AT ILLINOIS CHRYSLER PLANT
FIRED AND FIRED UP, "ENHANCED" TEMPORARY EMPLOYEES LAUNCH "ENHANCED
By Martha Grevatt
IMAGINE BEING one of 10,000 people applying for 1000 jobs. Imagine
five-hour written test, an eight-hour manual dexterity and physical
test, a background check, a medical exam, and a grueling interview.
abruptly quitting your current job because the DaimlerChrysler
informed you that you must report for work immediately -- you are one
This was the scenario earlier this year for hundreds of workers in
Illinois, buoyant at the good fortune of getting a job in auto. Their
exhilaration was tempered, to say the least, the day of their
they we informed that they were being hired as "Enhanced Temporary
An ETE is paid two-thirds the wage of a permanent hourly production
An ETE gets no raises, has no dental or vision coverage, no pension
and no sick pay. There is no health insurance for eight months, and
then it is
same as that of a permanent, UAW-represented employee. When
laid off, they cannot receive supplemental unemployment benefits or be
in the jobs bank; they have no recall rights; if they work fewer than
hours they do not receive short work pay. They have no seniority
almost no access to the grievance procedure -- and they can be fired
Sexual harassment is rampant; women who complain have been fired.
are commonplace, but injured workers have not been able to collect
compensation. They cannot collect unemployment because they are
unable to work.
Workers have literally collapsed while working the lines.
The most logical conclusion would be, "they ought to form a union."
they are already in a union. They were trapped in a web of deception
the DaimlerChrysler corporation (DCX) with the
cooperation of the
Illinois and the leadership of the United Auto Workers.
Much media fanfare accompanied the 2005 announcement by DCX that they
be adding 1000 jobs at the Belvidere assembly plant, with the launch of
Dodge Caliber. The launch had a hefty price tag -- $416 million to
Belvidere Assembly for the new model. The cost to DCX was reduced by
nearly 25 per
cent with close to $100
million in state "opportunity returns grants."
eleven months the well-kept secret, never disclosed to future workers
publicized in the media, was that the burden of further cost reductions
borne by "the chosen few."
"Nothing in the contract applies to us," Kathy Hungness -- one of the
so who were actually hired as Enhanced Temporary Employees -- told
World. Hired in June and kept in the dark about her temporary status
last minute, she was terminated in October. She's not just fired,
She's fired up and has organized rank-and-file ETEs into the group
She's not alone. Some 250 workers have been terminated so far, fifty
past week. They can apply for unemployment, but so far none have seen
and they cannot apply for emergency public assistance until their
unemployment is clarified.
They cannot go back to the jobs they gave
jobs are hard to find. "We have families to feed," stated Hungness,
throwing us away."
150 have joined Hungness in a class action lawsuit against DCX and the
with more joining every day. The first organizing meeting of Enhanced
was a huge success, with many volunteering for fundraising, membership,
tree, and community action committees. They hope to have a public
sometime in the future.
Hungness had a message for this writer, a 19-year DCX employee in
Ohio. "If we don't stand up for our rights that were broken here, this
come to you. Enough of concessions, enough, enough!"
Messages of support for Enhanced Fight can be sent to Sister Hungness