GM fires Flint workers over social media posts during strike

By
Jerry White

29 October 2019

In the after-effects of the United Vehicle Workers’ shutdown of the General Motors strike, the company has conducted vindictive firings of workers for their social networks posts during the 40-day walkout.

While the variety of taken advantage of employees is still uncertain, at least 3 were employees at the Flint Truck Assembly Plant, one of GM’s biggest and most profitable factories. One of the employees is Juan Gonzales, a 19-year veteran of General Motors, who was faced by GM Global Security when he arrived at work on Monday morning and required to labor relations where he was revealed photos from his Facebook page. Gonzales was then summarily fired.

In a post on his Facebook page Monday early morning, Gonzales wrote: “In labor ended! Do not post on any social media websites they, GM security out of Detroit are on them and everything I published during the entire strike was in a [m] anila envelope, everything. Stay off them!”

GM workers picket at Flint Assembly

during strike Gonzales is an outspoken employee who publishes talk about a number of Facebook pages where autoworkers speak up, including against the collusion of the UAW with the corporation. He was likewise spoken with on the picket line in front of the Flint Assembly plant several times by regional media. On the very first day of the strike, September 16, he denounced GM for making record revenues and giving workers absolutely nothing, telling an NBC 25 press reporter that the business “continues to make all the gains and we stay where we’re at.”

In an effort to validate this outrageous offense of free speech, the Detroit Free Press and other corporate media have reported unsubstantiated claims that the workers were fired for posting threatening messages on social media or presumably taking part in violent events on the picket line. The Free Press quotes an unnamed “person familiar with the terminations” stating, “It ties to bomb dangers and risks of real violence made on the line.”

The employees have actually refuted this slanderous lie. Among the victimized employees, who did not want his called utilized, informed the local ABC-TV affiliate that he was fired for publishing remarks that he was “going to crack some eggs” out of aggravation however he was not threatening any violence.

Gonzales and other employees are clearly being targeted for exercising their First Amendment rights and criticizing the huge corporation, which is shutting plants and damaging the incomes and neighborhoods of countless employees and condemning an entire generation to the status of low-paid short-term laborers. Workers have actually told the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter that GM Global Security representatives are utilizing fake profiles to troll personal social media pages and monitor employees’ remarks, and likewise should have scanned the regional media coverage of the strike.

“Evidently GM Global Security has individuals on every union and UAW page,” a worker at the FCA Jeep Assembly Plant in Toledo, Ohio informed the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter. “They challenged Juan with a folder filled with posts he made on 10 different pages.”

Another Toledo Jeep worker stated, “I didn’t discover anything nefarious when I researched Juan’s posts. The Detroit Free Press is reporting that all those being fired were prompting violence (requiring others to bring weapons to the strike line to stop scabs, etc). I personally have not seen one post or comment by anybody regarding anything of the sort.”

In its main statement, GM made it clear that it is meting out punishment to frighten employees who attempt withstand the dictatorial regime inside the factories that will be enforced by the UAW under the terms of the new agreement.

GM told Detroit’s 7 Action News, “We can verify the employees have actually been dismissed from Flint Assembly due to violations of company policy. Our staff member play a vital role in our success, and the new four-year labor arrangement recognizes those essential contributions with an industry-leading wage and benefit package. As we restart operations, we are moving on as one group and staying concentrated on our top priorities of safety and structure high quality automobiles for our clients.”

The firing of the Flint employees follows GM’s decision to fire nine militant employees at its Silao, Mexico plant who voted to defy company and union demands to increase production throughout the United States strike. The Silao workers make the same Silverado and Sierra trucks that United States employees build at the Flint Assembly and Ft. Wayne, Indiana plants.

Ford and Fiat Chrysler employees who have actually opposed the UAW sellout at GM and wish to combat concession needs are also being taken advantage of. A Fiat Chrysler worker informed the WSWS Autoworker Newsletter, “We were informed we will be fired if we publish anything on social media or talk with other workers about the upcoming agreement. At a plant conference they said we legacy workers are outlining versus the business and the union and put us on notification to be ended for talking with the more youthful generation of workers about contractual language and language arrangements.

“We have no one to turn to help us since the union is letting the business do whatever they wish to do to the workers no matter legal arrangements. The harassment runs out control. We are also being forced to overcome every break and told not to report injuries.”

The UAW International and Regional 598 officials in Flint have acknowledged that the firings have actually happened and made it clear they will do absolutely nothing to seriously battle this blatant attempt to intimidate employees. “All problems will be dealt with through our Regional Unions and our agreements’ grievance process which used throughout the work interruption,” the UAW International said in a statement to the local news media.

The reality is the UAW supports the business making examples of militant employees. During the strike, the UAW intentionally isolated the GM workers, keeping more than 100,000 Ford and Fiat Chrysler employees on the job in spite of GM’s usage of scabs, consisting of in Flint. Aware that it would face prevalent opposition, local union officials in Spring Hill, Tennessee called the authorities on workers campaigning versus the sellout agreement. Running roughshod over the democratic rights of workers, the UAW hurried through a series of ratification votes prior to employees had sufficient time to study and discuss the tentative arrangement, and after that revealed that the deal had passed by 56 to 44 percent, based upon big “yes” votes at plants like Flint Assembly, which workers charged were controlled.

Employees have every right to speak their minds and utilize social media to organize opposition, complimentary from the spying of the corporations and the UAW. That right is guaranteed by the First Change of the United States Constitution. It is likewise part of the 1935 National Labor Relations Act provision of “Protected Concerted Activity,” which guarantees the right of employees “to act together to attempt to improve their pay and working conditions, with or without a union.”

After getting numerous protests from workers complaining that their rights were being violated, in 2012 the NLRB found that a number of companies, including General Motors, had unlawfully breached federal labor law through their restrictive social media policy. GM stated that in spite of the NLRB’s suggestions, the business was not altering its policy, maintaining that it “complies with applicable laws.”

Rather, the UAW has actually upheld GM’s undemocratic social media guidelines, which “consists of publishing or forwarding posts including reports, destructive declarations, or negative comments towards GM or any of its staff members as discovered in our Local Contract Shop Guideline 30,” one local union composes.

Employees must require the reinstatement of all victimized employees, from Flint Assembly to Silao, Mexico. The fight versus the shooting and disciplining of militant workers and to protect the right to complimentary expression and cumulative resistance will not be guaranteed by the UAW. It can only be combated for through the building of rank-and-file factory committees, independent of the corrupt UAW, to mobilize all employees in opposition to the union-management dictatorship in the factories.

The WSWS Autoworker Newsletter urges call workers to attend the call-in conference Thursday, 7pm Eastern Time to go over the lessons of the GM strike. To register, go to: wsws.org/autocall

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