Corruption and Forced Dues Go Hand-In-Hand

Corruption Highlights Forced-Dues Injustice

Even as the FBI investigates Norwood Jewell (pictured at right) for allegedly living the high life with money that was supposed to benefit workers, he is eligible to collect a pension derived from workers’ forced dues and fees. Credit: uaw.org

National Right to Work Legislation Introduced in U.S. Senate

According to a February 1 article by Detroit News court reporter Robert Snell, federal criminal charges could be filed against the United Auto Workers (UAW) in connection with a widening corruption scandal. 

U.S. attorneys have already repeatedly labeled the UAW union, along with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and a worker training center jointly operated by the two entities, as  a “co-conspirator” in a scheme to pilfer millions of dollars from the center.

Three ex-UAW bosses have already pleaded guilty to participating in the looting. And, as Mr. Snell and other journalists have noted, multiple additional former and current UAW bosses are now under investigation by the FBI for misappropriation of training center funds and other crimes.

Funds Designated For Workers Paid For a $30,000 Bash Honoring UAW Honcho

Meanwhile, federal labor law continues to force tens of thousands of auto-assembly and auto-parts manufacturing workers in states like Missouri, Ohio and Illinois to pay dues or fees to the UAW brass as a condition of employment.

If they refuse, they will be fired.

According to a prosecutor who spoke with Mr. Snell, former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell is one of  “lots of individuals and entities” who are currently under criminal investigation.

Among the acts for which Mr. Jewell potentially faces an indictment is the tapping of money from the FCA/UAW National Training Center (NTC) to “pay for more than $10,000 worth of golf resort accommodations” in Palm Springs, Calif., and tickets for Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

The Palm Springs discovery is “part of a broader focus on how UAW officials spent training funds” and worker union dues (largely involuntary) in this desert resort city.

Prior to ascending to the UAW presidency in June 2018, union Region 5 Director Gary Jones held annual conferences in Palm Springs.

The FBI is also looking into the alleged expenditure of $30,000 in NTC money to throw a party for Mr. Jewell.

According to a June 2018 article for the News coauthored by Mr. Snell, party guests were served “‘ultra-premium’ liquor.” “Strolling models” lit union officials’ cigars.

And a $3,000 tab was racked up in order to buy “wine in bottles with custom labels” that featured Mr. Jewell’s name.

Under Investigation, But Still Eligible For a Forced-Dues-Funded Pension

National Right to Work Committee President Mark Mix commented:

“Many auto-industry workers across the U.S. are surely unhappy about the fact that, as a consequence of the pro-union monopoly National Labor Relations Act [NLRA], they must remain subject to the rule of a union that the FBI labels as a ‘co-conspirator’ in years of criminal activity.

“Despite the legal jeopardy faced by the UAW and a number of its current and former officers, workers are still being forced by federal law to accept UAW bosses as their ‘exclusive’ bargaining agent on matters concerning their pay, benefits and work rules.

“And auto workers employed in states that still lack Right to Work protections for private-sector employees can still be forced to pay for Norwood Jewell’s pension and retirement health benefits while the FBI investigates him.

“On the other hand, FCA, GM and Ford employees in Right to Work states like Michigan, Texas, Kentucky and Indiana are free to protest allegedly rampant corruption by resigning from the UAW and cutting off all financial support for it, without having to lose their jobs.”

us-senator-rand-paul
If S.525, introduced by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, becomes law, workers nationwide will be free both to join and pay dues to a labor union and to resign from and cease bankrolling a union they no longer support. Source: US Senate

Kentucky Senator Introduces Measure That Would End Forced Union Dues and Fees

Mr. Mix continued:

“Big Labor corruption cases like the outrageous misuse of worker training center money to which several UAW bosses and their FCA cohorts have already confessed highlight the injustice of forced financial support for unions, which is propped up and promoted by the federal government. 

“No American worker in any state should be forced by law to pay money to a union that may be corrupt, counterproductive, ineffective, or all three, simply in order to get or keep a job.

“Fortunately, on February 14, U.S. Sen. Rand Paul [R-Ky.] and 16 original cosponsors introduced S.525, the National Right to Work Act, on Capitol Hill.

“This Valentine’s Day gift to the millions of American workers who are still being forced to fork over dues or fees to a union they never supported, or no longer support, would repeal all the provisions in federal labor law that authorize compulsory payments to unions as a condition of employment.

“In an age of legislative overreach, S.525 is one of the shortest bills ever introduced.

“It does not add a single word to federal law. Instead, it simply removes the handful of passages in the National Labor Relations Act [NLRA] and the Railway Labor Act [RLA] that give union officials the power to extract dues or fees from workers who wish to be union-free, or get them fired if they refuse.”

It’s Washington, D.C.’s Responsibility to Fix Problem That It Created

Although the NLRA does allow states to enact Right to Work laws, and 27 states have already taken advantage of that prerogative, the federal government is responsible for creating the problem of private-sector forced unionism.

In fact, the forced-dues amendment to the RLA adopted by Congress in 1951 actually blocks state Right to Work laws from protecting employees in the railroad and airline industries.

As a consequence of the RLA, tens of thousands of railroad and airline industry employees who hold jobs based in Right to Work states can still be fired for refusal to pay union dues or fees, despite what the labor laws of their own states say.  

Moreover, thousands of additional defense, health-care, and other industry employees who work at military bases, centers for disease control, national parks, and other jurisdictions in Right to Work states that are regarded as “exclusive federal enclaves” are currently forced by federal law to bankroll a union.

One important benefit of S.525 is that it would close both the RLA loophole and the “exclusive federal enclave” loophole that currently prevent state Right to Work laws from protecting substantial numbers of employees.

In the weeks and months ahead, Committee members and legislative staff will press hard for hearings and floor votes on S.525 and parallel national Right to Work legislation that is expected to be introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives soon after this Newsletter edition goes to press.

Nearly 80% of Americans Who Regularly Vote Support Right to Work Principle

“After roll-call Right to Work floor votes in the Senate and House, concerned citizens across the U.S. will know for sure which of their federal elected officials support employee freedom of choice, and which are Big Labor stooges,” Mr. Mix explained.

“That alone will make a major difference.

“Poll after poll shows nearly 80% of Americans who regularly vote in federal elections support the Right to Work principle.

“Politicians who ignore what their constituents think and vote to perpetuate forced union dues may well suffer ballot-box repercussions down the road.”

(source: April 2019 National Right To Work Newsletter)