Life has a funny way of teaching you painful lessons. We remember those lessons and avoid the same obstacles and circumstances where we once were burned. No one touches the glowing burner on a stove after they have done it once.
The United Auto Workers union, however, refuses to process that same logical impulse that tells us to stop. They keep reaching out and getting burned. Once again, workers from an automotive manufacturing facility have rejected the UAW. By an almost 2-to-1 ratio this month, Nissan workers in Mississippi clearly sent the union a message, rejecting union rhetoric they have been buried with over the past few months. After numerous losses and millions of dues wasted over the past decade, most of us would take the hint.
But in a recent article written by UAW President Dennis Williams, it seems the union cannot look in the mirror and admit the truth. Blaming the loss on Nissan management, outside groups, and "anti-worker allies," Williams seems unable to understand that the automotive workers down south simply do not want to buy what the UAW is selling.
After all, Nissan workers earn great pay and benefits already. Even though the union tried to turn this organizing drive into a civil rights issue, minority workers at Nissan already are represented well in both management and non-management jobs. Pleased with their work environment and worried about tying themselves to the UAW, workers saw no value in outside representation.
The recent UAW scandal surely had a hand in convincing some workers unsure of how to vote. Williams' article discusses it, but does not reveal what current UAW workers know. While stating "no union dues were involved" in the Fiat Chrysler Automobiles-UAW scandal, workers know that the UAW senior official, General Holiefield, was receiving a large, dues-funded salary during the entire time that he was allegedly conspiring with an FCA official to steal money allotted for workers.
According to UAW financial reports, Holiefield earned at least $141,024 legally in his last full year as a union official. Workers deserve complete honesty, even when it is unpleasant. Whenever UAW officials are "on the clock," union dues are involved, and Holiefield's hefty salary and benefits originated from the hard work of those he represented.
Perhaps the most peculiar declaration from Williams was when he states "we had a solid majority prior to the filing for election." This cleverly-worded statement gives the false assumption that the majority of Nissan workers wanted UAW representation. But that may not be the case. Perhaps tired of being constantly bothered by union organizers, many workers may have agreed to an election to simply get the vote over with and get union organizers out of town.
It's possible that many more may have felt intimidated by union organizers and agreed to an election while in their presence, but voted no when offered a private, secret-ballot election. Claiming a "solid majority" before the vote justifies their continuing efforts, whether Nissan workers want them to or not.
Williams claims that anyone not aligned with the UAW is "anti-worker." However, you can be pro-worker and still reject the UAW. Thousands of Nissan workers did it recently, and thousands more have rejected the UAW over the last decade. Certainly workers on the line cannot be called "anti-worker," can they?
Williams promises to continue organizing efforts and says "a setback does not equal a defeat." Apparently, the UAW will continue to waste millions more of existing workers dues by throwing money at a lost cause.
No means no, and the UAW refuses to accept that the object of their desire wants no relationship with them. In the end, as always, it is the workers who are going to get burned.
Terry Bowman is a 21-year Ford-UAW worker.
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