To restore accountability, workers must have free choice to refuse to fund union and reject union monopoly representation
Washington, DC (June 29, 2020) – On the eve of an announced meeting between US Attorney Matthew Schneider and new United Auto Workers (UAW) President Rory Gamble, National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix released a letter he sent urging Schneider to consider worker-empowering reforms for the corruption-plagued union.
The letter was sent Friday following reports that Schneider will meet with UAW President Rory Gamble on June 30 to discuss the union’s future after the widespread federal probe of the union leadership’s corruption.
The investigation has uncovered the misspending of millions of dollars in worker funds by prominent UAW officials up to and including former president Gary Jones. The investigation has snagged convictions of at least 14 people, including at least 11 people affiliated with the UAW so far. A full federal takeover of the union has been discussed by federal law enforcement officials, and news reports say that Gamble himself may be under scrutiny as well.
In the letter, Mix points out that coercive privileges granted to the UAW by federal law created an environment where UAW officials could all too easily take advantage of workers, writing:
“UAW union officials have perpetrated this abuse using the extraordinary powers granted to them by federal law — primarily their dual coercive powers of monopoly exclusive representation and authorization to cut deals mandating that rank-and-file workers pay union dues or fees, or else be fired…”
The letter urges that any reforms must “squarely address” the control that union officials have over rank-and-file workers, suggesting that federal agents should “impose an immediate recertification vote for every union local touched by the corruption,” “empower workers as individuals to fight corruption through refusing to fund the UAW,” and “impose an independent auditor tasked with providing full transparency to rank-and-file workers of all union financial transactions.” These remedies, Mix says, should be “part of a federal takeover of the union, or at least…required of the union to avoid a federal takeover.”
Mix concludes by observing that “this is far from the first time unaccountable union officials have been caught funding their limousine lifestyles with…funds that were supposed to serve workers’ interests.” In light of past fixes not deterring union bosses from abusing their power, Mix exhorts Schneider to “try some new ideas” that focus on empowering the workers “whose trust and money has been systematically stolen.”
The letter and news of a potential federal takeover of the UAW come after the union’s upper echelon has endorsed Joe Biden for president. Biden has publicly stated that, if he is elected, he will work to overturn all Right to Work laws in the country. That would force all worker victims of the UAW corruption to once again pay money to the union or else be fired. In 27 states, including Michigan where the UAW is headquartered, Right to Work laws ensure that no worker can be fired for refusing to tender dues or fees to a union hierarchy as a condition of employment.
“The revelations of greed and shamelessness that continue to arise in the UAW probe are no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the coercive privileges granted union bosses by federal law,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Though we urge Mr. Schneider to push the reforms detailed in our letter which will put the power to hold union officials accountable in workers’ hands, there is ultimately no place in federal law for provisions that force workers to pay union bosses or accept their so-called ‘representation’ to keep or get a job.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in about 200 cases nationwide per year.