Let's start with some history: Ford's Dearborn truck plant, part of the company's massive River Rouge complex, was the center of a strike in 1941 that led to Ford signing the first "closed shop" agreement in the industry. The agreement obliged every worker at the plant to be a dues-paying member of the United Auto Workers. In December 2012, however, Michigan Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation making Michigan a right-to-work state, which outlawed closed shops. The new law gave workers the right to opt out of union membership and stop paying dues even if they were still covered by union activities like collective bargaining. For employees at the Dearborn plant, the right-to-work clauses take effect at the end of their current contract in 2015.

As a tool-and-die maker at Ford's Dearborn plant for 16 years, Todd Lemire pays dues to the UAW – about two hours' salary per month. However, he's been unhappy with the UAW's support of the Democratic party, and not wanting to wait until next year to be out of the UAW entirely he invoked his Beck Rights, which state that a non-member of a union does not have to pay dues to support non-core activities, such as political spending. But Lemire wasn't happy that Ford still subtracted the total amount of dues, with the UAW reimbursing the difference, so he filed suit with the National Labor Relations Board, feeling that the workaround violates his rights.

Lemire's case is just a week old, so it could be a while before a resolution. Yet, as September 15, 2015 draws near and the right-to-work laws take full effect for Michigan workers – and others wonder whether it could help revitalize the state's manufacturing base – a case like this adds more fuel to the discussion.


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  • 301 Comments
      19nomad56
      • 4 Months Ago

      I have been a teacher in California for 20 years. Although our district's union has represented the teachers well, I believe it is so narrowly focused on increasing salaries and reducing work that it has had a detrimental effect on our ability to provide a quality education to our students (I have two of my own in the district). Our district (and most others) has fought against educational reform and the efforts to eliminate tenure. I've had a couple of peers that should have in no way been in a classroom, but because of tenure laws they were allowed to continue and degrade the educational experience of hundreds of students.

      I look at all of the political mailers that my union publishes during elections, and not one has ever supported anyone other than a Democratic candidate. As a right leaning voter I can understand Mr. Lemire's concerns that part of his paycheck goes towards supporting candidates and issues he does not. My union should not presume to advocate for me, just because I am in a particular profession.

      I believe union members should be given options. Next to each option is a check mark and a monetary amount. If I choose to support collective bargaining, I check the box and the union takes X amount of money from my paycheck. If I don't support political advertisements, I don't pay for them.

        james
        • 3 Months Ago
        @19nomad56

        I suggest that  if  u want to opt out of the union  who negotiated wages and benefits, then you work for the wages and benefits before the union signed the contract.  why should you receive  the negotiated wages and benefits ? unions in general  have negotiated wages on average 33 % higher then non union workers on their own.  the ceo's have contracts how about you ?

          LCC
          • 3 Months Ago
          @james

          And that there is the problem altogether.  33% higher wages for manual labor.  I have relatives who work at Ford. They tell me what they do for $33/hour and its embarrassing. Pull lever, wait for next part, inspect, press button and pull lever again.

          Dirk Warner
          • 3 Months Ago
          @james

          Scab is a Scab.. If the shoe fits!!!


           

        gargoyle
        • 3 Months Ago
        @19nomad56

        Like so many things in life--you get out of it what you put into it.  If you don't like the direction your union is heading--you can always get involved in the leadership.  

          Jon
          • 3 Months Ago
          @gargoyle

          Easier said than done, particularly for those union members whose political views don't conform 100% with the views of those comprising the current union "leadership."

          engr00
          • 3 Months Ago
          @gargoyle

          Ya right, how does one person move a ship of fools?

          teesquare
          • 3 Months Ago
          @gargoyle

          Or you can be SMART..and actually get rid of the useless unions. Most unions merely facilitate dragging DOWN productivity by hiding the workers that are the lazy slobs. Unions make it impossible to fire crappy employees.

          Unions are nothing more than Demoncrap money machines. Don't think so...?

          Then SHOW ONE union that votes for any other party than Demoncraps EVERY time....

        Tommy
        • 3 Months Ago
        @19nomad56

        Wait until this scab gets fired for no good reason or blamed for building another POS Ford and they make it his fault that the truck he built is garbage.Guess who he's gonna run back to!Let him leave the union but let him lose his wages and benefits along with it.

          mrpik
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Tommy

          This is what you get when your stupid leadership creates a two-tier wage system that generates anomisity and disdain!

      road travlr
      • 3 Months Ago

      I worked for a container company and we were ""unionized" by US Steel Laborers. ALL our district leader could talk about was funding their war chest against Republicans in the election of 2008,2010,2012. It was crazy. This guy was spinning his spill given to him by the mafia in charge, and expected us to follow suit. He said we needed to increase member dues to "lead the fight" for a new party rule.


      JamesB
      • 4 Months Ago

      This case is a pandoras box for the Democrats.  The Supreme Court has ruled that workers do not have to pay for political activity, but did not rule on whether the dues in question were refunded or deducted from the assessment.  Obama's minions on the NLRB will delay this and then try to limit it, but they can not stop it.  Unions are already required to legally separate the funds so it is not an issue about reducing the dues assessment.  However, the unions are taking up to a year to refund the cash and that is an interest free loan in effect.   Unions are afraid that loosing the cash will reduce their political power since they will no longer be able to intervene with massive advertising at the last minute.  In places where the rule is enforced, unions have been able to work around it by delaying refunds.   Yet ruling against the workers will throw it into court and that might have adverse impacts for Democrats in 2016.

        Nick
        • 3 Months Ago
        @JamesB

        Political contribution can no longer come out of union dues, but a seperate fund set up for voluntary contributions.  Not all union members contribute to it.

      Rob H
      • 3 Months Ago

      He wants out of the union... and he wants to stop giving it his money because he doesn't like their support for crazy... I get that. He should be allowed out and so should any other member who wants out. There's no decent reason to keep them, except that contracts have been signed and unions want to spend for Democrats. Therefore, they want to milk it as long as possible.

      The UAW and many other unions will see a drop in membership as people realize how hardcore leftist they are and that being so far left is hurting the very people paying for it, rather than helping.

        maxwell
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Rob H

        Looks like he's already getting his Dues back, but wants to get them in a different way? He doesn't like Unions...so I would say the Union should sue him for every Benefit he has received through their negotiations with Ford. Fair is Fair!

          kevin
          • 3 Months Ago *Edited*
          @maxwell

          You and your liberal union thugs are part of what is wrong with our country today.  Why in the world should the union sue anybody because they are not happy with their membership and where their membership dues are going?

        Nick
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Rob H

          Those that drop out forfeit all union bargain pay and benefits, healthcare coverage, retirement pension, 401K, etc.  They will work for less, and have no union protection of their seniority, or job preference, recall rights during a layoff, or union bargained vacation, etc.  They will be like McDonalds workers.  They will get whatever managment wants them to have, period.  No more.

          omgcool
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Nick

          Here's a more realistic scenario (and one that has happened to my father in the distant past):

          Said person drops out of Union and receives slightly less pay (after accounting for discontinuation of Union dues, possibly an insignificant amount). Regardless, he/she works hard because he/she recognizes his/her expendability and that his/her worth is indicated by his/her performance. Ford recognizes his/her hard work, notes that he/she is far more efficient than the traditional Union worker, and as a reward [and due to good business sense] gives first opportunities for overtime (and/or hires more non-unionized workers). Union workers get crabby claiming it's "not fair," and move for the non-unionized worker(s) to be terminated. Ford again resorts to paying more for workers whose value to the company is measured more by their Union persuasion than their efficiency and quality-work.

          GM and Chrysler's bankruptcies are often pawned the result of corporate mismanagement. That is certainly part of the truth. Anyone who thinks over-paid and over-protected workers had nothing to do with the hemorrhaging funds, however, is so sorely mistaken.

      John Vaughan
      • 4 Months Ago

      The last time unions actually "bargained in good faith" for their members was back in the early 50's. Since then Union officials have only been in it to control their members, make themselves look good and take as much of the dues for their own use as they possibly can

        Hemified
        • 3 Months Ago
        @John Vaughan

        Very true in many ways.

        Kathe Cote
        • 3 Months Ago
        @John Vaughan

        Our union reps are required to attend all our meetings. If they do anything the members disapprove of they will be torn to shreds at the meetings. WE control our union reps, and they fear us. John Vaughn likes to use right wing generalizations, so he doesn't have to actually think.

        Shayla
        • 3 Months Ago
        @John Vaughan

        Tell that to the railroad employees who need a union to keep the company from abusing them by overworking them.

          James
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Shayla

          The railroads are a bad example. The unions forced the railroads to keep brakemen and conductors on the job for years when they were no longer needed because of new technology.

        Nick
        • 3 Months Ago
        @John Vaughan

        John, you obviously know little about the UAW.................

      BenRoethig
      • 4 Months Ago

      He shouldn't be covered by collective bargaining or anything else UAW related that he doesn't pay for, but he also shouldn't be forced to join a union which these days are as much PACs as they are workers organizations.  

        TrueDat
        • 4 Months Ago
        @BenRoethig
        He's not opposed to paying union dues; his opposition is that by paying dues in full, a percentage of those dues goes to the democratic party to support lobbyists. That's the chunk he doesn't want to pay, and rightfully so. NO PERSON should be forced to donate money to a political cause they personally oppose. that is wrong.
          Leland M. Glen
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TrueDat

          Please do not be rational; expect name calling and personal attacks from liberals.

          Jan William Bayus
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TrueDat

          He should be able to quit the union, and negotiate his wages on his own. The UAW should not be forced to defend him and he should be treated as an independent contractor by his employer. Let's see how long he survives in the workforce.

          car-a-holic
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TrueDat

          Unions represent employees and are therefore also a representative for those interests. Why shouldn't they express those interests to politicians? That's democracy, inconvenient but true.

          Greedy wealthy folks seeking to wring all they can for themselves do no less, and you applaud them instead? 

          He should have chosen a different job since he knew it was a union shop and dies were required and also were used to protect/ express his interests. I wish my personal opinion carried the weight provided by a union lobbyist.....

          chris
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TrueDat

          If I read the article correctly his complaint is he objects to the dues being deducted in full and then the UAW reimburses the PAC amount.Union members have always had the right to receive this. Being a cars carrying Union member myself and having worked in right to work states ..most of these guys want all the benefits ,,,for free

          MadDawg
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TrueDat

          True, but did you read that he is already being reimbursed that portion of his dues so what is the point?

          Carpinions
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TrueDat

          "Please do not be rational; expect name calling and personal attacks from liberals."

          Huh. I wonder why, then, the first word out of conservatives' mouths any time the word 'union' comes up, regardless of the union in question, is 'thugs'? My law-abiding, tax paying, hard-working family members who are part of unions are 'thugs'?

          And you wonder why people slam conservatives.

          Billy Farmer
          • 3 Months Ago
          @TrueDat

          wakan , please do tell us the name of your fictional company ?


          Gator
          • 4 Months Ago
          @TrueDat

          He should have to pay the dues and the chunk that goes to the democratic party regardless of political ties. He chose to be a part of UAW and that's how they get their employee benefits and perks.

        JSH
        • 4 Months Ago
        @BenRoethig

        I agree, it is only logical that if someone wants out of the union they shouldn't be covered by the union.  However, that wasnt' the purpose of "Right to Work" laws.  These laws are designed to reduce the amount of union money in politics.  The laws are specifically written to allow non-paying workers to keep all union benefits because otherwise people wouldn't quit the union.  

          Mike
          • 4 Months Ago
          @JSH

          Actually, these laws are in place so that it limits how much the unions can harass workers who opt out of the union.  Unions act as organized crime thugs.  It's a no win situation for workers that are in an industry where unions are used.  Damned by the companies they work for, damned by the unions they pay fees to.  As a kid I worked in a union, but I also was limited by law as to how many hours I could work.  I paid dues to the union and because I was not allowed to work more than 20 hours in a week during school, I didn't get to take part in the union benefits plan I paid for.  Unions had a place once upon a time, they used to fight for peoples rights, now they're run by corrupt greedy people just like the companies that use them.

          think befor you ink
          • 4 Months Ago
          @JSH

          Ya in time they will not have a job to quit from. Unions are crap.

        car-a-holic
        • 4 Months Ago *Edited*
        @BenRoethig

        He choose, applied, accepted that union job. Quit if you don't like it. 

          Texas4Ever
          • 4 Months Ago
          @car-a-holic

          Its not the almighty union's anything. Ford is the employer

          Pj Taintz
          • 4 Months Ago
          @car-a-holic

          the law changed, so now he has other options. funny how people tend to do things for themselves when given more than 1 options

          jfb
          • 4 Months Ago
          @car-a-holic

          He has a job at Ford, not at the UAW.  Ford pays his wages and his benefits.  The UAW skims of the top for their activities, much of which goes to support the democratic party.  Let's remember who ruined GM and Chrysler and who was the primary beneficiary of the gov't bailout - the UAW!!!

          Roy
          • 4 Months Ago
          @car-a-holic

          My father work for Knudsen and they closed the plant. The Union did nothing to help the 27 workers except tell them to mail in their monthly dues. They told my dad if there was opening at other locations he could apply like everyone else walking off the street. The felt the union was paid off.  It's all about the money.

          chief
          • 4 Months Ago
          @car-a-holic

          where did it say he didn't like the job or was a conservative? also, your first sentence is horribly spelled and constructed.

        Jan William Bayus
        • 4 Months Ago
        @BenRoethig

        There is no comparison between a PAC and a union. Just because the union tends to support Democrats, doesn't make it a PAC. And at least the money from the union going to the candidates is American money. There is no way to determine who is giving money to the super-pacs. You want to talk about buying votes and voter fraud? Look no further than the PACs,  that is where the big pay off is. NOT in the unions.

          19nomad56
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Jan William Bayus

          TENDS to support Democrats? I can't tell you the last time (in 20 years of working) my union has supported a Republican for anything at any level of election.

          Alton Robinson
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Jan William Bayus

          look to your boy oblammer allowing foreigners to contribute to his campaign, oh but that's ok he's a socialists.

          Craig McKiernan
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Jan William Bayus

          Yeah nothing to see here move along

          https://www.opensecrets.org/orgs/list.php

           

        Katherine
        • 4 Months Ago
        @BenRoethig
        Unions can't spend dues money on PAC activities and the separate contributions some workers make to the PAC wouldn't be 5% of the union's activities.  But the TEA Party is so stridently anti-labor, even that 5% is enough to make them want to destroy unions.
          Texas4Ever
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Katherine

          Nice bunch of mealy-mouthed rhetoric Katherine. The bottom line is that people who dislike politics or a particular political bunch just want to be left alone and the unions won't do it. They always find a way to write the Democrat party a check with Your money and imply Your support with Their endorsement.

          It just rubs people the wrong way, hence the lawsuit.

          Pj Taintz
          • 4 Months Ago
          @Katherine

          anyone who isnt an idiot wants to destroy the unions.

          actually allowing them to destroy themselves seem to be working pretty well

        Nick
        • 3 Months Ago
        @BenRoethig

        If unions are "PACS," than what are corporations, who pay millions to help Republicans and Tea-Partiers get elected?   Everyone knows that the  Republican Party is NOT a friend of the American middleclass, as they are all corporate whores who lick the boots of the super rich.  If you are a member of the middleclass and vote Republican, you ar self-defeatingly shooting yourself in the foot, whether you realize it or not.  Corporate greed is killing the American middleclass and driving it into poverty, and homelessness.  That's a fact!  Wale up America, and see what corporations and the Republicans are doing to you!!

          holysmoke.s
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Nick

          So, under Obama, the middleclass is now poorer, the Rich are getting much richer.  Go read the articles.  Income inequality has jumped by huge margins under Obama.


          Also, the Democratic representatives in D.C. are only there to make themselves filty rich.  Go look at Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and their huge jumps in wealth since taking office.

      Victor Kuc
      • 4 Months Ago

      Given that the UAW is the 9th biggest political donor in the country and has politics which are... lets just say... a bit skewed. I can understand this worker's position.

        superlightv12
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Victor Kuc

        Supporting a party that advocates worker rights is what they should do. They represent labor. The Republican party is supported by the anti-labor Koch brothers. They have a track record of taking away workers rights in wages, safety, environment. Reagan fought unemployment insurance. Can you imagine the homelessness we would have had during the Bush recession? Banks and automakers get taxpayers bail-outs while the laid off workers go homeless? Should a union back that?

          mylexicon
          • 3 Months Ago
          @superlightv12

          Cake tastes delicious, but it's not healthy. If the Democratic Party cannot handle the counter-intuitive aspects of life and economics, they ought not masquerade as political leaders.

          Victor Kuc
          • 4 Months Ago *Edited*
          @superlightv12

           Imagine if Dodge had a monopoly on auto manufacturing in the state of Michigan and that to work there, Dodge could take money out of your agreed upon paycheck to support a political party of their choice. Would you want that? of course not. Then why should the UAW which DOES have a monopoly on auto labor in Michigan as well as other sates have that power?

          Gloria
          • 4 Months Ago
          @superlightv12

          Another knock on the Koch Brothers who actually contribute a ton of money to charities the help. But then you would have to stop listening to that ding dong Harry Reid.  http://online.wsj.com/articles/charitable-gifts-from-wealthy-koch-brothers-often-prompt-partisan-reactions-1407117054  http://www.newsmax.com/Murdock/Koch-Brothers-Philanthropy-Reid/2014/03/21/id/560986/

          Read these two recent articles and then restate your biased reply.

        Nick
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Victor Kuc

        And guess who is the NUMBER ONE largest political donor in this country?   Corporations!!!   And they donate to the Republican Party to fight for the corporations and the super wealthy, and against the American middleclass.  Are you a member of the middleclass?   Then don't self-defeatingly vote for Republicans!  It's that simple!

      JeffC
      • 4 Months Ago

      Unions are clearly dwindling, and will soon be a thing of the past if they don't change with the times.  There are many things about a union that are beneficial to the companies that employ them, as well as the union membership itself.  When unions began demanding more in spite of the companies who employ them were making less, they became more of a problem than a solution for their employer.  Just as business has had to overcome unforeseen regulations and government demands, so too do unions need to bend and flex to accommodate these unfunded mandates by government.  Unions support the very part of government that is detrimental to business, and they don't see this as a problem.  Working WITH their employers instead of against their employers is the exact reason that Unions are near extinction, and they wonder why. 

        Nick
        • 3 Months Ago
        @JeffC

        As unions go, so goes the American middleclass; both are shrinking.  More and more of the middleclass are losing their jobs, falling into poverty and homelessness.  The middleclass hasn't had a payraise in 8 years, and unless things turn drastically around, will be working for the rest of their lives, because most have less than $20,000 saved for retirement.  If you are middleclass and you votre Republican, you are part of the problem, not part of the solution, it's that simple.  Corporate greed is killing the American middleclass, not unions.  Unions are it's only hope!

          holysmoke.s
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Nick

          But wait, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Barrack Obama had Total Democratic control of everthing for all those years.  YET, the USA is going to hell and you blame the Republicans even though it was the Democrats that put us in this mess.

          Let me guess, you watch MSDNC for your news.

      Lee
      • 3 Months Ago

      I worked for 23 years at a union shop, and 20 years at non union shops for a lot less money. I'd alot more preferred giving the 2 hours pay a month. The Publicans can all eat Chineese dirt.

        William
        • 3 Months Ago
        @Lee

        How about all the Democrats that are anti-union? 

      icemilkcoffee
      • 3 Months Ago

      To be consistent, he should give up his union pension too.

      .45 ACP
      • 4 Months Ago

      No person should be forced to join a union to work, and those who work where union laborers are should not be required to pay any "fair share penalty" like California State employees do...unions are now the job killers in America.

        Nick
        • 3 Months Ago
        @.45 ACP

        Nobody is forcing anyone to join a union to work.  You can always get a job somewhere else where there is not a union shop, that's your choice, and a good one for those people who don't want to pay union dues.  As soon as you learn it's a union shop, just turn and walk away and look somewhere else.

          holysmoke.s
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Nick

          You should like YOU think the UAW owns those workplaces, the UAW pays the salaries, the UAW pays the healthcare.


          LOL, poor misguided FOOL.  The only thing the UAW is doing is strong-arming monies out of the workers at that business.  The UAW is not doing anything for YOU.  The company you are working for is paying you.  If someone wants to work for Company X, and doesn't want to give money to the UAW "collective" that is their right, and for a thug like you to tell them...suck it, this company is polluted with the UAW and either join us or hit the streets punk.


          Well, that sums up the entire problem with the UAW.  You Nick are out of control, out of line, borderline criminal.

        Carpinions
        • 4 Months Ago
        @.45 ACP

        Barely more than 1 in 9 workers is unionized, which is about half what it was 30 years ago. Since the 1980s wages have remained largely stagnant or gone down. That has exactly zero to do with unions.

          BodyBlue
          • 3 Months Ago
          @Carpinions

          BUT the vast majority of public workers are Union.  It is a creeping cancer in our society.

      mskiba2
      • 3 Months Ago

      Work for minimum wage then MORONS !!!!!!

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