The UAW can’t stop embarrassing itself, but that can happen to an organization seemingly propelled by its own inertia into repeated face plants, no banana peel required. The latest involves a pen intended to commemorate its President, Rory Gamble, who is ostensibly there to clean up the place.
The Detroit News reports that the pens were handed out at a UAW conference in Washington D.C. this week, with “China” written on them along with Gamble’s name. A union spokesman confirmed their existence but blamed a vendor that the union contracted with, adding that the pens had also been pulled from circulation.
The Detroit News also found two union members who said they were upset about it:
“I’m appalled. Are you serious?” said Meoshee Edwards, a 23-year UAW member who works as a team leader at General Motors Co.’s Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant. “They’re always pushing for us to have American-made stuff even down to the Halloween candy. For our union to be handing out that, that’s kind of hypocritical, you know?”
Jonathon Mason, a five-year production worker at Ford Motor Co.’s Dearborn Truck Plant, was disappointed to hear about the China-made pens:
“That is very sad. It’s a misrepresentation of who we are as a union. If we’re so set on being American-made and things of that nature, why would we have memorabilia made in China?” Mason said. “I’m sure they could have found a United States-based pen company. That’s not a reflection of us as an American organization.”
Now, of all the screwups the UAW is capable of, this one seems relatively harmless underpinned, as it is, on the idea that buying American-made products is supposedly more ethical or something, an idea which has been around basically since the founding of this country and one that, as far as I am aware, has somehow not saved American manufacturing in the past few decades. But, sure, every little bit helps.
Anyway, if you would like some quotes from someone involved in this screwup absolutely flogging themselves in despair, The Detroit News delivers:
“It was our error,” Bankers Pen President Richard Danziger told The Detroit News. “It was processed incorrectly. It’s not something that would normally happen. It was pulled from the wrong inventory. Neither the distributor nor the UAW were involved. It was absolutely someone in my facility.”
“We got a phone call while they were in the middle of giving out product, and they realized there were China markings on the products,” Danziger said. “It’s not something that would normally happen. We have stock overseas and stock assembled here. The wrong stock was pulled.”
“We are willing to do whatever is necessary to make it right,” he said.
At any rate, there was a much bigger UAW story today in the form of a former regional director pleading guilty. Vance Pearson pleaded guilty to a charge of conspiring to embezzle union funds and aiding a racketeering enterprise, and will cooperate with investigators as they go after Dennis Williams and Gary Jones, the two presidents who preceded Gamble. Pearson is the 12th person to be convicted in the investigation.