Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Freedom coming for UAW-represented autoworkers in right-to-work states

By M.D. Kittle

MADISON, Wis. – Time’s almost up for the United Auto Workers’ free ride.

Auto industry contracts for 140,000 of the 400,000 UAW members were set to expire at 12:01 a.m. ET Tuesday.

That means autoworkers in Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin will soon be free to decide whether they want to opt out of union membership, and they no longer have to fear for their jobs should they exercise that right.

The three states over the course of the last four-year UAW contract with the Big Three automakers – Wisconsin most recently – implemented right-to-work laws, ending compulsory union membership and forced dues.

“After September 14, 2015, UAW workers in these new worker-freedom states enjoy the same rights as workers in other right-to-work states and may choose whether to financially support their union or not,” according to UAWOptOut, a website “dedicated to informing private sector UAW members about their rights.”

The website includes opt-out forms, testimonials, and a section on frequently asked questions.

As the site notes, “Collective bargaining is almost exactly the same in right-to-work states as it is in non-right-to-work states. Workers and the UAW can still bargain over wages, hours and working conditions with employers like GM, Chrysler, Ford, and parts suppliers. The only difference is that in right-to-work states a worker cannot be fired for refusing to financially support a union such as the UAW.”

In an advisory statement last month, the Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation said that once the UAW’s “monopoly bargaining contracts” with the automakers end, all autoworkers in the right-to-work states will have the right to resign union membership and will no longer have to pay “agency fees” to the union at any time, for any reason.

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