Thursday, January 27, 2005

Workplace Violence

Events here in Toledo have made starting a labor blog today a somber event:

Two dead, two hurt in Jeep plant shooting

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) -- An auto worker wired a shotgun to his
body and burst into a Jeep assembly plant, killing a supervisor and wounding two
other employees before killing himself.

The alleged gunman, Myles Meyers, had met with plant officials
to talk about a problem with his work the day before his fatal spree Wednesday
at a Jeep Liberty Plant, authorities said.
After entering the plant at about
8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Meyers had pointed the gun at a woman in the plant's body
shop office and ordered her to summon three other people, telling her he did not
plan to hurt her, police Chief Mike Navarre said.

"He gave her three names. He told her who he wanted and
who he was going to shoot," Navarre said.

She summoned one of the three men, Michael Toney, who was
shot and wounded. Supervisor Roy Thacker, who was on the list of three, was
killed after he went to the office on his own, while a third man who was not on
the list, Paul Medlen, was wounded later, authorities said.

...Meyers, 54, of Toledo did not show up at work as scheduled
Wednesday but used his employee access card to get into the plant, police Capt.
Ron Spann said at a news conference Thursday.
Meyers met a day earlier with
his bosses and union leaders to talk about a problem, but he was not
disciplined, said Mary Beth Halprin, a spokeswoman for Chrysler Group, a
division of Jeep's parent company, DaimlerChrysler.

"The issue had been resolved amicably," she said Thursday. "We had been
given no hint that something like this would happen."

Meyers, according to earlier reports published in the Toledo Blade, had been given a three-day suspension for arguing with his supervior, Roy Thacker.

Norm Reithmeier, a 21-year Jeep plant employee, said he was
working in the vicinity of the shooting but did not see it happen. He knew
Meyers — they both started work making Jeeps about the same time.Mr. Reithmeier
said there had been friction recently between Meyers and a supervisor, and a
verbal argument on Tuesday resulted in a written three-day suspension for
Meyers.But at the plant, suspended employees work during their suspensions, with
a record of their discipline placed in their personnel file. Accumulated
suspensions result in termination.
hundred workers were in the plant at the time of the shootings. All were sent
home shortly after the plant was secured.

“I know Myles. Myles was a good dude. He didn’t have to go out
like that, but when you get pushed. … Roy [Thacker] was a good guy. He didn’t
need to go out that way, either,” Mr. Reithmeier said.

Part of the problem here, in my opinion, is the position that many unions now find themselves in after twentyy-five years of being whipsawed by corporations. Unions are no longer acting as advocates for workers, but as intermediaries between management and workers.

Earlier reports of this incident in the Blade mentioned that Meyers had been given a three-day suspension, but that such suspensions were now served in the plant (in a detention hall?). Management and Meyers obviously had different opinions on the resolution of this, and those diffences played themselves out tragically on Wednesday night.

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