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Labor Notes

The Coup to Save the UAW

Those unhappy with scandals within the ranks are making moves

Brian Young's picture
Feb 03, 2020

For the last few years, the UAW has been under investigation from the feds. Millions have been spent on legal fees and the feds are looking into the possibility that just as much has been wasted and stolen by corrupt leadership. It has gotten so bad that the federal government has floated the idea of a takeover of the union similar to what happened with the Teamsters in 1989. They were under federal oversight until 2015.

To thwart a possible takeover and hold the leadership accountable, a revolt is happening within the rank and file. A group, Unite All Workers for Democracy (UAWD) has formed to clean up the union. The coalition of locals say that their first goal is to trigger a specially called national convention. At the convention, UAWD members want to amend the union constitution to mandate direct elections of their top officials. They are calling for a one member, one vote standard that would allow the rank and file to choose their International leaders.

In a statement announcing their formation, UAWD notes that their “union was once a militant workforce, but today we find that the power of the UAW has been consolidated into the hands of a privileged few at Solidarity House. The sad reality is that too many of us have become more loyal to leaders than to the actual principles of unionism.”

They note that too often loyalists to the current leadership are the ones that are promoted while reformers are not only held back but are smeared and outcast by the International leadership. This has led to the union’s last two Presidents being forced to step down and their current one being under federal investigation.

To trigger a special convention, UAWD must gain the support of 15 local unions in at least 5 different states. These locals must make up at least 20% o the total membership of the union, meaning they must represent at least 79,000 members. So far Locals 31 Kansas City KS, 167 Grand Rapids MI, 259 Long Island New York, 276 Arlington TX, 566 Menominee MI, 686 Lockport NY, 722 Hudson WI,723 Monroe MI, 774 Tonawanda NY, 838 Waterloo IA, 862 Louisville KY, 869 Warren MI, 961 Detroit MI, 1097 Rochester NY, 1250 Brook Park OH, 1853 Spring Hill TN, 1981 National Writers Union, 2021 Tiffin OH, 2075 Lima OH, and 2322 Holyoke MA, have joined the effort. These locals represent about 45,000 members. This means that they have already met 2 of the 3 criteria with enough locals supporting the effort and locals from 5 states supporting a call for a special convention. It is interesting to note that many of these locals are not listed on the Union’s Wikipedia page, have they been removed because of their activism?

The UAW was once one of the great unions that set the standard for middle-class America. With the recent corruption, they have lost some of that luster. As Chrysler officials told federal prosecutors their goal was to keep union leaders “fat, dumb and happy.” That sentiment has led to tens of thousands of union jobs being outsourced, while UAW leaders lined their pockets with kickbacks from vendors and executives. With a federal takeover on the horizon, UAWD’s goals are to bring the union back to its roots, representing the membership and self-police corruption. Click here to download information packets from the UAWD.

Find out more about UAWD's efforts on llast week's UCOMM Live.

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