Roy Exum: How The UAW ‘Really’ Works

Wednesday, June 4, 2014 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

The United Auto Workers union put on a textbook show for Chattanooga’s Volkswagen employees of “how it really works” Tuesday afternoon. The union was holding its 36th Constitutional Convention at Detroit’s Cabo Center when finally the subject of the first dues increase since 1967 came up.

The Detroit News reported that 1,100 delegates, considering raising the dues from two hours of monthly pay to two-and-a-half, heard 40 speakers who were evenly divided on the issue and “rejected repeated calls to refer the issue to a referendum of the union’s entire nearly 400,000 members.”

Then, according to the newspaper’s account, here’s what happened: “Some dissenters wanted to call for a roll call vote in which each delegate's vote would be tallied. After a delegate called to end debate, opponents couldn’t get the 307 delegates needed for a roll call vote.”

The next paragraph read, “When a voice vote on the dues increase was too close to call, outgoing president Bob King asked for members to raise their hands. Hands raised in support were far enough ahead of opponents that King didn’t need to count precisely. But there were a significant number of no votes.”

The newspaper said that King argued the dues hike was necessary because the long strike at Caterpillar had cost the union $300 million and that the outgoing chief denied suggestions the union has been “irresponsible” in handling its finances. “We have a common goal,” King told an opposing member, “We have an honest disagreement.”

For the record, a UAW autoworker making $28 an hour will have a monthly dues increase soon of roughly $14, which computes to a yearly increase of $168, making yearly dues a total of $840. The UAW will get $45 million a year as the result.

As you may guess, the dues hike was ill-received by many members who have watched union leaders bleed the strike fund from $900 million to a current $600 million in recent years.

The comments the story generated were telling. Christa Jordan Eberline, a tool & die maker at the Ford plant, wrote, “I’m not shocked but I am disappointed. As a membership we have done nothing but give, give, give. We have lost more in our last three contracts than most people realize. The fact the International can spend our money without our permission is reprehensible at best.

“Now you have over-spent, just like every other corporation, and you turn to the middle class to re-seed an account that should have never been touched. I have been at Ford Motor Company for 17 years and have yet to strike (thankfully) yet my strike fund is depleted!” she wrote.

She added, “I personally would like to see a breakdown of this vote. Who voted for and who voted against! It is my right to know. It’s no different than Congress. If you felt compelled to vote for an increase then stand up and own it. Give me and every others dues paying member a good argument.

“Convince me that next year, when I finally have the right to opt out of the UAW, because I live in a right-to-work state, why I should continue to pay for nothing. Convince me the union is still the way to go. I’ve always been pro union but my current representation is very disappointing.”

Earlier Frank Patta, the general secretary of the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, told those at the Detroit convention he believes efforts to organize a union at the Chattanooga VW Assembly plant will be successful.

“Let me say this to our enemies. We will go on … we will not be beaten,” said Patta, whose brother Sebastian heads the human resources department  at the Chattanooga plant. “We want people to have a say in what happens at their workplace. The rights of our brothers and sisters are trampled!”

Oh, my goodness. Hollywood screen writers can’t make this stuff up. While the Patta brothers will help the UAW in any way they can, I suspect those in Chattanooga are sensing the reasons the pro-union forces at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Alabama just told the UAW to leave.

Then again, if the UAW does insist on another vote after February’s 712-626 verdict turned the union away, let’s do it the Detroit way – all ya’ll just raise your hand.

royexum@aol.com



Sincere Thanks To The County Commission

It seems good government can raise its head every once in a while, so we must thank our County Commissioners for listening to the voice of the vast majority of the taxpayers, and not buying what Superintendent Rick Smith was selling last Wednesday as he pitched his tax increase.  The "it's for the children" ploy didn't work so far this time, so I guess our high-paid superintendent, ... (click for more)

Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

EPB Seeks 3.5% Rate Increase; First Since 2011

EPB on Friday morning asked its board of directors to consider a 3.5 percent rate increase to monthly electric power charges for customers, effective July 1. The board is set to vote on the measure in June. For residential customers who use 1,000 kWh of electric power in a month, this adjustment will reflect an increase of about $3.50 on their monthly bills. The 3.5 percent ... (click for more)

Garcia Charged With Armed Robbery Of Red Bank Dollar Store

Red Bank Police have charged 25-year-old Derek Matthew Garcia with the armed robbery of the Dollar General Store at 4707 Dayton Blvd. Police Chief Tim Christol said the robbery occurred last Friday at approximately 12:30 p.m. when Garcia entered the store armed with a knife and demanded the clerk give him all the money from the cash register. He was arrested Thursday ... (click for more)

Baylor Beats GPS 6-4 For D-II Softball Title

MURFREESBORO – Oh, what a difference a year makes. The GPS Bruisers came through the losers bracket a year ago and beat Baylor twice after losing the first five times they played, but those two were the biggest as it gave the team in blue a state D-II softball championship. The situation was similar a year later, but the results a bit different as the Lady Red Raiders beat ... (click for more)

Baylor To Face GPS Again For D-II State Softball Title

MURFREESBORO – It will be another Baylor-GPS battle for the championship in Division II softball as Baylor advanced with a 10-3 win over St. Benedict while GPS later beat the Lady Eagles by a 2-0 final for the right to face the Lady Red Raiders again. This year’s D-II tournament was similar to last year as Baylor beat GPS on the first day before the Bruisers came back and beat ... (click for more)