer Emeritus, Ruben Burks, and guest speaker Vice President of the GM Department Cindy Estrada, who gave a rousing oration on how White Shirt Day evolved. She shared what it means to us today and every day, fought for by the courageous men and women of the 1936-1937 Sit Downers and Women's Emergency Brigade. Sadly, their numbers have dwindled down greatly. Sit-downer Richard Wiecorek was brought in by ambulance and Pauline Paulsgrove, who was an active member of the plant at the time of the Sit-Down Stike, was brought in a wheelchair by her family. Thanks to them and their family members for making it possible for them to attend this storied celebration in honor of their fight and sacrifices for our Union's birth! A big thanks also go out to the many volunteers of Local 659 who stayed in the parking lot shuttling many of our members back and forth to the program. Those thanks include the Women's Committee of Local 659 and the Women's Council of Region 1-D for their help in setting up the auditorium and helping with Retirees throughout the day. And last but not least, a huge thanks goes out to our membership for supporting and being in attendance. The pride and solidarity of unionism shined ever so brightly on this day.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, Happy New Year! Welcome back from the Holidays. I hope you all had a chance to enjoy family and friends. The work for 2016 has already begun, the governor has signed legislation to end straight party voting. He also signed legislation prohibiting companies from deducting VCAP contributions from checks. It appears that 2016 continues with more of the same ideology of 2015 - hurt the middle class as much and as often as you can. The ballot box will prove to be our only relief in this 2016 national election year. As you have probably heard, the City of Flint has declared a State of Emergency because of the lead contaminated water that flows through our pipes into our homes. As more information is revealed the picture should become clearer as to who was knowledgeable of this situation and why nothing was done before it evolved to this disastrous level. Many innocent children have been affected by this situation, and it will take years before this injustice is corrected. There is a possibility that the children of Flint who test positive for lead may not have a normal, healthy lifestyle because of this exposure to lead. I would like to thank our UAW Membership for making calls to the governor demanding he call in FEMA. Since that action, the call has been made to rectify this tragic situation. Also, thanks to our UAW membership for the selfless support of using their trucks to help support of using their trucks to help transport and unload water to Hasselbring Community Center, Brennan Park, and Berston Field House for the Flint Community. On January 19, the UAW Local 659 members and leadership rallied at the State Capitol regarding the water crisis in Flint. It's what we do best; gather together with the community to lend our support, and fight against injustice!! These efforts bring me to our own warriors, the 1936-1937 Sit Downers, who 79 years ago showed that same fight. February 11, 2016 the White Shirt Day Celebration will be hosted by UAW Local 659, the Home of the Sit-Downers, who won recognition and initiated the creation of the UAW. Our program starts at 11:00 am. Soup will be the food fare and a great program will be presented. On February 21, at 2:00 pm will be the Black History Committee's 20th Anniversary Grand Celebration. Please join us at the Union Hall to celebrate 20 years of UAW Local 659 Black History.
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to our Local 659 members and their families. May we all, active and retired members, enjoy a safe holiday and good times with family and friends during this season. 2015 was a very eventful year for us, highlighted by our National Contract that brought benefits that this membership had not seen in any previous agreement, such as: signing bonuses, along with an unprecedented SAP (Special Attrition Package) of $60,000 fir 4,000 production members which meets the criteria and sends the message that this year has been very profitable for our UAW Membership. Along with the profit sharing payout, 2015 has been a good year for our membership. Even though our Skilled Trades members had some opposition in the initial rollout, the leadership did agree to address their concerns and in that effort showed the democracy of this Great Union. Our Retirees received a $500.00 check this month which made the holiday a lot brighter for many of them and their families. Thanks to the leadership for not forgetting them in negotiations, because they are the foundation and true backbone of our Union. As we move forward into 2016, we see our Presidential Election on the horizon. This election will mold our future for the next 4 years and will be very critical for us. My hope is that our membership will be as engaged as ever to help elect a candidate that will support labor. Now is not the time to go backwards, our fight for justice and middle class parity continues. Our state is a prime example of how important the legislative branch of our government is. The Politicians against labor have no problem enacting laws against the poor and working class. If they are in the majority, it simply means we are in the minority and we all know what that means - you get nothing. So as we close out this year, let's all put on our list of good intentions for the new year to get more involved, support your Union, attend more meetings, and let your voice be heard!!! See You Next Year...
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
Wishing everyone a very Happy Thanksgiving.
As of this writing, our UAW Leadership are still in talks with GM about concerns that our Skilled Trades members brought out during special talks invoked by Article 19, Section 3 of our constitution. With that being said, let me say this, all members were not in approval of the GM/UAW National Agreement.
For Skilled Trades members, who by majority of their numbers, voted against the Agreement, had our International gather feedback from every local nationwide to hear concerns of the Skilled Trades workforce.
All information was submitted to the National Parties and a report was put together for the International President and the International Executive Board (IEB). From their report which took in account of reports submitted.
To all that voted for or against this agreement, thank you for participating in the greatest process in a democratic organization, to make your voices heard. And I myself am glad that our UAW Retirees will receive a onetime $500.00 gift card this year. Which I know can be put to good use, and it shows negotiations did in fact keep them in mind as they forge the new agreement. Along with a gift card, the UAW Legal Services Plan is available for their use as well.
Once we have a National Agreement, time is now to stay together, going forward in Solidarity, and being thankful for what we do have; health, family, good benefits, employment, and a strong active Union.
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
At the time of this writing, there is no news on which Company will be next to negotiate a contract. The UAW and Chrysler have gone back to the table and negotiated a new tentative agreement. This agreement will not be voted on by their membership, until October 20th or 21st of this year. After those votes are tabulated and the contract is accepted by the Chrysler membership, then another company will be named (either GM or Ford.) I believe the contracts for UAW workers will be something we can be proud to vote for, while taking our resolutions submitted prior to talks into account as they bargain for all our members, both active and retired. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Walks and fundraisers are being held around the Local in support of finding a cure. There are many survivors, and the numbers continue to grow with the advancement in research for combating cancer. One day, it can be listed with other eliminated diseases, including small pox, yellow fever, etc. So please keep supporting this worthy cause. On November 21, from 8 pm to 1 am here at the Union Hall, the Local 659 Black History Committee will hold its "Throwback Western Round-Up" fundraiser. Tickets will be $10 in advance and $15 at the door. To purchase tickets for this event, please see a Black History Committee member. There will be prizes for the best dressed Cowboy and Cowgirl, music and food. This event is being held to help commemorate the 20th Anniversary Grand Celebration for the Black History Committee, which not only entertains but educates the membership. To also commemorate the 20th Anniversary Grand Celebration, "A Journey Through Time," will be held on February 21, 2016 at Local 659 from 8 pm to 1 am. Tickets will be $10 in advance, and $15 at the door; more information to come. All are welcome to attend both these great events.
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
On August 15, 2015, Local 659 along with Local 599 and GM partnered together a fundraiser for Folds of Honor. A charity that supports the education of children and spouses of veteran’s who have been injured or lost their lives in service to our country. The event raised over $20,000. Thanks for all that supported this well deserving event.
Also, Labor Day had the honoring of our Sit-down strikers at Region 1-D. Afterward, a lunch of bratwurst, hotdogs, hamburgers were served. The turnout was very good, as we celebrated the working men and women of this country, especially the 1936-1937 Sitdowners and their families. Which I believe is down to just one (1) surviving member who was in attendance.
At the time of this writing a Tentative Agreement had been reached at the Chrysler Corporation and was being voted on by their membership. The next company targeted for bargaining an agreement has not been announced. Whether it is Ford or GM, our UAW Leadership Teams stand in SOLIDARITY to bring us the best contact possible and they deserve our full support. Any details will be communicated with the leadership and Committee bodies of affected units on the state of National Contract talks.
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
I hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather we have been having lately, I know I have been taking full advantage of Mother Nature’s blessings. Around the local, good news abounds on August 4, 2015. Flint Engine Leadership welcomed Jim Deluca (GM Executive) during conversations on future product, without being able to give specifics, says that plant continues to excel in quality and the way they continue to build world class engines, the future looks bright. Thanks to the membership for being very knowledgeable on the plant tours as they explained in detail their processes. After leaving Engine, leadership moved on to Flint Metal Center where talks were also held on the future of the facility, which included promising dialog and plant tour of the Metal Center as well as leaving Jim Deluca very impressed. Also at the Metal Center August 10, 2015 kicked off local contract negotiations. Chairman, Justin MacNeill and his Shop Committee opened on a very positive note which can only be good for the entire membership, as they forged a new 3 year agreement. At this writing August 27, 2015 will have Local 659 taking a strike vote on the National Contract. These votes are a requirement in negotiations which just gives our negotiators support in advance as they bargain our agreement. It does not mean we will be going on strike!! Times will be form 6:00 am to 5:00 pm, look for information on the posting in your facility.
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
Welcome back form the shutdown, for those who were off. For the rest of us, the beat continues. Our National as well as Local negotiations have started up in a few of our units. CCA opened on Friday, July 17, our ACC Fleet started in May, and Flint Metal Center is opening up on August 10. Other units are working with Living Agreements, which allows the UAW to change or add to existing contracts, if they feel that current language is not appropriate for the membership because of a change in product or work rule modification. This is usually by mutual consent between both parties. And some languages just get outdated, which call for deletions to update to the progress of how we are currently doing business. I say to all of our Bargaining Units, may God give you the wisdom and tenacity to bargain the best contract possible for our membership. I also pray that our International Bargainers be covered in the same prayers and that they also consider our whole UAW family, which includes our retirees who call and come by every day with the hope taht they will also be taken care of. I stay positive that something will be done on thier behalf. In most talks among leadership, retirees have been mentioned, so we wait patiently for the outcome of these upcoming talks for the next contract and all signs point to a working agreement for all. On another note, the Local 659 Black History Committee, chaired by Karen Barbee of the Flint Engine Operations, held their first-ever Barbecue polish sausage sale. The committee would like to thank everyone who purchased and supported this fundraising event. Special thanks to Felecia Castleberry of CCA for all of her efforts and to all those on the committee, our cooks, including Greg Brock from Flint Metal Center and Willie Evans from Flint Tool & Die. Plans are in process for an August sale. Look for fliers with information in the plants. Local 659 would also like to give their most heartfelt sympathy to the family and friends of the 1st Vice President of the Retiree Chapter, Dewey Handy, who recently passed away. He left a legacy of service that this Local will never forget. We thank him for his service and thank his wife, Cindy, and their entire family for sharing Dewey with us all. May God Bless!
The following is a letter sent from Local 659 President Reggie Smith to U.S. President Obama regarding labor unions strong opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty.
Dear Mr. President, Good day to you President Obama. My name is Reginald Smith, President of UAW Local 659. I have stood up for you from the beginning of your first term as Commander-In-Chief. I have been so proud doing this, acknowledging the elephant in the room, while our Leadership was politically dancing around the issue. But I am a proud African American. I knew our challenges as my Local, and our Region got on board to help you in the smallest of ways to get you to the coveted White House. Millions cried during the victory speech, many traveled to your inauguration, many forsaking bills and obligations, just to be able to be there. I applaud each and every family that sacrifices their homes and existence - living check to check, to support you and the administration. It now causes me great concern that you, in your infinite wisdom, would after all that you have done to move the American dream forward and take care of middle class (which is mostly labor), would lead us down such a bad road. I wish, with the writing of this letter, to make you aware that UAW Labor, AFL-CIO, SEIU, etc. (in a nutshell, we are of Labor) are very opposed to the TPP, which to us is NAFTA on steroids. You will always have my support, but this bill that your administration strongly supports is harmful to the American workforce. If it passes, my membership and their families will be at a great disadvantage. Their jobs will be subject to the whims of congress that gets health insurance and lifetime benefits when and while they're in office. That to me, and my membership, is unacceptable. If that is your plan, please make it a point to travel to Flint, Michigan, UAW Local 659, The Home of the 1936-1937 Sitdowners, who initially formed the UAW, who have supported your Administration, Affordable Health Care Act, Iraq draw-down of troops in Afghanistan, and sending advisors to help train Foreign Allies in the face of our own losses. Look into the soul of being a leader; give us an explanation of why you fervently push for TPP. Our Members and Leadership don't understand, please let us know why it's so important to close plants and lose members of the UAW to foreign competition. I am looking forward to your response, thank you Mr. President. Transparency is what we admire and that is what we would like at the rank-and-file level. An open invitation is there for you, Mr. President, to visit us on February 11, 2016 for the Annual White Shirt Day Celebration; your attendance would greatly be appreciated.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, The UAW Health & Safety Conference, which was held in Florida, started on May 6, along with the GM National Council. The National Council discussion centered on what resolutions, when narrowed down, would give the framework of what we would be taking to the bargaining table. Without getting specific on any one item or issue, the negotiations for all intent and purposes should be very interesting. Most information surrounding the upcoming talks will be handled as it has been in the past; kept out of the media as a way to not have rumors running rampant that could send the wrong signals to membership. With most processes leading to negotiations being typical, the taking of a strike vote allows our Bargaining Team to fight for us without any uncertainty and know unequivocally that they have our support. Past contracts had a "no strike" clause inserted to help the company come out of their financial hardship. That clause will no longer be there and the company is no longer in financial uncertainty, thanks to the help of its workers who gave up many concessions to allow profitability to once again be attained. Now is the time for the sharing of the success that we are now enjoying. And as we fight to gain our fair share, I would be remiss if I did not also include our retirees and their needs. They have also had to take cuts and endure higher premiums for their insurance, especially in health care and dental. This was a good start and I know that it was welcomed, but there are a few other things that our retirees need. We have talked extensively and are all waiting for positive results concerning all of our members. On May 13-15, the International UAW trained 25 members from our Flint Metal Center plant in their new program called "Local Leadership Development Program." Metal Fab is the 7th plant to take part in this program, which is jointly funded and had management participation on the first day. This program is rolled out in two phases; the second phase will have 25 more participants and will only be a two-day session. All training will prepare us for the upcoming changes with our state, due to right-to-work and the ever-changing technologies in our industry. Before long, more plants will have the opportunity to take the training. Our IPS members will also, by special request, be given the opportunity to receive the training. At this time, the logistics are still being worked out, but we will keep the membership informed as we get closer to scheduling the classes. During our May 17 Joint Council Meeting, a motion was made to suspend Joint Council meetings for summer vacations. So, for all our members, I wish you a safe and Happy Memorial Day, a beautiful summer, and I look forward to seeing you in September.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, April showers bring May Flowers, along with it, May 5th and Proposal 1, the controversial bill in our state that is supposed to fix our roads for good. The reality is passage of this proposal will actually trigger 10 bills containing thousands of words passed by legislation in December. The actual Proposal 1 consists of only 100 words. We need to educate ourselves on this proposal; all that sounds good usually is not good. It was just a year ago when most of us exposed the conditions of our roads around the state. The Snyder administration told all that would listen, “the conditions of the roads was not an issue”, how quickly they forget. Now they want us to tax ourselves and not be held accountable. Remember the slogan during Proposal 2 Campaign “Hands off our Constitution”; well if it wasn’t good then it certainly is not good now!! Highlights of the Collective Bargaining Conference were an adoption of the broad, comprehensive Bargaining Resolution that is significant to all of our members, in all of our sectors of the UAW. There was a lot of discussion on 2-teir being addressed and what the best way to approach was. This brought about positive ideas and had delegates confident in that their resolutions were being seriously considered. Another bright point was the gathering of Retirees at the Convention, many carrying signs acknowledging their presence and sending the message to the delegates as we filed into the conference to not forget about them and that it was time for action on their behalf. The peaceful lobbying being very informational just warmed the hearts of the delegates along with the Leadership which turned into a great opening for the Special Bargaining Convention. We never want our Retirees to be left out of any gains the active workforce can achieve and by our expressing feelings as we addressed the stage, which sat our UAW Leadership, it was evident that the delegates clearly support some action be taken on behalf of our Retirees. The Leaderships message to the Delegates was; we have always given concession in hard times of the company and really came to their rescue during the Bankruptcy. If not for our membership and the support of our President, Barack Obama, the company would not be making the record profit that they enjoy today, that will be the message going into negotiations. May God bless our negotiation teams, giving them all of the wisdom needed to achieve our goals during this next step towards the upcoming contract.
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
Finally the spring season seems to be heading our way, and not a moment too soon. March brings Women’s History Month and Local 659 Women’s Committee is doing a diaper drive as their project, please help this Committee as they set up collection locations in their various plants.
Kudos goes out to the Steve Gruener and the Recreation Committee for putting on the first ever Irish Extravaganza at Local 659 and judging by the crowd it is sure to become a staple at the Local. Bagpipes and Kilts were the attire of the night, Great job Rec Committee.
March 24, 2015 the Collective Bargaining Convention will be held in Detroit, this will be the leadership’s opportunity to form a plan to take to the bargaining table and negotiate a contract that we can be proud to ratify. I have had some calls from some members mostly Retiree’s about being left out of the profit sharing and that we have forgotten them. I would just like to say Local 659 has not forgotten our Retirees; we fight as hard to take care of every chance we get. Although the bargainers cannot directly address your concerns in the up-coming contract, I am hopeful that somethings will be looked at to help the Retirees for you are a vital part of this great UAW, which one day we all hope to be there and drawing a pension we can enjoy.
March 29th, also brings the Easter Bunny, every year the event has gotten bigger and bigger. This year will not be an exception, let’s pray for good weather so the kids are able to stay warm while hunting for Easter Eggs. See you there.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, February brings many milestones to the Local 659 membership. Although designated as the shortest of the months, actually, it reigns as one of the most powerful for the city, state and country. Black History celebrations abound all over, including Local 659, some bigger than others. History celebrations are greatly appreciated by our Local. Many of our acknowledgements in the plants are well received and the membership looks forward to any acknowledgements that our diverse membership chooses to mark the celebration of Black History within their respective units. All are appreciated and have the support of the Officers, Executive Board, and Staff of our Local. The Grand Celebration, held February 15 by the Local 659 Black History Committee, would not have been possible without the entire membership of this Local, which has supported all of our fundraisers throughout the years, including our Black and White Cabaret, MLK Barbecue Fundraiser, etc. Your support has allowed this event to stay in the archives of history of this great Local, notching year number 19 and counting, spreading awareness and the history of Black Americans in this Local, country, and around the world. We all benefit from these historical accomplishments each and every day. Another milestone, celebrated February 11, is White Shirt Day. For the UAW, that is our birthday, the beginning of our 78-year-old existence. At 8:00 pm on December 30, 1936, in one of the first sit-down strikes in the United States, autoworkers occupied Fisher Body Plant #1 in Flint, Michigan, fighting to win recognition for the UAW. Forty-four days later, after many battles and help from the Women's Emergency Brigade, we were born!! Our White Shirt Day Celebration, held this year at Local 651, was standing room only as our GM Vice President Cindy Estrada addressed the attendees with a rousing speech of her appreciation to the rank-and-file and their efforts being the catalyst for our success at the bargaining table (i.e. profit sharing). Her energy, along with Regional Director Gerald Kariem and added support from Vice President of Chrysler Norwood Jewell, Vice President emeritus Stan Marshall, and Secretary Treasurer emeritus Reuben Burks, marked this White Shirt Day as energetically as I have ever witnessed. A memorial tribute to the last surviving member of the Emergency Brigade, Geraldine Blankenship, made this a very special day. Putting a cap on both February highlights leaves me with one parallel that resonates for both. If you don't know your history, you don't know your past. If you don't know your past, you don't know your present. If you don't know the present, you won't know your future! Let's get involved today!!!
Hello Brothers and Sisters, Hope everyone is staying warm. On January 15 & 16, the Local 659 Black History Committee held their annual Martin Luther King, Jr. barbecue fundraiser. Karen Barbee, Chairperson of this committee group, would like to thank all who purchased dinners and helped prepare for this successful event. Over 300 dinners were sold. Thanks go to our cooks, Greg Brock and Willie Evans, and the entire committee for all of their hard work. The next upcoming event for the Black History Committee will be the Grand Celebration. Watch the Searchlight for details. On January 18, the Local had their Detroit Red Wings/UAW Outing, put together by Vice President Steve Gruener. Four buses made the trip this year and the Red Wings won 6-4 with the first hat trick that I had ever seen. All had a great time, thanks to Steve Gruener and his bus captains. On February 1, from 8 am - 12 noon the annual Region 1-D Pancake Breakfast will be held at Local 659, tickets are $5.00, children 12 and under are free. On February 11, White Shirt Day will be hosted by UAW Local 651, starting at 11:00 am with a bean soup lunch being provided. Happy Valentine's Day! Speaking of Valentine's Day, February 14 is also the date of Michigan's Democratic State Convention held at the Cobo Center in Detroit. Stay warm and safe.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. As we wrap up 2014, know that 2015 will be as challenging, if not more so, than 2014. But with the support of the 659 membership, we can and will weather any new storms. Adversity always brings us a greater understanding of where we have come from and lights a path for a greater future. Speaking of the future, our Local has added a few new members and I would like to invite them to attend our monthly meetings and get involved in their union. Meetings are usually held the second Sunday of each month, or changed by membership action. The earlier you get started, the more knowledge you gain, and the stronger your union becomes. There is always a need for volunteers. Contact the Local for more information. Also, thanks to the members who supported our Black History Committee, chaired by Karen Barbee. The turnout was better than ever and a good time was had by all. Karen and the entire committee, thank everyone for all their support and hard work in making this a great event. Upcoming will be the M.L. King Barbecue Fundraiser held on January 16, at the Local 659 Hall. Pick up times will be between 11:00 am and 2:00 pm. This year's event will stop taking orders on January 9th. This fundraiser helps put on the Grand Celebration held in February. Find more information for this flyer on page 18 of this issue. Following will be the White Shirt Day Celebration being held at Local 651 on February 11, 2015. Congratulations to Region 1-D Assistant Director Steve Dawes on being re-assigned to his former position. Many thanks also go out to Brandy O'Brien, member of the Flint Engine Operations, for her generous donation of American-made toys and thanks again to our membership for your donations of American-made toys which you brought in to the General Membership meeting held December 14, 2014. And, thanks go to Director Gerald Kariem for being our guest speaker. Last but not least, thanks to the Executive Board of Local 659. We could not have gotten through the year without their wisdom and decision making on behalf of the membership. In Solidarity...
Hello Brothers and Sisters, I would like to thank the membership for participating in the November 4, state and national election. For the last few months, we have been engrossed in electing labor-friendly candidates. Our efforts came up short, once again. Mid-term election turnouts have been traditionally poor and not good for Democrats, and this cycle was no different. Over 625,000 registered Democratic voters stayed home or just plain chose not to vote. I am sure all the data will be analyzed and scrutinized for what may have went wrong - not just in Michigan, but across this great nation. Whatever the final call by the pundits, that does not detract from the hard work that I personally know our Local 659 members put forth in trying to get Mark Schauer elected governor. Some of our state was successful in their election and re-election bid. A big win was Senator Gary Peters, along with Congressman Dan Kildee and other local state reps. These were bright spots for us. To say the least, we have a lot of work to do, but we always have another fight around the corner or just ahead of us. The UAW never gives up, nor do we give in. We may bend, but we will not break. There are challenges in our lives every day and as long as there are policies and legislation that negatively affect our members, we will always do battle to right the wrongs and injustices that are aimed at us. There will always be a protest, a rally, or an action - that's what we are about, a Union for our Members.
As you read this article, Election Day, November 4th will be just around the corner. I know that a lot of people have made up their minds on the candidates they will vote on, and hopefully they will be union-endorsed candidates. But if you are still contemplating on who to vote for, here are reasons on why to vote union-endorsed candidates. The present state administration (Governor Snyder and his Republican cronies) have passed bills that have harmed workers, senior citizens, education, and they also raised taxes and eliminated tax credits.
Eliminated deduction for children under 18 years old ($600) HB4361
Retirees will pay more than $340 million in new pension taxes and people 65 and over will lose a $2,400 exemption. HB436
The Homestead property tax credit cut out over 400,000 families, amounts to over $270 million. HB4361
Low-income tax credit for low-income working families, an average cut of $307 a year per family - $261 million overall. HB4361
Workers compensation - a worker is injured on the job, the employer or their insurance company can contest the claim arguing the injured worker should be able to find a job that pays that much. The average length of Workers Comp benefits is 13 weeks. If a worker is denied benefits, they would lose $5,408. HB5002
Cut unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks. A loss of $2,172. The 6-week cut resulted in a loss of 8-11 weeks of federal benefits, costing the average laid-off worker $2,368 to $3,256. HB4408
Right to Work (for less) The corporate CEO's and Republican politicians supporting RTW said they were endorsing "freedom of choice" for workers. This agenda cuts union funds to make it harder for unions to represent workers and participate in public policy debates. SB116
These bills and others are why we must elect candidates who are endorsed by our unions. We can reverse the damage that has been done by these anti-worker, anti-union, state representatives. So Brothers and Sisters, talk to your family, friends, and neighbors... encourage them to vote for our candidates. United We Stand!
Hello Sisters and Brothers, With only 6 weeks left before November 4, the call for volunteers is being sent out (see page 11). The Local 659 Leadership is asking all members to dedicate time to the election for labor friendly candidates like: Mark Schauer and Gary Peters. Donate 4 hours a week, even 3 hours, whatever your schedule will allow. There is phone banking operating at the Local 659 Van Slyke Hall. Other volunteer locations are AFL-CIO Labor Center on Thursdays from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm on Saturdays canvassing neighborhoods 10:00 am and at 2:00 pm at the IBEW Hall, 1251 W. Hill Rd, Flint, MI. Also, there are coordinated campaigns on Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 am - 9:00 pm and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 am - 6:00 pm at UAW Local 651 located at 3518 Robert T. Longway Blvd., Flint, MI. Literature drops, yard signs, worker to worker activities - they are all needed. As stated before, absentee forms are available at the Local. Packages with information for helping out with the campaigns are also available at Local 659. This is a call for all hands on deck. The last election cycle there were almost 1 million registered democratic voters who did not vote. If you are unable to get out and vote, absentee voting is available for you to utilize. We need to do away with current legislation such as: right to work, 26 weeks - 20 weeks unemployment, cuts in education, cuts in earned income tax credit, emergency managers, and the tax on Senior's pensions. Keep your enthusiasm high and work to remove Snyder and his Republican legislators from office. In Solidarity...
Hello Brothers and Sisters, With what summer days we have left, I would suggest we take advantage of it as much as possible. Labor Day is fast approaching, which signals the official end of summer. August 5th was the primary elections. The candidates moving forward still need support in November, which is our goal for continuing what we started. By phone banking and getting yard signs, we can meet some of our objectives going into this crucial period. The signs are ordered and Local 659 will have an allotment of them. If interested in assisting this effort, call the hall to see which candidates' yard signs we have and the availability of Mark Schauer and Gary Peters signs. These yard signs will be going fast and we hope to keep up with the demand. Mark Schauer, our candidate for Governor, is doing well in the polls. We just need to keep ourselves engaged (along with our families) every day until Election Day. Every member of our circle should be registered and doing their part to help change history in our state. We have suffered long enough. Even though the polls are encouraging, we should continue our push to oust the nerd and replace him with Mark Schauer. If anyone is interested in helping with the campaigns, call the hall and leave a phone number or email and we will contact you on what you action may be needed. With our Local, many actions are late notice, so if we have an email address on file for you that would help tremendously. Thanks to the membership that has already been active; especially the retirees, who have logged over 40,000 phone calls leading up to the primaries. On another note, let's all keep Retiree George Petkoff in our prayers. As of this writing, he is battling a very serious illness. George is not only a personal friend to me but to all of Local 659. His assignment before his illness was making sure the hall was in great shape after functions and he set-up for Joint Council meetings on Sundays. George and his wife, Suzanne, have been an integral part of this Local.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, I hope everyone is enjoying the summer so far, the days have been absolutely beautiful. While we are enjoying our families and vacations, let us not forget we are in a crucial battle. The upcoming November elections are getting closer. Let us dedicate some time to helping elect Labor-friendly candidates, whether it be phone banking, which is currently going on at the UAW Local 659 hall, or helping go door to door dropping literature. Whatever you choose, include your families and make it a joint project across the barbecues, open houses and even the family reunions. Make sure all are registered, and if not voting an absentee ballot, encourage them to consider it. Use that day to help campaign for Governor Mark Shauer or Senator Gary Peters, whichever campaign among our Labor-friendly candidates you choose. Our goals are unified to bring respect back to the working class of this state to tilt the scales back for our families. For they truly deserve to have their futures not negatively impacted by senior taxes and cutting education funding for our children. So, as we enjoy our Summer, let us remember we are in a battle and it's a fight that we can and will win. Our forefathers and mothers did it, now it's our time!!! A huge thank you goes out to Chairperson Karen Barbee and the 659 Black History Committee for their Fire Keepers Casino excursion; a great time was had by all. In Solidarity...
Hello Brothers and Sisters, On June 2-5, the 36th Constitutional Convention was held in Detroit, Michigan and there was some changes to the Constitution. One of the biggest changes was the dues increase. It was debated very spiritedly and the delegates voted for the increase. Democracy and transparency permeated this Convention. Voting highlights were the combining of Region 1-C and 1-D, with the result that this merger will now all be under Region 1-D. Congratulations to Director Gerald Kariem, who has the monumental task of leading this great Region. Also, our own previous Director Norwood Jewell, has now been elected Vice-President and will oversee the Chrysler Division. Congratulations to Vice-President Norwood Jewell as we wish and anticipate his continued success. For more highlights from the Constitutional Convention go to the website (www.uaw.org). On a more local note, thanks go out to my longtime friend (work-wife) Debbie Carswell, as she has decided to retire. I wish her and her husband, Muggs, all the best as they transition to Tennessee. She is the reason the Local finances have rebounded to the state they are at now. Thanks Deb. Also leaving the Local is our Retiree Chairman, John McCann. Thanks Brother McCann for leading the retirees and helping us keep this hall in good condition, with all the improvements that your retirees helped us finance. I am sure Annie has many projects at home to keep you more than busy, enjoy!! Along with thanking the outgoing, I would like to thank the incoming. Welcome Duane Ballard, Financial Secretary; Anthony Odom, Trustee; Tim Hauck, ACC Unit Chair; Willie Wallace, Flint Tool & Die Unit Chair; Kyle Vroman, PTL Unit Chair and Don Gaby, Retiree Chairman. The Executive Board is glad to have you on board. The meetings are suspended for the summer months, enjoy the great Michigan weather and stay safe. We look forward to seeing you in September at the next scheduled membership meeting. In Solidarity...
Hello Sisters and Brothers, At a meeting held at Region 1-C on April 29, 2014, Mark Schauer officially became the UAW Endorsed Candidate to lead our charge to unseat our non-labor friendly, one-term, Governor Rick Snyder. I know I have said it 100 times if not more, but the November election is more important than any we have experienced in this state in many years. The stakes are our middle class way of life, the future of our children and grandchildren, our retiree's pension taxations and so called senior taxes (the governor needs to be ashamed of himself for this one act alone). These, on top of all his other misdeeds against the citizens of this state need to be addressed at the ballot box - it's time for a change. So again I say reach out to your network of friends, family, or anyone you interact with, because it's going to take all of us together to accomplish our goal in November. I feel a victory when we follow this recipe and I know we can do it, so let's keep adding the ingredients for victory to make Mark Schauer our new Governor. At the UAW Health and Safety Conference, future President Elect Dennis Williams announced to the delegates that the Retirees Vision and Dental will be restored, information has since been communicated that January 1, 2015 is the date for restoration, more details are to follow. This is great news for all of our UAW family - active and retired. Again, I can proudly say "thank you UAW" for all you do and have done for the membership all these years. Congratulations are in order for outgoing Chairman Don Reinhart of the Flint Metal Center Unit and outgoing Chairman Jack Terrill of the Flint Tool and Die Unit. Both of these Brothers were presented the highest award the UAW has to offer, the distinguished Walter Reuther Award. The awards were presented to them on Sunday, May 18, 2014 at their Unit and Joint Council Meeting. Thank you gentlemen for your service to this Union. Remember, June 8, 2014 is Member Appreciation Day. Refreshments and festivities are being planned in the pavilion after the swearing-in. All are welcome. In closing, I would like everyone to reflect on the sacrifices our veterans have made for us. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers, they need and deserve our support. Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day Weekend. Yours in Solidarity.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, I hope winter is finally leaving us because I am certainly ready for some good weather. I'm sure you are also. Our General Elections are over and the Districts are winding down. I would like to congratulate all the members who were elected to their positions and thank the members who did participate in the greatest honor of all, the democratic process. The right to run for a position and let your voice be heard - that is something we can always be proud of. That same enthusiasm that permeated this Local now needs to be transferred to the state level. Our Governor has showed the Middle Class what he thinks about us and the senior citizens that he has continued to attack. We are finally getting the opportunity to let our voices be heard through the voting process. Casting our vote can be the great equalizer to make right the disrespectful way that this Governor has treated all of us. The summer will not only heat up for our outdoor activities, it will be time to turn up the heat on Snyder and the not-so-friendly legislature that continues to offer us set-back legislation. Let's stand together. Let's make an effort that will resound across America as we put our boots on the ground to elect a new Governor, Mark Schauer, to straighten out the upside-down politics in Lansing. Moving forward, the UAW Local 659 Officers and Executive Board will be sponsoring a Membership Appreciation Celebration. It will be held on June 8, 2014 after the swearing in of the newly elected leadership and Joint Council Delegates from all of our units. The swearing in will be done by Director Elect Gerald Kariem as of this date. All are welcome and tentative plans will be to have this event in the pavilion if weather permits. Watch the Searchlight for more information concerning this event. Thanks again to the Membership of this great Local for giving the Officers and Executive Board your vote of confidence to continue representing you for the next 3 years. That speaks volumes for the job we try to do everyday to provide services, programs, and information to the membership. Your support is greatly appreciated.
Hello Sisters and Brothers,
Spring is near, believe it or not. Winter has had a grip this year not felt since 1977 – 78.
General Elections have been set. Good luck to all who sign-up.
The Democratic process is alive and well at Local 659 at a Committee Action Program (CAP) held recently it was announced that a rally was being scheduled for March 7th, 2014 called Snyder Holes. This was in reference to all the potholes around the State that the Governor has chosen to take money away from maintaining roads. I.E. The 1.8 billion surplus raised on the backs of taxing senior pensions, cutting school funding, cutting homestead property, taxes also lowering the earned Income Tax Credit from 20% to 6%. Every time I write an article this guy will be a topic until we can get him the rest he deserves by electing Mark Shauer Governor. I know that the Republicans are outspending Labor Friendly Candidates by an unprecedented amount but I also know that money will not outwork boots on the ground. That is a proven fact. The majority of citizens are middle class working people just trying to take care of their families, proud men and women not looking for a hand-out. Seems like a certain few have gotten the wrong idea’s about Labors resolve to fight the inadequacy our Governor has put onto our backs these last few years. He will with the help of us all be making his concession speech come November.
I would like to take the time to thank Retirees Chair John McCann for his 50+ years of service to this Local Union. Over the last years I have gotten to know John as someone you can believe in and trust. He and his Retiree Chapter has helped not just the Local Officers, but the whole 659 Membership as they have always been splitting cost on the many improvements we have done over the last 3 years. I and the entire Executive Board, staff and Officers of Local 659 tip our hats to Brother McCann for all his hard work and dedication to this Local. May God guide your steps as you transition into whatever Annie wants you to fix. Good Luck and God Bless.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, February 2nd through the 5th, I had the honor of attending the UAW National Community Action Program, which was held in Washington, D.C. Throughout the conference 3 main topics were discussed; minimum wage, extending emergency unemployment compensation, and fair trade (specifically the Trans Pacific Partnership). In all discussions, the message was clear, you are in the Nation's Capital, on the Hill. Your lawmakers are there and you have the right and responsibility to go to their offices and discuss all issues pertaining to the American people; like minimum wage/EUC, also how some issues like fair trade affects our livelihood, and no fast track on TPP. This conference is an excellent exercise of Democracy and the ability to lobby as a group to make our voices heard. At the conference, it was announced that the organizing in Chattanooga, Tennessee of VW was coming to a vote. As we know at this writing, that campaign was close (712 to 626), but not successful. The Republican Legislators and Koch Brothers came out with everything they had to intimidate and harass the workers to get the majority to vote no out of fear of retaliation. God only knows what other threats were hurled at these workers. But we will keep the fight going, helping the workers Unionize. On February 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm the Local 659 Black History Committee had their Grand Celebration and entertained to a packed auditorium. The committee, led by Chairperson, Karen Barbee, thanked everyone for supporting the fundraiser and the committee for all their hard work. Karen also thanked all the membership who brought dishes. It was a beautiful event. Also in recognition of Black History, Black Historian Brother Donald Talbert has a display of History showing at the Brennan Center from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Stop by until February 28th and support his event, I will be.
Hello Brothers and Sisters,
Happy New Year, I hope everyone had and enjoyed a great holiday. As we transition into 2014, let us not forget the work we need to continue to elect Labor-friendly candidates in our house and senate. We also need to continue the fight to change the governorship to a candidate who will work for the people, all the people, not just the 1% or the big businesses. These last few years with Governor Snyder in office have truly taken away many gains that we have fought for over the last 70 years. I believe that now that the people of this state have endorsed his term of office, they have a better understanding of his goals to destroy labor, and how they negatively impact the seniors of this state. At the same time, these goals help the rich business buddies in his circle of favoritism. Sometimes I wonder if he's that out of touch with regular people because he just doesn't care about the plight of our less fortunate citizens. Is it because he can buy anything he wants that the governor vetoes programs to help the less fortunate citizens? Unless we are millionaires, I guess we won't have that vantage point to look from. But one would think being in a position to help the less fortunate, unemployed and senior citizens who have paid the price all their working lives - it should be a no-brainer. But alas, that is what we have currently in the Lansing Capitol and that is why our work needs to continue until the job is done. On another note, the 659 Black History Committee, chaired by Karen Barbee, would like to thank everyone who bought dinners and thank the Committee for all their hard work in making the event possible. At their Annual MLK fundraiser held January 17, 2014 from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., the Committee sold over 400 dinners. These proceeds will go toward their grand celebration scheduled for February 16, 2014 at the Local Hall. Also, on January 16th. Grandmaster Clay held sign-ups for his Self-Defense/Physical Fitness Class. Classes are on-going and are $20.00 per class, lasting 1 hour. Few sign-ups are still available. You can contact the Union Hall for more information. On Tuesday, February 11, 2014 Region 1-C will observe White Shirt Day, in honor of the 1937 Sit-Down Strikers and their families. The event will be held at UAW Local 599 in Flint. The program will begin at 11:00 a.m. followed by a commemorative lunch of bean soup, bread and apples. Hope to see you there.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! May your holidays be bright and your future brighter. Thanks so much for your support in 2013 as the Local has again been a pillar of strength for the communities and charities in the city, county and also where tragedies may occur anywhere in the State or the Nation. Local 659 members have always stood up and been counted. We, the Officers and Staff, consider it a real privilege and an honor to represent the Local 659 membership. Transitioning into 2014, we will meet more challenges as Right-To-Work looms and the anti-union Governor and his friends are waiting for their walking papers. Only we, as Organized Labor, along with our Retirees who have been dealt unfair taxes on pensions, can give him those walking papers in the next election. As we make our resolutions for 2014, attend your Union meetings, sign up for GimmeFIVE, remind family members to register and to vote. These seem like some of the topics that stand out as being at the top of the list. The media has announced that the UAW, after over 30 years, is considering raising union dues 1/2 hour. We are one of the major unions that have not had a dues increase. The timing is not the best, but the leadership was told that if dues were raised, all monies would go into the Strike Fund. This seems like sound reasoning. It makes the fund as strong as possible as we approach the 2015 contract bargaining and displays our strength to the corporations that we are still a viable force to be reckoned with. The media would have us divided and fighting over a proposal that has not been agreed to by the membership at this time. Any changes would take place at our constitutional convention, which will be held in Detroit in June 2014. More information will be forthcoming as the International Union adheres to being transparent and letting the membership be an integral part of the process. On another note, the Santa Christmas Party was a huge success. Thanks go out to the Recreation Committee for the fantastic job they did, led by Vice-President Steve Gruener. This event was the biggest I've seen in recent memory, thanks to the membership who took the time to bring their children and grandchildren to participate, have fun, and take a picture with Santa and Mrs. Claus (Glen and Tammy Byrtus)... Thank you! Also, thanks go to the Black History Committee for putting on the Black and White fundraiser led by Karen Barbee, what a great event. Thanks to all the membership who contributed and came out to enjoy a great time. Remember, this event goes to fund our Grand Celebration held in February 2014. Watch the Searchlight for more details. Speaking of upcoming events and fundraisers, the Black History Committee will again hold their annual Martin Luther King barbecue fundraiser on Friday, January 17, 2014. Contact a Black History Committee member for more details. Condolences go out to all of our deceased members and their families who we may have lost in 2013. Local 659 keeps you in our hearts and prayers. In Solidarity....
Hello Brothers and Sisters, Happy Thanksgiving, I hope that your holiday is filled with joy, plenty of turkey, dressing, and a real chance to relax with family and friends. To the hunter, have a great time in the beautiful Michigan woods, keep safety first, and hope your hunt is successful. I recently attended a Leadership meeting, which was held in Dearborn, MI. The following changes were discussed and voted on by the Administrative Caucus; Region 1-C and 1-D will be combining with Region 1-D Director, Gerald Kariem being the Director of the combined regions. No name has been chosen for the new Region at this time of the merger. Director Gerald Kariem's leadership style is similar to current Director Norwood Jewell's leadership style and will only make this merger stronger for the UAW, our membership, and communities where we live and work in. No decision has been made on staffing changes and our Servicing Representatives will remain as they are today. The merger will not have any adverse effects to our Local, as we still have our own autonomy. I look forward to working with Region 1-D staff and helping the transition as we move forward to now being the number 3 Region in size. As we educate our members on our rich heritage and our continued fight against "Right to Work," let us stay focused as we gear up for the 2014 campaign to take back our House and Senate and to make Governor Snyder a one-termer. Looking forward to battle alongside our 1-D brethren. Other changes include; Director Norwood Jewell is slated to be the next Vice President Elect. Dennis Williams, current Financial Secretary/Treasurer, is slated to be the next President Elect of the UAW, taking the place of Retiring President Bob King. Director Gary Casteel out of Region 8 will be slated to take Dennis Williams' position as Financial Secretary/Treasurer Elect. Cindy Estrada will be up in her current assignment. Jimmy Settles will remain V.P. over the Ford Department and General Holiefield, who is V.P. over Chrysler, will retire and his spot is not going to be filled as of now. All these changes will not take effect until ratified at the 2014 Constitutional Convention. Remember, December's meeting will be our General Membership meeting, mandated by our constitution and all Units will be reporting out, with Director and Vice President Elect Norwood Jewell being our guest speaker. Remember to bring an American-Made toy to be given to Toys for Tots. In Solidarity.....
Sisters and Brothers, Fall weather is upon us and old man winter is just around the corner. Last month was very busy for the Local, October 1st and 2nd UAW Region 1-C held their Annual CAP Leadership Conference in East Lansing. Discussions centered around Right to Work, Family Medical Leave, and the latest topic in the country, the Affordable Care Act, and as we know it "Obama Care." This law, which was upheld by the Supreme Court, has been the main reason why the Republican House did not want to fund the government (by defunding Affordable Care Act) and were looking to have the greatest country in the world shut down by not raising the debt ceiling - in effect, holding the American people and the President hostage. President Obama stood his ground and stood fast while these ridiculous tactics were played out at a cost of billions and furloughed countless federal workers for 16 days. There seems to be a major disconnect in the Congress, these are tactics to defund a law that clearly has been needed in this country for many years. Health Care is a right that all Americans should have access to, not just the rich, but the poor, and all walks of life in this great country. My opinion, as I watched our Congress attempt to use all the dirtiest tactics available in order to derail the Affordable Care Act, is that it showed a clear hatred for the man who is credited with its existence. Our President is the author of the act that has these Republicans so annoyed and hell bent on doing whatever they can to stop it becoming a part of our way of life, just like social security and Medicare. These programs are a necessary part of our way of living in America. Obama Care will also have its place in our American way of life. No amount of politics, however you want to cloak it, is strong enough to prevent the program from being implemented. I applaud our President on sticking to his principles and not giving in to the Right Wing Tea Parties and the nimble minded views of a few that could topple the dreams of millions. The local will in the future have seminars to educate our members on the Affordable Care Act, which for the majority of our members will have little effect, if any. For many in need, the insurance seminars can help them understand the benefits - as they may have family that doesn't yet have a clear understanding of the program. Also, on October 12th through the 16th, I attended the IPS Conference in Cincinnati, Ohio. Cindy Estrada put on a powerful conference and our delegates from ACC/AI had a great learning experience that can only enhance our leadership in our IPS units.
Hello Sisters and Brothers, I have traveled to Washington D.C. for marches, rallies, and protests numerous times over the years, but my trip on August 24 was the most amazing and self-fulfilling march that I have ever been a part of. My group, along with tens of thousands of marchers from across the United States, included buses filled with marchers sponsored by Region 1-C, the UAW, many labor organizations, civil rights groups, faith based organizations, and teachers. All of which descended on the Nation's Capital in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington held in 1963 that featured the "I have a Dream" speech by Martin Luther King. My fulfillment was the once in a lifetime chance to be a part of something great, that began initially when I was 5 years old. My group as well as the members who rode the buses, planes, trains, or came by car as I did, felt a part of history. Electricity was in the air, from your first step onto the grounds of the National Mall, the unity among thousands of people was amazing. Solidarity permeated through the massive throngs of people. Never in my previous trips had I seen such a crowd as far as the eyes could see. Bottlenecks of marchers were moving slowly, little steps at a time to plant a chair or blanket wherever they could find space. This was such an overwhelming event that the participants will talk about it for years to come. It will become one of the stories you tell to your children and grandchildren, just like the marches from 1963 have been telling their kids for the last 50 years. This was a very historic event that will only continue to keep the dream alive. We should all be able to agree, we have made some great strides since the original march in 1963. The election of President Barack Obama stands out as an example of this; he also gave a speech on August 28, the actual date of the 1963 march. Whether you made the journey August 24 or August 28, the feeling transcended time and you have a much cherished lifetime memory. I am glad I was able to attend and share a few thoughts with the membership. America is the greatest country in the world where dreams, whatever they may be, can come true. In the words of Congressman John L. Lewis, the only surviving speaker from the 1963 march, that spoke at the 50th anniversary, "We cannot give up, we cannot give out, and we cannot give in." Sounds a lot like our 1936-37 Sitdowners. As mentioned in previous Searchlights, Local 659 will be accepting sign-ups for self-defense classes being offered by Retired 659 member, Master John Clay. Please call the hall for more details.
Hello Brothers and Sisters; I hope everyone is enjoying the last days of summer. Before you know it, the kids will be back in school and the leaves on the trees will begin turning beautiful colors. Most importantly, the Joint Council meetings will begin in September. Local 659 is poised for a very busy year and aggressive fight against Right to Work and Governor Snyder's non-re-elect bid. With the membership's help and support, we can make him a one termer and re-establish ourselves in the House and Senate. Speaking of the end of summer, UAW Region 1-C will host their Labor Day Ceremony on Monday, September 2, 2013 at 9:30 am in the Sit-Downers Memorial Park. As is customary, they will honor the Sit-Downers and their participate in the Great Sit-Down Strike of 1936-1937. Following the ceremony. Local 659 will be the host site for the Sit-Downers Reunion Breakfast here at the hall, served promptly at 10:30 am. Tickets this year are free for the Gimme5 members, $10 for Retirees, $5 for children, and $12 for all others. Local 659 was honored Wednesday, August 14th by Congressman Dan Kildee at the Genesee County Labor Recognition Dinner. Congressman Kildee recognized the UAW and other Mid-Michigan Labor Unions that give their time and money to not just our members, but to our community and other communities around the county that suffer from disasters. Thank you, Local 659 Members, for all that you do. Recently, the Local has inquired about an asbestos screening being conducted in the Flint area. The Local does not have any affiliation with the company doing this screening. I would just like to remind our Retirees who brought most of the inquiries, as well as some of the active members, to be careful with giving out any of your personal information. I am not a medical doctor, but if I felt ill I would consult my own physician who I have known for many years. I'm just reminding members of the old "caveat emptor" - let the buyer beware. On a more positive note, inside this issue of the Searchlight, you will read an introduction to our new Chaplain, Richard Mallard. Our Local has been without a chaplain for many years and I know that the membership will welcome and embrace Chaplain Mallard as much as the Officers and I have in his new position. May you have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day. In Solidarity....
Hello Brothers and Sisters, Hope you are still enjoying the summer, despite the recent heat wave. Sunday, July 21, the Local 659 Recreation Committee hosted its inaugural Bike Run to Benefit the Old Newsboys. Thanks goes out to the Committee and all the riders who participated. Great Job! The membership is always interested in bringing classes to the membership that might enhance their quality of life. On the horizon is a self-defense class for our membership and their families, taught by one of the Local 659's own, 6th Degree Grand Master Johnny Clay. Watch the Searchlight for more details. In the 49th District race State Representative (vacated by the election of Jim Ananich to the Michigan Senate), the endorsement from the Flint CAP, UAW, is to support Phil Phelps in the August 6th Primary. One of his platforms is to fight to reverse the taxes on retiree pensions and make sure big corporations pay their fair share. He also will fight to repeal Right to Work. He is a candidate who we can depend on to take labor's message to the legislature. The 11th Annual, CCA Old Newsboys Christmas is September 15, 2013 at Flushing Valley Country Club. Mark your calendar and come out to support this worthwhile cause.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, I hope all the fathers out there had a Happy Father's Day. Friday evening, on June 7th, the Local 659 Executive Board took part in an action for Walmart employees. We asked shoppers going in and out of the store to sign a petition, asking that Walmart Managers not intimidate, threaten or retaliate against Walmart workers who speak out for better pay, more hours and respect at work. We collected over 100 signatures from shoppers before the police were called to halt our action. They asked us to leave on behalf of Walmart managers who practice unfair labor tactics on a daily basis. The UAW along with other Labor Unions supports the effort to help Walmart workers who cannot speak out for themselves, for fear of being fired. We understand that workers have families, and jobs are hard to come by. Labor Unions speak out for Sisters and Brothers to help them achieve better working conditions. These actions are not done to hurt Walmart's profit, they are done to bring awareness to the public, that Walmart, one of the biggest corporations in the U.S., still practice management styles of the 1936-37 Sit-Down Eras. With enough public pressure, by signing petitions, it can change the way the company treats their employees. I know a lot of our members shop at Walmart. You have to shop where your money goes the furthest, and I understand that. But when you do shop, take the time to talk to the manager, ask them to treat the employees fairly. Tell them even though I shop here, I also support the fair treatment of employees. If you can say that when you shop, the message will continue. If you are not abusive, the managers should not ask you to leave the store, it's only being a concerned human being. Anytime other actions are called for our Local to participate in, and if you are available, you can send us your email, we will put you on our list of actions, to help keep our Union message strong. My condolences go out to Retiree Chairman John McCann on the loss of his son, Scott McCann. May God keep you and your family in His loving arms.
Hello Brothers and Sisters, Summer is finally here, beautiful weather abounds. As you are vacationing and enjoying the sunshine, be aware of your surroundings and be careful on the highways. As you probably know, Joint Council and Membership meetings are cancelled for the months of June, July and August. I'm looking forward to seeing you in September. Local Events to Remember On Tuesday, June 4th at 5 p.m., Local 659, on behalf of Region 1-C, will be hosting an event for retired Congressman Dale Kildee who will be presented an Honorary UAW Membership. The UAW Local 659 Black History Committee will be hosting an All-White Summer Breeze Cabaret, Saturday, June 8, 2013, from 8:00 pm to 1:00 am, tickets are $10.00. The theme this year is to wear WHITE apparel and all are encouraged to attend. This event helps fund the Grand Celebration done in February, celebrating Black History month at the Local. Flint Metal Center (FAB) is hosting their 10th Annual Retirement get together Saturday, June 15th, 2013 from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the UAW Local 659 Pavilion. In case of rain, it will be moved to the auditorium. Please, come out and join the fun, meet and greet old acquaintances. It's always a great time. Let's make this year's event a must do, bring a favorite dish if you like. For more information contact Ruth or Clovis Watts at 810-694-1055. A photographer will be in attendance to capture the memories. See you all there. Kudos to V.P. Steve Gruener for coordinating the Red Wings Trip and photos on center ice. Great job, the membership along with myself had a great time. Hope everyone has a safe and Happy Memorial Day. And for all the fathers out there Happy Father's Day. I hope you enjoy time with your families. In Solidarity....
Hello Sisters and Brothers, Spring is slowly rolling in, bringing all the rain for the flowers with it. Another thing spring brings for us to do is cleaning. I would like to ask this membership to help us with a special project that I think would be very helpful to the future leaders of our next generation. Last February, I was invited to speak at a Black History Program at Manley School, which is a Pre-K Head Start School, so students are under 5 years old. As I addressed the students, I realized that this was going to be one of my hardest audiences, for they were as fresh as new dew in the morning. Completely unaware of the Union or job that I do, but you have to start them early. After speaking to this group, I saw a need that we as Union Members could possibly help these "little leaders" by sending them a message on what we do as a Union. While doing your spring cleaning and you have boys and girls clothes that are in good condition, could you possibly make sure you wash them and bring them over to the Union Hall? We will have a bin set up for receiving them. I have talked to a few of the staff and know that there is a need, and what I would like our members to realize is that UAW members, we are tied to our communities and whatever assistance we can offer, I am sure would be greatly appreciated. I'm sure our Local can make a difference and we can help these "little leaders." I look forward to doing other projects to help the community and our own membership. Example; many of our Retired members, for whatever reason, have taken on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren. I'm sure if we had a project put together to help those members, it would be helpful. Some Retirees have been retired for many years, and with the Republican Governor steadily taking money (i.e. pensions, taxes, no dependents deductions), these added costs make it even harder to raise a second family of grandchildren after first raising your own children. We would like your feedback on these projects, so please, call the Local. Planning for clothes donations, we will need volunteers to help with the sorting and storing of sizes - girls - boys - etc. As a great Local, we can do anything we set out to do. The membership is greatly appreciated by the Local and the community. We never stop giving, and that just goes to show our concern and our willingness to make a difference in our fellow Brothers' and Sisters' lives. If they're in need, we try to find a way to help them, Union or not. It's called moral character that we exhibit as 659 members, day in and day out.
Hello Sisters and Brothers,
Warm weather is on the way and unfortunately Right-To-Work Legislation will arrive in Michigan March 27. Trainings for Right to Work will be offered at the Local, dates and times will be announced. Also, March 27 the Women’s Committee will be hosting a program honoring Women’s History Month at 10 AM and 3:30 PM and they will do the first showing of “Brothers on the Line” a documentary by Sasha Reuther, the Grandson of Victor Reuther. This movie explores the legacy of pioneering Labor Leaders Walter, Roy and Victor Reuther. A must see for UAW members, it chronicles the fight in is rawest form. A very powerful movie especially in light of Right to Work starting in Michigan.
Congratulations to all the members of the diversity luncheon committee coordinated by Patti Lewis at Flint Metal Center and the Flint Engine South team that held their Black History Luncheon in the plant that were both overwhelming successes. Thanks for all your hard work, the membership really appreciates your efforts. I especially want to thank the Local 659 Black History Committee for their excellent program this year held on February 17 that included my roast. That was such a humbling experience and I cannot put into words what a great recognition the event was for me and also my family. Thank you Karen Barbee, Chairperson and the whole committee for the honor.