District Committeeperson and Supervisor Training

Recently, the International union, Ford and Visteon sent the supervisors and committeepersons at each facility to an extensive training session. Representatives from the highest levels of each of these organizations recognized that the union committeepersons and the supervisors are on the front lines in all of the Ford and Visteon facilities. They whole-heartedly expressed their appreciation to all of us who come in closest daily contact with the workforce. Many of the presenters talked about how long overdue this training was.

The biggest focus was on the importance of obtaining a level of unsurpassed quality in the future for both companies; Ford and Visteon. The company and the union want to continue following the "Best-In-Class" Quality Program that was incorporated during the 1987 negotiations. The theme behind the quality portion of the conference was to reinforce the language contained in the "living documents" in Appendix Q of the National Agreement permitting the parties to continuously improve, support and expand the UAW-Ford "Best-In-Class" Quality program outside the normal collective bargaining process. The two main processes our membership needs to be concerned with are: the Quality Concern Resolution Process and the Stop Button Process. 

The Quality Concern Resolution Process was developed in the 1996 negotiations and agreed to by both parties. The following steps should be taken: 
* The employee with a concern should talk to the supervisor first. If requested, the quality representative or the committeeperson can assist in a resolution if necessary.
* If unresolved, the concern will be documented on the appropriate form (obtained by your District Committeeperson or Quality Rep.) for further discussion with area management. Either party may request members of the local quality committee to assist in the resolution of the concern.

* If unresolved, the local quality committee will address the concern.

* If the concern is still unresolved, it will be referred, at the request of either party, to the Operations/Division Quality Committee for resolution.

* If the concern is still unresolved, it will be referred, at the request of either party, to the UAW-Ford National Quality Committee for discussion and resolution. The UAW-Ford National Quality Committee may refer unresolved concerns to the Quality Improvement Steering Committee.

The Stop Button Process involves two primary goals:

* All plants have a contractual obligation to establish a process that allows employees to raise quality concerns and stop the operation when necessary. A specific listing of contractual requirements is provided in Attachment A.

* Currently, Vehicle Operations facilities utilize a variety of Stop Button Processes with varying degrees of effectiveness. A summary of best practices is provided in Attachment B.

Aside from being a contractual obligation, the joint parties, union and company reminded all locations that a robust Stop Button Process, is an essential ingredient toward continuous improvement in the quality of our products to meet customer needs and expectations. Absolute expertise in quality workmanship is essential from our UAW members. It will be what separates us from the rest of the competition, and gains us the reputation we need to both retain and obtain new business.
The training session for Health and Safety Awareness dealt with the importance of maintaining safety for you, your family and your coworkers. We discussed hazards in the work place that in an instant can destroy lives. The speakers talked about the 89 fatalities that have taken place in Ford and Visteon facilities from 1973-2000. They further discussed the importance of taking the time to lock out machinery and equipment, wearing the proper apparel, utilizing pedestrian walkways and other safe practices that prevent accidents. There is a renewed committement from the union and the company and it is a clear message, "To dramatically improve in the area of safety even if that means disciplining..." Again, this was supported and encouraged from both the International union and company.
The Employee Support Services Program training session focused on becoming aware of what the (EAP) Employee Assistance Plan is. The program provides assistance in the form of counseling, other types of support or professional assistance. All of this is voluntary and confidential and are offered to help improve your family's lifestyle whether in a time of need or not. Some issues dealt with in this program include:
* Personal problems
* Marital/family Issues
* Managed Care
* Support Groups

We also discussed several other programs associated with Employee Support Services: Health Promotion Programs (Wellness Programs) dealing with Healthy life styles through courses and seminars. On Site Rehabilitation Center/Fitness Centers because of the importance of professionally equipped and staffed rehabilitation centers that provide high quality physical rehabilitation in a caring and effective manner. The on site fitness centers recognize the importance of exercise and exercise education that help workers achieve personal physical and mental fitness. Elder Care assistance is provided in the form of recourses and referrals identifying, educating and addressing elder care issues. If anyone needs more information please contact our local ESSP Representatives Elaine Thrower (429-6984) or Bob Belaire (429-6948).
Another major training session at the conference involved basic grievance handling and the "Kansas City Procedure." The Kansas City Procedure deals with the review of a disputed work assignment by operators on the line and how it should be handled. There is a form to fill out by the committeeperson while an interview takes place between the supervisor, the operator and the committeeperson. It should be noted that a formal written 1st stage grievance must be brought forward within 3 working days of the date the violation occurred. The aggrieved, the person requesting the filing of a grievance, needs to be familiar with what the contractual violation was, where and when the violation took place and whom the protested is. After this information is given to the committeeperson he/she does and investigation to make sure the grievance has merit. If it is determined that the grievance has merit it is processed through the first oral discussion with the supervisor of the aggrieved. If no grant is recorded at the first oral it is given to the area superintendent of the aggrieved to be heard. Once denied at this level, the grievance advances to the bargaining level. At this level, the bargaining representative in the area hears this with labor relations in the second stage of the grievance procedure. At any time during this process, the grievance could be granted in full or in part. However granted, the procedure stops, and the necessary steps are taken to ensure the aggrieved receives the full benefit of the grant.
Our last session pertained to the Attendance Improvement Program (AIP) as it exists now. In the 1999 National negotiations, the International union and the Company agreed to reopen the AIP program for review during the life of the contract. (Volume IV Letters of Understanding pg. 26) Negotiating parties concluded that the program (Appendix L Volume I) was not effective. The presenters went on to explain that the program would be considerably strengthened effective on or before August 1st 2002. Currently, each location has the option to develop a pilot program or adopt the joint national policy in existence today. The attendance progression policy for the hourly employees with 10 years seniority and under will definitely change from our current system to a stricter one. Stay tuned for further details to be released from our International union at a later date. Once again, the contract that was ratified in September of 2000 stated that the parties would review the attendance program in the middle of the contract to decide if it is working. It was determined from all the data compiled that our attendance program for 10 years and under is not working.

The training we received was well presented and informative. We are pleased to share the information with our membership.

In Solidarity,
Bill Eaddy and Kathy Kruger
District Committee