By on April 30, 2015

UAW Hall at Bowling Green, Kentucky

UAW members at Ford’s Sterling Heights, Mich. plant met to gain advice on how to leave the union or stop paying dues under Michigan’s new right-to-work law.

Two meetings were held Wednesday to discuss the topic ahead of the union’s impending contract negotiations with the Detroit Three, Detroit Free Press reports. While some will, indeed, bid farewell to the union while still being allowed to continue working on the factory floor, labor experts don’t see a mass exodus from the UAW in the foreseeable future.

At one of the meetings in Sterling Heights, plant worker and right-to-work proponent Brian Pannebecker proclaimed that union members should send a message to the UAW by not paying any more dues until it addressed its members’ needs. He added that the right-to-work law wasn’t an effort to destroy or do away with unions, but one meant to use the collective bargaining process to the members’ advantage.

Michigan’s law prohibits employers from requiring employees to pay union dues in order to work. In turn, those who opt-out of dues cannot vote on union contracts, but the unions must represent those workers in matters of conflict within a given company.

[Photo credit: Michael Miller/Flickr/CC BY 2.0]

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38 Comments on “Ford UAW Members Meet To Receive Info On Leaving Union...”


  • avatar
    Landcrusher

    This could be the best thing for the UAW in the long run. They might be forced to be more responsive to the members many of whom have more sense than the goods you often hear parroting the union line.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I’ve often wondered who should protect union members from the big business unions. Right to work means unions are accountable, and that’s a good thing.

  • avatar
    Bob

    All the Union will do is hold their seniority date hostage. They will say if you stop paying dues and you take a supervision job then you will lose all your seniority if you return to the floor, back to 3rd shift! This is more than enough to scare people into paying dues.

  • avatar
    tonycd

    I’m assuming this UAW stuff will do its job as the usual clickbait. That said, I suppose unions as presently constituted are pretty much a dead letter in this country.

    I’ll freely concede that unions are flawed in important ways. But before people dance on their grave, they might want to ask themselves what will replace the role they used to play as the counterweight to corporate power for working Americans — not just those who were members themselves, but those whose employers felt the pressure to keep their wages and benefits remotely competitive lest they get unionized themselves. There’s no such counterforce now, and we’re seeing the grim results. News like this isn’t cause for celebration.

  • avatar
    ClutchCarGo

    “He added that the right-to-work law wasn’t an effort to destroy or do away with unions”

    Riiiigghht, Gov. Schneider and his minions just want to make the unions a better place for their members. Oh, look, there’s the Easter Bunny…

    It’s time to stop calling these laws “right to work” laws. Nothing before prevented someone from working, people were just prevented from free-loading at other’s expense, so these are “right to freeload” laws. Republicans usually despise freeloaders but somehow these don’t count.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      It would be somewhat amusing if somebody took it literally, and sued for having his or her “right to work” violated when not hired for a job for which he or she had applied.

      It would be best if this was a job with the GOP, so that the Republicans would be forced to argue that people don’t actually have an automatic right to work in a “right to work” state.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        Is there anyone who would believe that “right to work” means the same thing as “right to be employed by anyone you choose”?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The point is that “right to work” is dumb and inaccurate sloganeering. It’s marketing fluff, not an accurate description of what is better referred to as “open shop” law.

          • 0 avatar
            GMat

            Roger that.
            As a species we like to think of ourselves as savvy language manipulators…a sign of superior intelligence

            Like “Reproductive Rights” It goes down so much easier than the more sinister turn of phrase, destruction of a living viable fetus

            What a world, what a world

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            So start using “open shop” instead and explain why it’s a better term with the intent that it catches on.

            It’s one thing to have a good idea and promote that idea, and it’s another to insult people hoping it will somehow be persuasive.

            It’s not like any side of the political aisle is free from propaganda.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “So start using “open shop” instead and explain why it’s a better term with the intent that it catches on.”

            I just did.

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            “So start using “open shop” instead and explain why it’s a better term with the intent that it catches on.”

            The problem is that “right to work”, though deceptive and dishonest, is a lot catchier than “open shop”. “Right to work” unfairly loads the discussion upfront, kind of like asking whether you have stopped beating your wife. One wasn’t denied the “right to work”, one just had to adhere to the terms of a contract between employer and union.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Pch101,
            You could be correct regarding the definition of “right to work”. It might be a dumb way to describe freedom. Maybe freedom of choice is a better way to describe it.

            How the UAW has done it’s members well. Let’s look at the recent positive they have provided the rank and file.

            1. Allow it’s members to work on differing level of pay, from $10ph at American Axle.

            2. Created an elitist club of workers among the rank and file.

            3. Waste millions in the South attempting to expand the UAW.

            4. Have no clear direction for the future of the UAW.

            This really sounds like a great institution to pay money into.

            Can the the UAW provide protection for the workers when they can’t manage the “great” institution of the UAW?

            Doubt it.

            I hear your phone ringing again, it’s King.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “The problem is that ‘right to work’, though deceptive and dishonest, is a lot catchier than ‘open shop’.”

            Of course. And that’s why it should be mocked for the obviously shallow nonsense that it is. A right is an entitlement, and nobody is entitled to a job — if anyone here has any doubts about that, then go ask an employer.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            That would be a reasonable argument coming from someone who doesn’t use a partisan approach to just about every word, term, or phrase.

            It means what it means. It’s over half a century old. Get over it.

            Also, get over that it works. Closed shops are great for senior union members and bad for almost everyone else around. What does a seat catcher make in total compensation these days?

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            “It means what it means”

            No, it doesn’t. “Right to work” is the kind of clever misuse of words that, while effective, is manipulative in the worst way, and I can’t get over it since it obfuscates what is really at issue. Many jobs have absolute requirements. One may be required to buy and wear a uniform at one’s own expense, one may have to obtain state licensing, one may have to join the rest of the staff to sing humiliating birthday songs to customers, or one may be have to adhere to a contract and join a union. One may object to any of these, find them objectionable and over-bearing, but one doesn’t have the “right” to refuse them yet keep the job. One only has the right to seek other employment, just as business owners have the right to find a business practice where employees are not motivated to bargain collectively.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            A “right to work” would be guaranteed employment. Everyone who wants a job gets one.

            Of course, “right to work” states don’t offer anything that even remotely resembles guaranteed employment.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Sorry clutch, no go.

            None of those things is equivalent.

            If I take a job waiting tables that includes birthday songs, that is in no way the same as having to pay protection money to a third party who I don’t like and who may have locked up every job of the sort I want. See UAW.

            If GM became a monopoly we would bust it up, but the UAW was let run everything in Michigan in the car building biz. They locked it up.

            If I want the waiting job, and not to sing, I can apply and try to convince them to hire me anyway. Not so with the UAW. I’m stuck with all their crud, and so is Ford. How about we have a guy come to your home when you want to have sex and ensure you are doing it by the contract? Your partner doesn’t get a choice, it’s up to you to play along or go without, but hey, you have a choice.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            pCH, no go for you as well

            You are describing right to work and get paid whever you want.

            Right to work simply keeps third parties on infringing on your right to work.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This is awesome. You don’t even know what a “right” is.

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            LC, you’re still ignoring the language question. None of your arguments demonstrate that a worker is denied the right to work, only that he can’t thumb his nose at the terms of employment. If a worker doesn’t like those terms or the parties involved, he can seek a different job. Isn’t that the argument used when workers seek a higher minimum wage?

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            CC,
            I don’t know how you can’t see the difference. Closed shops are designed to keep out competitive labor. The state should not be involved in enforcing monopolies. The car assembly unions are simply monopolies providing labor for companies putting together cars.

            If you got thrown out of the UAW in pre RtW Michigan, or for some other reason they wouldn’t let you in, you could not compete for those jobs. In fact, if you started your own car company, the minute you hired a second guy to build cars, he and his buddy could join the UAW and kick you off your own assembly line!

            In a right to work state, they can’t do that. You have a right to compete.

            PCH,
            Thanks for being silly. Now I can just ignore you.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I wish that I was being silly. You clearly have no idea what a “right” is.

    • 0 avatar
      Landcrusher

      I love this line of nonsense.

      It precisely is a right to work. Perhaps your problem is that you don’t really understand what work is? Work isn’t just lifting heavy things. The real work starts before the heavy lifting, digging of ditches, and putting up with idiocy of others with a smile. Work starts with making a deal to get paid for your efforts. Choosing who to work with, convincing them you are a good value, and ensuring you get paid are the toughest parts of working.

      Having the relation with an employer fettered with the interference of a legally privileged organization is an infringement of your right to participate in the market place. The only way to prevent unions from destroying the market place which they claim they are trying to create balance in is to keep them from being able to takeover unchecked (see Michigan History).

      I know many from the New Left rely on being able to control the vocabulary to keep their reality from exploding, but this is nowhere near the usual levels of propaganda on either side and has been in place for decades.

      By PCH’s normal method, he should be calling you an idiot for not knowing what right to work means and not knowing how to use Google.

      • 0 avatar
        ClutchCarGo

        I’m well aware of what work is, I’ve been doing it for 40+ years now. Nothing before “right to work” prevented one from choosing who to work with, convincing them one is a good value, or ensuring one gets paid. There were just requirements that when one worked in certain situations one had to meet certain obligations, like joining a union if mgmt had negotiated a contract with that union, or maintaining professional credentials when called for by law, e.g. med or eng license. “Right to work” laws are nothing more than an effort by the Right to cripple a political ally and help out Business by diminishing the capability of workers to counter-balance the inherent power of Capitol.

        The Left has no monopoly on playing with language, either. As PCH noted above, “right to work” is a clever slogan that in best Orwellian mode turns the real meaning of the law on its head (which is why he fails to take me to task). This is just another attempt to obscure their intent, just like the so-called Death Tax. There is no Death tax. We all will die, few will owe any tax as a result. There is only a tax on big honking estates, but you can’t get people riled up about the Big Honking Estate Tax so the Right invents a Death Tax.

        • 0 avatar
          Landcrusher

          Death tax is indeed sloganeering. That doesn’t make it misrepresentative of what’s going on. The estate pays the taxes after all, no? Lets not waste time. Arguing over the terms solves nothing.

          As for your Orwellian phrases, the best today is an obligation to pay dues if management has negotiated a contract with a union. Wow, that’s a whopper. Way past sloganeering into total misrepresentation. What you mean is if management was forced into a contract with a labor service cartel backed up by the full might and power of the state.

          There is a good reason why things devolve into closed shops everywhere it’s allowed. The law actually favors the unions. Well, you lost Michigan. If things get better, maybe you will change your mind?

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            Words, and their meanings, are important. As Orwell demonstrated, their misuse leads people down paths where they don’t want to go, so calling right to freeload a right to work is deceptive, and it’s hardly a waste of time to clear up what’s really at the heart of the matter. Ditto for a death tax that only applies to the very wealthy. Obscuring the true intent of laws and regulation is black-hearted and worthy of contempt.

            And how is mgmt forced into a contract any more than employees? Is not mgmt every bit as entitled to close up shop as the employee is to refuse the job? Or do you only have sympathy for the poor bosses who are “forced” into a union contract? No state can force a company to do business against their will. They only enter contracts that they believe will allow them to profit within the terms, which is true of any prospective employee. If either union, or mgmt, or both, foolishly set terms that are unsustainable, the market will set things right and knock both parties down. So don’t whine that poor mgmt is forced into union contracts, and don’t pretend that precluding union contracts is anything but a giveaway to Business.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Right to freeload is not what it is at all so it’s not Orwellian.

            I really like your anti rich theme here. If we steal from the rich is it not robbery? Punching them is not battery? We can bend the language for one group, but not for another? You choose I suppose?

            A Union created at the behest of management is no Union at all. States can force companies to enter contracts in many ways. One of them is with rules that allow a bunch of workers to create a closed shop situation. At that point, they are pretty much screwed as I understand it. I gotta ask at this point about this thing where strikers can legally delay people trying to enter a business. Is that for real? We call that kidnapping here.

            I’m not saying anything about precluding union contracts. I’m for right to work. That means keeping union contracts from precluding other employment contracts. If a business wants to only hire Union, that’s fine. The thing is, no one not flying a Union flag believes businesses want to give up the ability to hire who they want. To make employers give up flexibility, it takes making them do it through coercion which is often in the labor law itself.

            Every contact I have ever had with unions, trade or labor, involved coercion and monopoly. You have to pay them what they say they are worth or not get the job or product at all. You can’t even plug in a plug. It’s effing amazing.

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            Your arguments regarding union contracts have nothing to do with whether there is anything interfering with the right to work, and receiving the benefits of collective bargaining without contributing to that bargaining is freeloading, so you haven’t addressed the perversion of language at all. And your intimation that I’n anti-rich and want to steal from them is just another example of how the Right perverts language to their own ends. Taxation is not theft. it is a mutually agreed way to pay for shared govt functions that the majority chooses to adopt.

            Contracts, whether with labor, suppliers, customers, etc. are entered into willingly or else they are void. Big mfrs can force difficult terms on smaller suppliers. Do you weep for the little guy, or believe that he is responsible for himself? You can argue that unions are fundamentally undesirable, but you cannot argue that if they contract with a mfr that the mfr is an aggrieved party or that a worker is denied a “right to work” because he must accept the terms of that contract and support the collective bargaining that serves him.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            CC,
            It’s my understanding that in these collective bargaining situations, the non Union members are stuck with the outcome. They don’t have a choice. You are telling them where they are going to eat and you want them to pay for gas to get there whether they want to eat there or not. Then, when they refuse to pay gas money and go ahead and eat, you call them a freeloader. It’s freeloader or miss a meal. What’s really going on is kidnapping.

            Get over it. The only freeloaders are the Union guys making off with power over others they should not have.

            Also. I did not in anyway imply you want to steal from the rich. If you want to be an idiot, we can stop now. My point was clearly that you are applying standards differently. A tax applied when you die is a tax applied when you die even if it only gets applied to a few rich people. Thus, stealing is stealing, even when it’s from the rich, etc.

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            “I really like your anti rich theme here. If we steal from the rich is it not robbery?”

            “Also. I did not in anyway imply you want to steal from the rich. If you want to be an idiot, we can stop now.”

            Both of the above are quotes from your posts. Yeah, we’re done here.

          • 0 avatar
            Landcrusher

            Clearly the right idea.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave M.

      “…people were just prevented from free-loading at other’s expense.”

      R-i-i-i-ight, because that’s how unions have rolled for the past 50-60 years. As opposed to feathering their officers’ nests, high luxury living for the select few, and political support of select candidates.

      Again, let them earn their merit.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I’ll withhold judgement on the law because I know it will be interpreted by the courts. In California, a challenge to the closed shop in state employment was upheld, with the judge ruling that the state constitution prohibited forced union membership, producing de facto right to work.

    The judge then ruled that in collective bargaining units, the employee still had to pay his/her share of the unions’ collective bargaining expenses, and told the unions to provide a breakdown of what portion of the dues were benefits of union membership, the rest being collective bargaining expenses. ALL the unions declared that the value of union membership was one dollar of the dues. The rest was C-B expenses. So much for that.

    A few years after that, the office staff of a state engineers union threatened to strike unless they got immediate raises and benefits. The union’s office staff was unionized – by the UAW!. The engineers’ union had to dip into it’s emergency fund to pay for the unplanned first year office staff expense, and raised dues for a year to replenish the fund. When an engineer complained, he was told it’s a bargaining expense – with the engineers as employers, their union bargaining with the UAW-unionized office staff.

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    “Having the relation with an employer fettered with the interference of a legally privileged organization is an infringement of your right to participate in the market place. The only way to prevent unions from destroying the market place which they claim they are trying to create balance in is to keep them from being able to takeover unchecked (see Michigan History).”

    Here in Australia qwe have seen the utter destruction of any industrial base since the days of the pathetic Whitlam government. In the years since the clown was kicked out of office the unions have indeed made themselves into a legally privileged group.
    The result of their unfettered power has been the pricing out of the work place the majority of skilled manual workers as their employers shut up shop or moved manufacturing to Asia.
    it has been noted here in Parliament by Bob Katter that once a country loses it’s ability to manufacture an electric motor it’s industry base is doomed. How right he was.
    The previous labor government tried impose a carbon tax on the economy.An economy in which it is damned hard to employ anyone because of the red tape and the expense . This carbon tax was the proverbial coffin nail and saw off GM,Ford and Toyota and myriad small manufactures engaged in the supply of small components . The expense required of an employer to engage someone for work is caused by the said unions success in forcing Labor led governments to award huge pay increases .Most of those pay increases had nothing to do with productivity but the desire for those on top to remain there at any cost
    The reliance on mining,a 19Th century approach to economics has failed as the chicom government plays silly buggers with the prices.So this has left a vast pool of former mine workers now looking for work .Work,they believe should earn them upwards of $2000 per week clear. I couldn’t imagine a US miner ever taking home that much each week .
    In the meantime the union bosses, most of whom are lawyers and would be MPS and most of whom have never actually been employed in the work or unions they represent get rich on salaries beginning at $500,000 per year.
    They have no concern for the shop floor worker ,and see them as a vote or a rung on the ladder to what they perceive as greater things.
    This nonsense of sharing the wealth as spouted by those who have read far too much into the works of Marx and Engels or use hackneyed phrases from the 1930’s to justify union methods of negotiation has priced most workers out of a job .Simple really .

    • 0 avatar
      thelaine

      Nice to hear another Down Under perspective Ron B.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      @Ron B.
      The facts you mention are more or less accurate. But I do think your interpretation is different from mine.

      Manufacturing is done and dusted in Australia. We don’t have the market size to effectively develop a competitive manufacturing base.

      The Left or Labor Party had done a couple of things that have been beneficial for the country. Opening up the country to freer trade and superannuation comes to mind.

      Also, remember that the Right or Liberal Party squandered some the resources boom. If during that period the country was better managed we wouldn’t be where we are now.

      And even now, we are much better off than most any other OECD economy. It’s just it wasn’t what it was during the Mining Boom.

      The mining boom wasn’t really a boom as such. The boom was the investment into the infrastructure for the boom. We are now in the phase of the boom where there is much production. In a supply and demand system prices will drop.

      The prices will rise as the lower performing miners are removed increasing demand from the remaining miners.

      Australia will do well down the track. We will enter an agricultural boom for the ever affluent Asian economies. India will open up gradually and we will export not manufacturing to China, but something of more value, services and the associated tech.

      The Chinese are expanding their internal economy which will improve the lives and create a more affluent Chinese economy. This is where we will excel.

      All is not grey and lost.

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    Pity the fool on the assembly line floor getting the same wages and benefits as everyone else and not paying into the union.

    Some unions have gotten too greedy and in the case of the auto industry got too strong and like any parasite that gets too prolific, the host soon dies.

    Does that mean one has to kill all unions or does that mean one needs to restructure how unions work?

    Unions are suffering in the USA partially because things like NAFTA mean that some things do not need to be built in the USA. American Axle was a prime example. The union was told, “all unskilled workers will take big pay cuts or we will set up shop out of country”.
    No need for “right to work” legislation when the employer decides it has the “right to work” in Mexico.


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