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Chrysler UAW Workers Busted Again For Lunching on Booze and Blunts

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As flies to wanton boys are Chrysler auto workers to Detroit’s television newspeople: For their sport, they catch the UAW laborers getting wasted on the job.

Last year, when the local Fox 2 team spied auto workers drinking and smoking their lunches outside the company’s Jefferson North Assembly plant, we worried about Chrysler’s troubled reputation for build quality.

Now that the same newsmen have busted the lunchtime weed-and-booze set at another area Chrysler factory -- this time even more blatantly puffing weed, both in pipes and in rolled objects that we’ll just go ahead and identify as blunts, alongside their 40 oz. beers – we’re just starting to feel sorry for these stoned schlubs.

(By the way, this time the shenanigans weren’t in a public park, but a private lot owned by … wait for it … the UAW local. Which is also great for PR.)

So, does Chrysler look fondly on workers who get busted doing the same stuff that embarrassed the company last year? Surprisingly, no: Chrysler is super-annoyed! Scott Garberding, the senior VP for manufacturing who was “very, very disturbed” last year, yesterday sounded a little less surprised but at least as disappointed:

Again, we have Chrysler workers in a compromised position, without regard for the impact of their actions, the reputation of their coworkers, the plant, of the company, not to mention their own reputation and that of their families...(Blah blah, Chrysler’s made big strides this past year, et cetera.)

The employees that we identify, as soon as we understand who they are, will be suspended indefinitely without pay and anybody else involved will be dealt with swiftly.... We are very proud of our team. We have some folks who apparently do not want to be part of that team.

We will note that, these being union workers under a still-rather-generous contract, “suspended indefinitely without pay” is the phrase employed where you’d normally see “fired.”

To some, the whole thing smacks of picking on blue-collar guys who are, after all, just catching a little buzz to get through a day of assembly-line drudgery. Rob Wolchek, the buzzkill correspondent who ran both stings, would like to dispel that notion. He adds at the tail of his newscast that he’s also eager to catch any Chrysler executive types ducking out for Mad Men-style two-martini lunches … but they’re just too darn wily to be caught self-medicating in parked cars.

“If you know of somebody who’s a bigwig, I would much rather get that person,” Wolchek says. “However, we have gone after many big fish, but we can’t seem to catch them, because maybe they’re too sly, or because they don’t show up every day at the same spot doing the same darn thing, over and over and over again.”

We’re skeptical that Wolchek has any actual plans to stake out suburban Detroit’s higher-end watering holes to find Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne and his ilk on daytime benders. But if he does manage to figure out which drugs inspired the Dodge Caliber’s ugly mug, we and auto buyers everywhere will be grateful.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.