Why Michigan UAW Veteran is Opting Out

Posted on Friday, May 2nd, 2014 at 2:14 pm - Permalink

Michigan is now a right to work state. On Monday a UAW veteran of 16 years voiced his reasons for opting out of union dues. Below is the entire post Todd Lemire wrote on his blog on Monday. To see Todd's website click here. 

Why I’m Opting out of the Union

Below is a letter that was generated after 16 years as a member of the UAW.  I recently started paying attention to where and how the UAW spends the memberships’ dues and it has directly led me to remove myself as a member.  Until our contract expires on September of 2015 I will be forced to pay Agency Fees amounting to approximately 62% of what a normal dues paying member pays.  Right to Work has given me back the freedom to choose not to finance the ideology of the Democratic Party against my will.  Please feel free to share this letter with others who may feel the same.

To my UAW brothers and sisters,

As a man in the skilled trades, I have greatly benefited from all of the hard work, sacrifices and efforts of the founding UAW leaders and members. I make a good wage, work in a safe environment, have protection from unfair labor practices, carry comprehensive medical coverage, get several weeks paid vacation, paid holidays, and will be retiring with a pension. I thank the men and women of the UAW that went broke during sit-ins, died in strikes, and struggled through uncertain times to build a strong union. UAW workers have paid with their wages, safety and even their lives.

But how long are we members expected to pay for the successes of the past? I will pay $3,389 in dues during the current four-year contract and if the dues increase I will pay $4,234 for the next contract. I am not averse to paying dues but need to see a better stewardship of my money before I will agree to pay any more.

Times have changed but unfortunately the UAW has not changed with them. The UAW clings to strategies of the past that will not work in today’s world. They demand our loyalty and money, citing their glories of yesterday, while making no gains for us today and putting us in danger by depleting our strike fund. It is clear the UAW has no plan to rethink its strategy and will continue to spend money it doesn’t have on a tactic that repeatedly fails.

Here’s the UAW’s big plan: Unionize the south.

Here’s the flaw:
The southern non-union worker cannot see the benefit of joining the UAW when they look at our union of late:

• Two-tier pay
• No pension for new hires
• Pay freezes
• Theft of the “Strike Fund”
• Dues increasing
• Unaudited spending

Why would a southern man want to give his hard-earned money to an organization that has no control on its current spending and has made no gains for its current members?

I do not believe the UAW leadership has the willingness or ability to make the changes necessary to secure the union’s future. If they will not admit that they are accountable for many of the obstacles they face, then how will they ever overcome them? They blame “outside billionaires” for the failure to unionize the south, yet they refuse to admit the following is their responsibility:

• Public opinion for the union is at its lowest
• Current members are disenfranchised and have no connection to their leadership
• Southern Republican workers cannot relate to the northern Democratic UAW

I think of the saying, “A bird in hand is better than in two in the bush.” UAW leadership is so consumed with the drive in the south, that they have taken their eyes and ears off the members in the north. We have become checkbooks to their unfettered spending and planning. Until they treat their existing members with value, workers in the south will see no value in the union.

With great thought and regret, I have concluded that the only way I can truly support my union is to stop funding it. If I continue to feed the beast it will not stop until it has devoured all we’ve accomplished.

Todd Lemire
Local 600