After dumping up to $5 million on the failed effort to unionize workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant—and untold millions more on the efforts to unionize other ‘transnationals’ in the U.S.—as expected, United Auto Workers’ bosses got their way on Tuesday by getting UAW convention delegates in Detroit to pass a 25% dues hike on the UAW’s 390,000 members.
However, in a move that holds UAW convention delegates unaccountable to their local union members (or the members’ wishes), Bob King and his fellow UAW bosses conducted a voice vote—as opposed to a secret-ballot vote, or a roll-call vote.
If the UAW bosses had allowed a secret-ballot election, rather than a voice vote, then UAW delegates (if they stayed true to their members wishes) could have voted secretly against the dues hike without fear of retribution from the UAW bosses.
On the other hand, if UAW bosses had held a roll call vote, then UAW members would be able to know how their delegates voted and, if necessary, could hold them accountable in local UAW halls across the country.
However, by conducting a voice vote, members have little recourse but to grumble and accept paying higher dues–or, if they live in a Right-To-Work state (like Michigan is now) they can opt out of paying the increased dues by dropping out of the union altogether.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the debate over the dues hike took two hours and was contentious:
Over two hours, 20 delegates spoke forcefully for the proposal and 20 spoke out against it, challenging UAW leadership’s fiscal management. The vote was taken by a show of hands and easily passed with several hundred delegates on the convention floor.
“I agree with the dues increase, but I don’t think it is the time,” said Rich Boyer, 51, of UAW Local 140 in Warren at the Chrysler truck assembly plant. “If we increase the dues now and don’t go to the bargaining table and get significant increases in wages, we are in trouble.”
The dues hike, according to the Associated Press, will raise a sorely needed $15 million per year, after dues revenue dropped nearly 40 percent since 2006 and the UAW bosses had been selling assets and raiding the union’s strike fund to pay its operating expenses.
- Flashback: Unionized Clerical Workers Fight UAW Greed: “They’re spending like the ‘Housewives of Beverly Hills.’”
While it is not known how many UAW members actually approve of the dues hike, some UAW members took to Facebook to voice their discontent:
Relatedly, it does appear that the UAW does seem to have a problem controlling its finances.