Roy Exum: UAW A 'Co-Conspirator'

Thursday, April 18, 2019 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

In Michigan, where the winters are cold, dark and seemingly endless, a good coffee shop can turn some right serious coin. The key to the success at Mighty Good Coffee was thought to be its baristas, the experts who roast the beans with uncanny accuracy in the college town of Ann Arbor, where the University of Michigan is located, and free thought is said to thrive.

Some time ago a female server felt she was being discriminated against, and while her case settled out of court, the emboldened baristas decided to “take a stand” for American workers. They formed a labor union and, by golly, it was just sanctioned in an effort to empower the American workers’ voice to coffee-shop management.

As the United Auto Workers union huddled with the National Labor Relations Board yesterday in a further effort to unionize Chattanooga’s Volkswagen Assembly plant, the front office at Mighty Good Coffee in Ann Arbor chopped the very legs off the baristas and their stand for the worker. A terse notice was delivered to its four coffee shops yesterday that read, “This is to inform you Mighty Good Coffee will close all of its locations,” and barista Mandy Gallegos doesn’t quite get why it just happened: “We walk away with no job and no contract,” he told a television reporter in a shaky voice as he wonders what just happened.

What ‘really’ happened is the guys who own Mighty Good Coffee weren’t going to get pushed around by some kids who just made fools of themselves. Meanwhile, the scandalous UAW is jockeying for an election date at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant. From where I sit the UAW doesn’t stand a chance.

In 2014 a determined UAW effort to unionize the VW plants was shy by less than 100 votes. Since then, VW and the UAW have gone in markedly different directions. The VW plant has doubled in size, increased employee pay, added a new line, and better benefits. The UAW, now being continually outed as a cesspool of scofflaws, lost 35,000 members in 2018 alone. What else do you need to know?

An ongoing Federal investigation has already netted eight in a multi-million conspiracy and just last Friday, a Michigan district judge identified the UAW as a “co-conspirator” in the growing scandal. That label leaves no room to doubt the highest UAW leadership is indeed party to this conspiracy so where is the Department of Justice? The United States slammed Volkswagen for billions when its faulty diesels were discovered – not the individuals who knitted the ruse – so why charge only individuals at UAW when – make no mistake about it -- the union itself is the real monster?

Gary Casteel, who led the UAW assault on VW in 2014, has abruptly departed as the UAW secretary-treasurer. There is mounting speculation he may be in search of a “good field position” as the government investigation widens. Seriously, insiders say other high-ranking UAW officials, as well as Ford and Chevrolet leadership, may also be involved.

President Trump has publicly said the UAW leadership is “dishonest” and that he does not “like to meet with those guys.” The president asserts the UAW dues “are too high” and is among a small army of critics who blame the union greed as the overwhelming reason GM’s Lordstown plant has closed after 50 years, stranding nearly 2,000 people who now have no jobs.

A well-done website on the UAW “Culture of Corruption” can be found on and full-page ads appeared in the Chattanooga Times Free Press and both Detroit newspapers on Wednesday. The facts are unsettling and the majority of Chattanoogans, by a 2-to-1 margin in one poll, are stymied by the news 30 percent of full-time VW workers want a UAW vote.

Worse, there is little the union could do that VW hasn’t already done, but with over 700,000 on its pension rolls, the UAW is desperate for a new income source after being repeatedly shunned by every other manufacturing plant in the South.

A friend shared what a union card actually costs the holder:

* * *

Here's how it works: UAW dues are currently 2.5 hours of gross pay per month. So, let’s assume a new UAW member is being paid $20/hour and will normally work a 160-hour month.

Dividing 2.5 by 160 equals 1.5625 percent which doesn't sound like much but it is taken off the gross wages on the first pay of the new month.

A worker making $20 per hour makes $3,200 per month or $800 per week. His monthly dues are $31.25 per month.  If you assume weekly pay periods, $800 is reduced by taxes and then $31.25 is subtracted out.  $31.25 x 12 is $375 per year... enough to start a vacation or buy something useful.

* * *

What in heaven’s name could induce anyone to pay $31.25 every month for little, if any, representation? On the other hand, we know the union paid $218,000 in legal fees for former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell before he copped a plea. And to add insult to injury, on Tuesday he resigned his political post as a national committee member for the Michigan Democratic Party.

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