UAW Local 2151
In the hard knock days Ford used Harry Bennet
and his gang of thugs to execute control and inflict
intimidation. Under the influence of William Clay
Ford the company has become more sophisticated.
Today Ford uses the Central Diagnostic and Referral
Agency as its preferred means of repression. Union
members who are vocal about their rights, who demand
the company follow the contract and the union
represent them are put out on a psyche-medical by
Labor Relations fiat. I couldn't believe it, but
within a week I heard from three different members
in three different Ford plants. Their stories are
eerily the same.
The pattern reveals a policy of harassment. All
three members were put on medical by Labor Relations
without a doctor's permission and ordered to undergo
a psychological evaluation by a company appointed
psychiatrist before they could return. All three
were considered dissidents by union and management.
Two had expressed their intentions to run for
elective union positions. In each case union
officials supported, assisted, and/or instigated the
action. None of the people I spoke to had acted
violently or made threats. Here's how it works.
Ford has a joint committee called Behavioral
Emergency and Critical Incident Debriefing [BE/CISD]
which includes the union appointed Employee Support
Services Person better known in some companies as
EAP. The purpose of the committee is to debrief the
victims of traumatic events like a power plant
explosion where the grievances filed against the
fatal boiler disappear in the blast and six workers
die from what some may call negligent homicide. The
committee is also empowered to handle behavioral
emergencies as when someone acts violently or makes
threats. In a diabolical twist of jointness Ford and
the UAW are using the program to silence dissent.
Apparently if you don't believe in the Ford
Production System and the mandates of their
appointed union officials, you must be crazy.
I have chosen not to reveal the victims' names
in this article as litigation may be pending.
Neither do I wish to instigate further harassment
of these individuals nor exacerbate their troubles.
The purpose of this article is to examine the
pattern of harassment, alert other union members,
and network with other victims who more than likely
are feeling isolated and powerless against the
The first person I spoke to is a woman and
former committee person with a reputation for
fighting back. She doesn't believe in rolling over
and neither the company nor union officials like it.
She's assertive, indomitable, and says, "I talk to
men the same way they talk to me".
I talked with her
on the phone for more than sixty minutes in two
separate conversations and I never heard her cuss.
But I also had the impression she could go toe to
toe and nose to nose with any union tough or company
thug. She's been out of work more than six months for
refusing to knuckle under to their psychological
intimidation. The time off hasn't softened her up
one bit. She's a line worker to the core and she'll
be walking a hard line until the Final Whistle blows
her time card sky high.
The director of TEAM Inc.,
contracted by the Central Diagnostic & Referral
Agency, tried to finagle her into submitting to the
psyche evaluation. She asked why he was willing to
compromise the integrity of the Employee Support
Services Program by allowing management to use it
as a disciplinary tool. She shamed him into writing
a note to Labor Relations recommending she be
allowed to return to work.
Labor Relations ignored
the recommendation and put her out of the plant. The
official local union has done nothing to support her.
Indeed they recommend she follow orders and submit.
She stands alone yet feels her principles and her
dignity are inviolable.
The second UAW member I spoke with is a middle
age black male with over 25 years seniority. I
interviewed him in person for a good hour. He was
easy going, even tempered, and once again didn't use
a cuss word or even refer to his persecutors in
derogatory terms. He was calm, articulate, and
evidently well educated in unionism. He intended to
run for union office.
The day after he expressed
disagreement with the Local Union president at a
union meeting he was called into Labor Relations.
Naturally he asked for his union rep to be present.
With the consent of the union he was put on medical
by Labor Relations pending a psychological
evaluation. He complied. The psychiatrist found
nothing wrong, but he still wasn't allowed to return
to work until the NLRB got involved.
From the NLRB
official he learned that his union rep had written a
statement asserting that the defendant suffered Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder from his experience in
Vietnam. He never went to Vietnam. He graduated from
high school in 1974. It was three months before he
was able to return to work. Then the company
restricted his access to most areas of the plant and
he was unable to counter the smear campaign staged
The third person I talked with was a middle age
white male and a skilled tradesman with more than 15
years seniority. Once again, I found he was not the
type to resort to abusive language. He too had made
known his intention to run for union office.
Apparently the only thing he was guilty of was "I
spoke my mind and disturbed the powers that be."
After repeated incidents of harassment he wrote a
letter to Labor Relations expressing his complaint.
"I didn't name names. I simply described the
situation." The next day he was called into Labor
Relations and the BE/CISD committee told him that
because threats had been made against him they were
going to put him out of the plant pending a
psychological evaluation. And Alice thought the
Queen of Hearts was nuts.
He went to three company appointed psychiatrists
and one independent psychiatrist and none of them
found anything wrong. Despite positive medical
recommendations he was not allowed to return to work
until he hired an attorney. He was out of work for
three months. His chance of winning a union election
had been effectively sabotaged.
This harassment policy doesn't simply repress
dissent, it also discredits the Employee Support
Services Program (ESSP). Just as some joint Health
& Safety committees discourage employees from reporting
injuries or writing grievances, Ford's abuse of the
joint BE/CISD committee contaminates the credibility
of the ESSP and discourages people from getting the
help they may need. It's joint cost containment at
the expense of union members health. Ford with the
assistance of union lackeys has turned the ESSP into
a ruthless instrument of psychological persecution.
If you or anyone you know has been victimized in
a similar fashion, please write to The Voice. A class
action lawsuit against Ford and their union buffoons
may be in order. But more importantly, a revolt is
in order. The insidious use of the medical
profession as a means of control and intimidation is
anti-union, anti-human, and morally repulsive. What
next? Electro Convulsive Shock for
dissidents? A thug is a thug is a thug, and the
henchman can't hide behind the kinder, gentler face
of the glossy and glamorous William Clay Ford.
In the thirties and forties workers organized to
evict Ford's goons with a collective force that
demanded dignity in the workplace for every
individual. Today, we need to expose Ford's new
method of control and intimidation for what it is:
psychological rape. We need to resist each and every
assault on our freedom and dignity. We need to
instigate a groundswell of activity that will
overwhelm the complicity of weak union officials. We
need to educate our brothers and sisters on their
rights and we need to defend those rights tooth and
nail. An injury to one is an injury to all is not a
slogan, it's a battle cry.
UAW Local 2151
[Above article redistributed with author's permission.]