Letter: Right to work for autoworkers

As the UAW international contract expires this week, tens of thousands of domestic auto workers in Michigan are free to decide for themselves whether or not to join and financially support the union.

Here in Michigan, right to work passed in December 2012, although for those union members working under an existing collective bargaining agreement, the law did not become effective until that agreement expired. For UAW members, that was Sept. 15.

Due to the obvious “self-interest” in keeping the dues money flowing, the UAW has provided virtually no information whatsoever regarding the process for resigning and stopping payment of union dues. In fact, it has been working behind the scenes to scare and threaten any workers who have inquired about paying only an “agency fee” or resigning after the expiration of the contract and paying no dues.

In June 2014, UAW “leaders” increased the amount of money collected from members from 2 hours pay per month to 2 ½ hours, a 25 percent increase. The stated reason for the increase was to “replenish the strike fund.” The strike fund, which is separate from the union’s “General Fund,” had been depleted of over $300 million dollars by the union bosses without the knowledge of the average UAW member. There had been no major strikes to draw on the fund, but the union bosses had spent over $300,000,000 on “activities other than strike pay.”

After that obvious violation of trust with the general membership, I decided to resign from the union and become a “Beck Objector” which allowed me to pay only the portion of dues that the union claimed was spent on collective bargaining, representation, and grievance procedure. But now that RTW has taken effect for UAW members, I will be sending in my letter of resignation and revocation to stop those fees from being deducted from my paycheck. Workers can no longer be forced to pay fees to the UAW as a condition of employment at Ford Motor Co., and I won’t.

It is important to note that resigning from the UAW only ends the forced relationship with a third party political organization. It in no way changes a worker’s pay, benefits or retirement. Those are all protected by law, and between the employer and the employee. The union merely negotiates the terms of the collective bargaining agreement that applies to all members of the “bargaining unit,” which includes union members and non-members alike. Of course the union bosses do not want the workers to realize this, because many who are opposed to the UAW’s political agenda, and alliance with the liberal Democrat Party may decide to stop funding their activities

Brian Pannebecker

Michigan Freedom-to-Work