‘No More Forced Dues’ for Crooked UAW Bosses?

Former President Gary Jones is just one of many top UAW officials who exploited their coercive power to enrich themselves even as they publicly pretended to be leaders of a “workers’ movement.” Credit: A.F. Branco for NRTWC.

Restoring Rank-and-File’s Right to Work Key to Cleaning Up Union

On June 30, Rory Gamble, the president of the scandal-ridden United Auto Workers (UAW/AFL-CIO), met with U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider, who is overseeing prosecutors’ efforts to root out corruption in the UAW and in management of UAW-controlled auto companies.

Mr. Gamble hopes to persuade Mr. Schneider not to initiate a government takeover of the crooked union.

As reporters Robert Snell and Kalea Hall pointed out in an article regarding the private meeting for the Detroit News, Mr. Gamble’s “agreement to meet with investigators” carries risks.

Corruption a Pervasive Problem Not Just in UAW,  But in Big Labor as a Whole

Federal agents, they explained, are now “probing ties between [Mr. Gamble] and one of the union’s highest paid vendors as well as whether [union officials] received bribes.”

On June 3, former UAW President Gary Jones became the 10th senior UAW official to plead guilty to federal crimes since 2017 in connection with an ongoing probe into embezzlement, racketeering, and labor law violations.

Corruption is a pervasive problem not just in the UAW, but in Organized Labor as a whole, and government policies promoting forced union dues are a principal source of such corruption.

That’s why the National Right to Work Committee is urging Mr. Schneider to make the elimination of the forced-dues privileges that UAW bosses continue to wield over employees in states like Illinois, Missouri and Ohio a core part of his program to clean up the union.

Mr. Schneider has repeatedly stated publicly that a takeover of the UAW, which would surely entail the putting out to pasture of a number of current UAW officials, is on the table.

However, he has also indicated that such a radical and rare move could be avoided if the UAW brass were to agree soon to far-reaching reforms that would make it effectively impossible in the future for union bosses like Mr. Jones to get away, year after year, with ripping off workers.

Empower Individual Workers To ‘Fight Corruption Through Refusing to Fund’ the UAW

Which reforms?

Mr. Schneider has not publicly specified what he has in mind, but “Right to Work protections for all employees subject to UAW contracts would be a great start,” said Committee President Mark Mix. “It ought to be required from UAW officials in order to avoid a takeover, or alternatively made the first order of business in a UAW takeover if union kingpins balk.”

Speaking in his capacities as president of the Committee and the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, Mr. Mix wrote to Mr. Schneider on June 26.

As Mr. Mix explained in the letter, UAW bosses abused workers, year after year, by using “the extraordinary privileges” granted to them by federal law. 

Foremost among them are “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 (in states without Right to Work protections).”

While Mr. Mix proposed certain reforms that would be very useful to deter future embezzlement and racketeering, one proposal is simply indispensable: Empowering “workers as individuals to fight corruption through refusing to fund” the UAW.

Mr. Schneider could accomplish this end first by requiring UAW officials, as a condition of avoiding a takeover, to “renounce and cease all enforcement of existing so-called ‘union security’ clauses that make payment of union dues or fees” mandatory.

Without Individual Free Choice, Reform Can’t Happen

The next step is changing the UAW constitution to “forbid the negotiation” of such forced-dues clauses in all future contracts.

Finally, wrote Mr. Mix, Mr. Schneider should demand that UAW kingpins end enforcement “of any dues checkoff authorizations or other policies that limit workers’ ability to immediately stop deductions of union dues or fees from their paychecks.”

Individual employees’ free choice to bankroll a union, or not, is the cleansing material needed to clean up the UAW.

Without it, Mr. Schneider’s bid to bring lasting, genuine and positive change to the UAW cannot succeed, no matter how well-intentioned he is.