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



Christian Arrogance On Display

The announcement that the "Bible In The Schools" organization will "gift" a million dollars to the Hamilton County Schools for elective bible "history" classes is a real in-your-face example of christian arrogance.  No one is fooled by the use of the term "bible history" to mask the real intent of this program.  As one who remembers when sunday school teachers were ... (click for more)

Conspiracy Between Trump And Putin - And Response

The Democrats and liberals would have us to believe that Putin and Trump conspired on the emails.  Quote:  Sanders supporter, former head of the NAACP, Mr. Jealous argued Monday that the Russians couldn’t be blamed for the content of the emails.  “What I know for sure is that the Russians didn’t write the emails. That is the most important thing, what was in ... (click for more)

$30 Million Development Planned At King And South Market; Will Include Hotel, Condos, Offices, Retail, Possible Restaurant

A new $30 million development is planned for the Southside at King Street and South Market. Nick Wilkinson, city deputy director for economic development, said it will include a hotel, condos, offices, retail and possibly a restaurant. It could also include some light industry. A storage building and a parking lot are now at the site. He said the developers plan to reuse ... (click for more)

Investor In Scheme Says Dyer Made Contacts At Quarterback Club

One of the investors who was a loser in an investment scheme recently halted by the Securities and Exchange Commission said one of the Chattanooga brokers involved made many of his contacts through the Chattanooga Quarterback Club. Paul Smith, former Hamilton County Democratic Party chairman, said Doug Dyer has been the president for many years of the club that promotes UTC and ... (click for more)

Dunbar Promoted To Head Wrestling Job At Ooltewah

J.D. Dunbar had been promoted to head wrestling coach at Ooltewah High School. Dunbar, an assistant with the Owls’ mat program since 2012, becomes a head coach for the first time at the high school level. He replaces Bryant Blackmon, who recently resigned. The 36-year-old Dunbar is also the school’s strength and conditioning coach and assistant head football coach on ... (click for more)

Another Big Week For Chattanooga Football Club

More than 10,000 fans gathered at Finley Stadium last Saturday to see a 5-3 penalty kick win over Miami United.   CFC keeper Gregga Hartley made a save and scored the winning penalty kick, helping his team to advance to the national semifinals on Saturday.  They will host Sonoma County Sol at 7:30 in the comfy confines of "Fort Finley"  Chattanooga is the top ... (click for more)