On June 26, 2020, National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix published a letter directed to US Attorney Matthew Schneider urging him to consider several pro-worker reforms for the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.
The UAW has been recently plagued by corruption scandals, one of them forcing former president Gary Jones to step down. Mix released this letter right before the announcement of a meeting with Schneider and the new UAW President Rory Gamble on June 30.
At the meeting, the two discussed the union’s future following an extensive federal probe of the union’s leadership’s widespread corruption.
The investigation discovered the embezzlement of millions of dollars in worker funds by leading UAW officials such as former president Gary Jones. So far, the investigation has resulted in the convictions of at least 14 people, which includes at least 11 people connected to the UAW. Federal law enforcement law officials have discussed the potential of a federal takeover of the union. Other reports indicated that Gamble is facing increased scrutiny as well.
In the letter, Mix called attention to the coercive privileges that federal law granted to the UAW. Due to these privileges, an environment has emerged where UAW officials can exploit workers by federal law created an environment where UAW officials could all too easily take advantage of workers, writing:
“UAW union officials have perpetrated this abuse using the extraordinary powers granted to them by federal law — primarily their dual coercive powers of monopoly exclusive representation and authorization to cut deals mandating that rank-and-file workers pay union dues or fees, or else be fired…”
The letter calls on reforms to “squarely address” the control that union officials exert over regular workers. Mix suggested that federal agents should “impose an immediate recertification vote for every union local touched by the corruption,” “empower workers as individuals to fight corruption through refusing to fund the UAW,” and “impose an independent auditor tasked with providing full transparency to rank-and-file workers of all union financial transactions.” These reforms, Mix maintained, should be “part of a federal takeover of the union, or at least…required of the union to avoid a federal takeover.”
Mix concluded by noting that “this is far from the first time unaccountable union officials have been caught funding their limousine lifestyles with…funds that were supposed to serve workers’ interests.” Mix suggested that Schneider “try some new ideas” that put emphasis on empowering the workers “whose trust and money has been systematically stolen.”
All of these developments came during a time when the UAW endorsed Joe Biden for president. Biden has declared, that if he’s elected, he will make a concerted effort to repeal all Right to Work laws in the country. America has 27 Right to Work states where workers no longer have to pay mandatory union dues as a condition of employment.
“The revelations of greed and shamelessness that continue to arise in the UAW probe are no surprise to anyone who is familiar with the coercive privileges granted union bosses by federal law,” remarked National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Though we urge Mr. Schneider to push the reforms detailed in our letter which will put the power to hold union officials accountable in workers’ hands, there is ultimately no place in federal law for provisions that force workers to pay union bosses or accept their so-called ‘representation’ to keep or get a job.”