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Auto Workers Drinking, Getting High During Lunch

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Auto Workers Drinking, Getting High During Lunch

Workers from a Detroit Chrysler plant visited by President Obama two months ago were busted today for drinking and smoking pot on their lunch break. Although they're now suspended, a former employee tells us it won't change a thing.

The Jefferson North Assembly Plant is Chrysler's flagship manufacturing facility. The plant, home to production of the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, was visited by President Obama in July — just five days before an investigation by Fox 2 Detroit began that unveiled auto worker's engaging in the blue collar equivalent of the three martini lunch. When President Obama visited this plant that's supposed to represent the "new" Chrysler, he told America

"I believed that if each of us were willing to work and sacrifice in the short term — workers, management, creditors, shareholders, retirees, communities — it could mark a new beginning for a great American industry. And if we could summon that sense of teamwork and common purpose, we could once again see the best cars in the world designed, engineered, forged, and built right here in Detroit, right here in the Midwest, right here in the United States of America."

Unfortunately, a few of their employees look to still be stuck in old school stereotypes about organized labor.

The investigative report found a dozen employees were taking the 30-minute shift break they have at 11:00 am to drive to a public park and pound 40-oz beers, smoke weed, or do both at the same time. They then get in their cars, drive back to the plant presumably under the influence, and continue manufacturing cars.

Chrysler's Senior VP of Manufacturing, Scott Garberding, told Fox 2 saying they've suspended workers without pay pending the outcome of an investigation:

I want to make it clear that we at Chrysler take it very seriously. For us this behavior is totally unacceptable and will be dealt with swiftly. In fact, we've already identified a few of the people involved in this incident. Each of them has been suspended indefinitely, without pay, pending further investigation.

Unfortunately, this may not do much to change the culture of auto workers, says one longtime auto worker who spoke to us about the video.

"The problem is not really the drinking per se. The problem is when it happens the UAW turns a blind eye," says the Detroit resident who used to work in automobile manufacturing but wished to not be identified because of his close family ties to the United Auto Workers and friends still in the industry.

"My first week on the job I was teaching some classes at this plant, and the breaktime bell goes off to wake up the guys so they can take a break," he explains. "The trailer [i was in] was parked up right next to the plant window and I see this head go by, and it was this guy snorting coke back there. That was my first experience."

Like many Detroit residents, his two uncles and father were all UAW members and auto workers. But whereas is dad and older uncle were well respected, his younger uncle would constantly show up to work intoxicated or not show up at all. Because of the respect other workers had for his dad and uncle he was never seriously punished.

"Once my uncle passed away, my youngest uncle said 'I better retire' because he knew his older brother wouldn't be there to stick up for him."

"I remember seeing people get fired and would be shocked, and be like 'Oh my God' and some of the people who have been there longer are like 'don't worry, they'll be back,'" He told us. "Usually it was a few day suspension to put on a dog and pony show. They just turn a blind eye after a while."

The UAW, to its credit, issued a statement disapproving of the activity. Unfortunately, it also didn't offer to do anything about it or seem in any way regretful for the worker behavior:

The UAW strongly opposes the use of controlled substances or alcohol use on the job. This type of behavior jeopardizes the health and safety of all employees. We also recognize that, unfortunately, these behaviors exist in our society.

The UAW and the Chrysler Corporation work together to keep our workplaces drug and alcohol free, and to encourage employees with substance abuse problems to get the treatment they need. The employees involved in this situation do not represent the vast majority of workers at Chrysler who do a great job making high quality vehicles in some of the most productive manufacturing facilities in the United States.

Sure, yeah, it does represent a danger to the other workers, but what about the people driving Jeeps built by drunk/high workers?

Like a lot of people in the industry, the former employee who spoke to us said he supports the UAW and the Big 3 but recognizes there's a major problem.

"I love the auto inudstry, i love everything about it... I grew up eating/sleeping breathing cars. I really just would like to see things change."

Just as the three-martini lunch is sadly no longer accepted in white collar America, so too, the pot-and-beer lunch is no longer accepted for blue collar America.

link:

http://jalopnik.com/5645880/auto-workers-drinking-getting-high-during-lunch

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A 40 in 30 minutes... plus driving to buy the 40 and back... all while on a work break? Damn.

Yeah...I usually take an hour for lunch, and it's tight w/ 10-15 min each way to walk out of the office to the car then drive to a restaurant, then 20-30 min at the restaurant..

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Chrysler investigating footage of workers using drugs, alcohol at lunch

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News

Detroit -- Chrysler Group LLC is continuing to identify workers caught drinking and using drugs during their lunch break before returning to work to build Jeep Grand Cherokees at the Jefferson North plant.

The lunchtime habits of a small group of workers, which included a trip to a party story and then to a public park, were captured on video by WJBK-TV (Channel 2). WJBK was tipped off by concerned workers at the plant.

Chrysler executives are now using the video to identify the workers, a number of whom have already been suspended without pay.

"As they are identified, they are being called in and interviewed and suspended without pay," Chrysler spokeswoman Jodi Tinson said. "We are still going through the tape, but we have quite a few so far."

Chrysler management wants the matter dealt with as swiftly as possible, Tinson said.

"We will not tolerate this kind of behavior," she said.

The automaker has a code of conduct that prohibits the "use, possession, distribution, sale or offering for sale, or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs (other than use or possession of narcotics in medicines prescribed by the employee's physician), on corporation property, or while operating a corporation-owned motor vehicle, or while engaged in corporate business."

Typically, when a worker is suspended, the company has five days to conclude the investigation and determine whether to terminate or reinstate the employees.

The Jefferson plant has been heralded as an example of the new "World Class Manufacturing" system being adopted across manufacturing. The system came from partner Fiat SpA and is designed to improve quality as well as efficiency.

President Obama recently visited the plant to congratulate the work force on its strong work ethic and the quality of the 2011 Grand Cherokee.

Jefferson North's manufacturing process has more checks and balances as part of a system that includes "quality gates" and audits to ensure the vehicles meet stringent quality levels are met before a new vehicle leaves the assembly line. Workers also can stop the line if they see a problem.

"We take great pride in our Jefferson North facility and the more than 2,500 people who work every day to build a world-class product. To ensure that only the highest quality vehicles reach our customers, the company has processes in place to protect the integrity of our vehicles," the company said in a statement.

The United Auto Workers union was not immediately available for comment, but in a statement responding to WJBK said: "The UAW strongly opposes the use of controlled substances or alcohol use on the job. This type of behavior jeopardizes the health and safety of all employees. We also recognize that, unfortunately, these behaviors exist in our society.

"The UAW and the Chrysler Corporation work together to keep our workplaces drug and alcohol free, and to encourage employees with substance abuse problems to get the treatment they need. The employees involved in this situation do not represent the vast majority of workers at Chrysler who do a great job making high-quality vehicles in some of the most productive manufacturing facilities in the United States."

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100923/AUTO01/9230449/1148/auto01/Chrysler-investigating-footage-of-workers-using-drugs--alcohol-at-lunch#ixzz10OPRQYfQ

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Chrysler UAW employees work hard play hard; busted for drinking, smoking weed during break [w/video]

by Jeff Glucker (RSS feed) on Sep 23rd 2010 at 2:28PM

Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn't you like to get away...? Some members of the UAW, employed at Chrysler's Jefferson North Plant in Detroit, feel the need to do just that. The team at My Fox Detroit received a tip about some auto workers who were using their breaks to catch a little buzz before heading back to the line. The video, which you can watch after the jump, shows several plant employees meeting in a parking lot and throwing back some cold ones. The camera also catches a few folks enjoying some of Michigan's finest herb. Maybe this is how you respond to working after winning the lottery?

The response from Chrysler came quickly. Scott Garberding, Senior Vice President of Manufacturing states,

"I'm very, very disturbed about what I just saw in the video and I want to make it clear that we at Chrysler take it very seriously. For us this behavior is totally unacceptable and will be dealt with swiftly. In fact, we've already identified a few of the people involved in this incident. Each of them has been suspended indefinitely, without pay, pending further investigation. We'll continue to pursue this in fact, until we're done.

What's difficult about this is these few people, who exhibited bad behavior, have painted a bad picture what's an outstanding assembly plant, filled with outstanding committed Chrysler employees at Jefferson North. I want to make it clear that we're proud of our plant, we're very proud of the people at Jefferson North.

Lastly I want to say that when we build a vehicle we go to a lot of detail to make sure that even a few people in a situation like this, in fact cannot effect the quality of the vehicle. We have detail systems in place to make sure that every operation is completed and we do multiple-redundants to ensure quality of the vehicles we make."

The UAW added,

"(It) strongly opposes the use of controlled substances or alcohol use on the job. This type of behavior jeopardizes the health and safety of all employees. We also recognize that, unfortunately, these behaviors exist in our society."

link:

http://www.autoblog.com/2010/09/23/chrysler-uaw-employees-work-hard-play-hard-bus/

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Chrysler suspends workers caught boozing on tape

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Chrysler says it has suspended some plant workers caught by a Detroit television station drinking alcohol and smoking what appeared to be marijuana during breaks.

Chrysler manufacturing chief Scott Garberding told WJBK-TV in a report that aired Wednesday night that the automaker has identified some of the workers.

WJBK said it received a tip from a worker at Chrysler’s Jefferson North plant and followed about a dozen men for 10 days during their lunch breaks. It filmed them going to a convenience store to buy alcohol and taking it to a nearby park to drink and smoke.

Garberding says the workers’ “behavior is totally unacceptable.” The United Auto Workers said it strongly opposes the use of alcohol or controlled substances on the job.

Read more: Chrysler suspends workers caught boozing on tape | freep.com | Detroit Free Press http://www.freep.com/article/20100923/BUSINESS01/100923045/1210/business01/Chrysler-suspends-workers-caught-boozing#ixzz10P4wyhPg

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UAW says it opposes drinking, smoking pot 'on the job'

06:20 PM

The United Auto Workers union -- which represents Chrysler workers caught on video (earlier item here) drinking and possibly smoking dope in a Detroit park on their 11 a.m. lunch break -- says it opposes use of drugs or alcohol "on the job."

The UAW's key words may be "on the job": The workers were on a break and not on company property. Some were suspended, but none yet fired, which is a process governed by the union contract.

"The UAW strongly opposes the use of controlled substances or alcohol use on the job," said a UAW statement. "This type of behavior jeopardizes the health and safety of all employees."

But the union also said:

"Unfortunately, these behaviors exist in our society."

The union also noted that most of its member don't engage in such lunchtime antics.

"The employees involved in this situation do not represent the vast majority of workers at Chrysler who do a great job making high quality vehicles in some of the most productive manufacturing facilities in the United States," it said.

link:

http://content.usatoday.com/communities/driveon/post/2010/09/uaw-carefully-chides-workers-caught-drinking-smoking-pot-during-lunch-break/1

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UPDATE: 15 CHRYSLER WORKERS DRINKING, SMOKING WEED ON VIDEO SUSPENDED

By Mark Kleis

Yesterday Leftlane brought you footage of several car and truck loads full of United Auto Worker Union members from Chrysler's Jefferson North facility leaving the premises to purchase and consume significant amounts of alcohol and marijuana during their lunch breaks.

Now, after word spread virally across national and world news outlets, Chrysler has taken action and suspended all 15 workers identified in the videos, according to The Wall Street Journal. The workers have been suspended without pay while Chrysler determines the appropriate course of action.

(More after video)

After the footage was released, a statement was released by the UAW, stating, "The United Auto Workers strongly opposes the use of controlled substances or alcohol use on the job. This type of behavior jeopardizes the health and safety of all employees. We also recognize that, unfortunately, these behaviors exist in our society."

In addition to the UAW condoning the behavior, Chrysler also clarified that it has rules in place which prohibit the use, possession, distribution, sale or offering for sale, or being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while on corporation property, or while operating a corporation owned motor vehicle, or while engaged in corporate business. Given Chrysler's clear and comprehensive rules, it should be a slam dunk case against the workers for severe penalties, including possible termination.

Ms. Tinson, a spokeswoman for Chrysler, said that the automaker blocked entry to the manufacturing facility for most of the workers identified in the video on Thursday, citing the possible danger posed to fellow co-workers.

Tinson also confirmed that the workers have been suspended without pay pending a final determination by Chrysler and the UAW, which is expected to come on Monday.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWi6IlmSO_o&feature=player_embedded

link:

http://www.leftlanenews.com/update-15-chrysler-workers-drinking-smoking-weed-on-video-suspended.html

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Followup: Chrysler workers caught drinking during lunch suspended without pay

by Zach Bowman (RSS feed) on Sep 24th 2010 at 1:01PM

Chrysler has announced that all 15 of the employees who were apparently caught drinking and smoking pot during their lunch break by a Fox 2 News Detroit crew have been suspended indefinitely without pay. The workers from the company's Jefferson North Assembly Plant were spotted drinking heavily during their lunch breaks over a ten-day period. Chrysler says that all of the individuals had been identified and relieved of their duty within 36 hours of the company learning of the problem.

The company also says that while the video seems pretty cut-and-dry, it must adhere to its protocol when it comes to removing those workers permanently. Chrysler also stressed that each of its vehicles goes through an extensive quality control system and that it doesn't condone the behavior documented in the news report in any way. Chrysler's Jefferson North plant employs a total 2,500 workers.

To see Chrysler's official response, click past the jump. To read more about the story, head over to Fox 2 Detroit's website.

[sources: Chrysler, Fox 2 Detroit]

Show full PR text

Response to Broadcast Report-UPDATE

by Admin Admin

September 23, 2010 4:21 PM

UPDATE 6:00PM EDT

From the Fox 2 story on Chrysler Group's Jefferson North Assembly Plant, the Company was able to identify all 15 employees captured on video. Within 36 hours of learning about this matter, each one of the employees was suspended indefinitely without pay. While the evidence seems conclusive, the Company needs to act in accordance with corporate protocol before further action is taken. We expect that by Monday, each of these cases will be dispositioned.

Background: A story broadcast last night by the Detroit Fox affiliate regarding inexcusable behavior by some workers at the Jefferson North Assembly Plant (JNAP) is sparking a torrent of discussion online and on the air, but not more than right here at Chrysler Group LLC headquarters.

To be sure, we are very disturbed by this story.

Even before the story aired, based on on-air promos, we identified several workers appearing in the story, and immediately suspended them indefinitely without pay. Several more were dealt with the same way today, after we examined the video, and we're continuing to identify others and deal with them accordingly, with no delay.

To be very clear, Chrysler Group has a strict employee code of conduct and does not condone this behavior.

We take great pride in our Jefferson North plant and the more than 2,500 people who work every day to build world-class products. We have processes in place to ensure that only the highest quality vehicles reach our customers. In fact, we've invested $686 million in the plant and the products it produces.

In fact, as the plant prepared to produce a new line of SUVs with world-class quality, it underwent a complete transformation as part of World Class Manufacturing-that 's an extensive and thorough process to restore all Chrysler Group facilities to their original and maximum functionality.

JNAP employees have gone through nearly 45,000 hours of training, and have planned and executed hundreds of projects aimed at improving the work environment, maximizing quality, minimizing waste and preparing for the new product. We want both taxpayers and consumers to know, we take very seriously our responsibility to your safety, satisfaction and investment, and we promise you, we will continue to act swiftly and decisively to correct any situation at odds with that commitment.

link:

http://www.autoblog.com/2010/09/24/followup-chrysler-workers-caught-drinking-during-lunch-suspende/

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In the 'good ol days', I used to shoot over to the go-go bar (10 mins) down 2 beers (20 mins) then shoot back to work. Then again- I wasn't screwing together a 2-ton, 125-MPH death machine.

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Back in the late '90s, I used to go on Fridays from work to a local martini bar w/ coworkers for a vodka martini w/ lunch. When I was at startups, we kept beer in the fridge for Friday afternoons...at another company, we had a Friday tradition of going out at lunch for burritos and Mexican beer..which I still do when I work from home on Fridays.. :)

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Certainly NOT new. Only thing new is video technology... the YouTube generation, indeed.

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Chrysler workers face tale of the tape

BY MITCH ALBOM

FREE PRESS COLUMNIST

They used to call it "the liquid lunch." Businessmen left around noon, came back around 2, and in between -- under the cloak of "working" -- knocked back the booze.

For many years, this was not only tolerated, it was part of business life. Of course, the men drinking were executives wearing suits, and that, as in the TV show "Mad Men," made it seem OK.

This past week, Detroit's WJBK-TV (Channel 2) aired a special report about Chrysler plant workers (in T-shirts, not suits) drinking beer and apparently smoking dope during their 30-minute unpaid lunch breaks. Following a tip from plant employees, the reporter and a cameraperson tailed the workers for 10 days, capturing a familiar pattern: The workers drove to a liquor store, raced to a nearby park, drank and puffed, and made it back on time to finish their shifts.

Finally, the reporter confronted them with a camera rolling, saying, "Hate to be a buzz kill, but shouldn't you guys be building cars?"

The workers scattered. A few days later, Chrysler suspended them without pay.

So much alcohol in our systems

Now, the TV reporter, Rob Wolchek, has exposed many scams in his career and done much good as a result. And you get no argument here that booze and dope are unacceptable during work shifts. When you're working with big equipment or dangerous tools, it's even more true.

But many Detroiters reacted to this story with, "Hey, that happens all the time." They were referring to auto plant workers. They could have been referring to more.

For example, how many executives do company time with alcohol in their system? A Bloody Mary during a sales lunch? A few cocktails with a business dinner? And let's be honest, plenty of newspaper and TV journalists have stopped at the bar while working on a story.

"OK," you say, "but booze is not illegal. Marijuana is. And Chrysler got money from taxpayers."

True. But has there never been a disc jockey at a national public radio station who smoked a joint before his shift? Hasn't Willie Nelson, a notorious puffer, performed at a few state fairs -- venues paid for with tax dollars? Do you think he would have passed a drug test? The seats on his tour bus wouldn't pass a drug test.

Civil service workers? State university employees? Road construction crews? Anyone at a business that has taken a tax subsidy?

I suppose if you followed these people long enough, and confronted them ingesting a substance during work hours, they also would a) duck like the Chrysler workers and b) seem guilty of being toasted on taxpayer time.

But what does it all mean?

Not the prettiest picture

Well, it means trouble for those Chrysler workers at the Jefferson North plant in Detroit. It means a black eye for their plant -- a plant President Barack Obama visited not long ago.

It means the UAW should take heat for not being harsher on such behavior.

But what it really means is no one is safe from a camera. You can be filmed from almost anywhere now, from large cameras 100 yards away to tiny cameras small enough to fit in a pocket. In the old days, a print reporter would have to observe, then confront people, ask for a reaction and write a story. Today, you've got the "goods" once you roll the camera.

Remember, the "tipsters" called the TV station. Did they put equal energy into asking supervisors to do something first? If not, why? If so, and nothing happened, then is Chrysler taking action only because the story made national news? And what happens if another worker does the same -- but isn't caught on camera?

Yes, this issue is worrisome. Yes, it should be addressed. But imagine a camera following every frosty mug held by a reporter, every toke by a graduate assistant, every liquid lunch of a business exec.

If those Chrysler workers had been lunch-partying inside a building with no camera access, there'd still be a problem, but there would be no story. The lens changes everything. Our challenge is not only to focus it, but to keep it in perspective.

link:

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100926/COL01/9260473/1210/business01/The-Chrysler-worker-lunch-&template=fullarticle

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