“I’m a supplemental / TPT / Stellantis slave”: Message from a Warren Truck temporary part-time worker

Warren Truck workers come in for second shift on July 6, 2023

The following text message was sent to the World Socialist Web Site Autoworker Newsletter from a temporary part-time worker at the Stellantis (formerly Fiat Chrysler or FCA) Warren Truck Assembly Plant (WTAP) in suburban Detroit. The text details the abusive conditions confronting thousands of TPTs or Supplemental Employees (SEs) who are paid substandard wages and benefits (starting at $15.78 an hour), must labor years before being rolled over to full-time positions and can be scheduled or fired at will even though they are dues-paying members of the United Auto Workers union. 

On July 5, Stellantis put the Warren Truck plant on “critical status,” allowing the company to force both part-time and full-time workers to work as many as seven days a week and up to 12 hours a day for ninety days. The action, taken without the slightest even verbal protest by the UAW bureaucracy, now led by UAW President Shawn Fain, is being used to stockpile vehicles in advance of a possible strike by Stellantis workers when their contract expires on September 15. The Warren Truck Rank-and-File Committee, which issued a statement opposing the mandatory overtime, is uniting part-time and full-time, first and second shift, Detroit area workers and those transferred after layoffs or plant closures to fight for an all-out strike of autoworkers throughout the US and Canada to win major wage and work improvements, including the immediate conversion of all TPTs to full-time positions.   

I’m a supplemental/TPT/Stellantis/FCA slave at the Warren Truck Assembly Plant. I’ve been employed here for nearly three years as a very faithful and loyal employee under the horrible conditions that Stellantis and the Union representatives of local 140 administer each day. I can’t laugh at the representatives here, but what I do instead is put my head down in shame when I see our reps, or should I say whenever, which is very unlikely. Here at Local 140, it’s all about who you know and the buddy “Friend” system, not to mention the sweetheart programs. Supplementals are supposed to have a voice, at least that is what I was told, but when a supplemental speaks out we’re told, “Remember you’re a supplemental and you don’t have any say so on what you do or what you are allowed to do.” This includes last minute mandatory overtime, being placed on 5-7 different jobs per day and not being able to receive proper Union representation by our union officials who we pay union dues to from our Day 1 start date. 

I said earlier, supplementals/TPTs are treated like slaves. We are extremely overworked and underpaid with almost no medical coverage or any of the concessions that full-time employees receive. But we’re still demanded to perform the same and more job duties as our full-time coworkers. A year ago, local 140 received $46,800 per month and $561,600 annually in union contributions from just supplemental/TPTs alone and yet we couldn’t get a straight answer from or union reps on when we were going to be converted to full-time employees. It wasn’t until this year in a conversation with our former Union president, Eric Graham, that I learned in March 2021 Stellantis told the union the Belvidere assembly plant was going to shut down and its employees laid off. 

Prior to that, 200 recently hired supplemental employees, including myself, were offered full-time positions on March 6, 2021. After the announcement that Belvidere was closing nothing was said to us. Instead, we were given the run around until five days before we were supposed to be rolled over to full-time. We were told our roll over date was going to be placed on hold and there was no need to contact the Union and that they would contact us.

Fast forward to now, we’re still supplemental workers. We’ve endured great financial loss in hourly pay, medical coverage, vacation, sick time, bonuses and profit-sharing, not to mention the 2 1/2 years of seniority. This must stop going forward. The union is in bed with Stellantis under this contract, as we all know. On top of that inside Local 140 at WTAP there is corruption within the union representatives we pay for. Certain team leaders (TL) are allowed have more power than managers and supervisors. They are able to hold much easier jobs for their buddies, create jobs on their teams that don’t exist, have 2 backup TL’s with no jobs, meaning the three of them don’t work at all. Supplementals are put to work covering for certain individuals who are allowed to leave their jobs to conduct “union business” to go to the union office to play cards, host parties and my favorite, just to watch TV and do nothing. We need to weed out the corruption in every local in North America to straighten out the mess the union representatives have made over the years with their friends with benefits operations.‪

In addition, supervisors and team leaders are demanding supplemental employees train other supplemental and full-time employees on jobs in which the supplemental worker who is supposed to do the training isn’t properly trained themselves. The training process is supposed to be a three-full-day process in which a “TEAM LEADER” is supposed to conduct with all new trainees. After the third day, the trainee is supposed to receive an O.J.T. document that states the employee is trained and certified to perform his or her job duties verified by the “TEAM LEADER & SUPERVISOR.” So, what’s happening is instead of training, an operator is shown a job for a matter of minutes by someone who probably just learned the job not even a day before. So, when the new operator makes a mistake on a job, management puts the operator on notice with a written warning which is on your record for 30 days. The training process and procedures at WTAP Stellantis are horrible. The quality is poor because it’s a simple case of the blind leading the blind and horrible leadership skills by team leaders and supervision.

To contact the Warren Truck Rank-and-File committee, call or text 248-919-8448. Text AUTO to (866) 847-1086 to sign up for text updates from the Autoworkers Rank-and-File Network or to discuss building rank-and-file committees.