UAW President Dennis Williams spoke to the media today about the membership, Tesla, trade and more.
Driver or No driver, Local 5960 Workers Build Quality
UAW members at Local 5960 in Lake Orion, Michigan, have been building quality vehicles for drivers for decades. Now they will build quality vehicles for cars without drivers.
General Motors announced in December that its Orion Township assembly plant will build test fleet Chevrolet Bolt EVs equipped with fully autonomous technology. The plant currently manufactures the electric Chevrolet Bolt EV and Sonic.
“GM’s selection of the Lake Orion plant restates its confidence in the ability of our Local 5960 members and their dedication to quality,” said UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, who directs the union’s General Motors Department. “It makes perfect sense to have the same workers who build quality Chevy Bolts for traditional drivers to make the autonomous versions.”
The Chevrolet Bolt EV won the prestigious North American International Auto Show’s Car of the Year Award in January.
The autonomous technology equipment includes Light Detection and Ranging (LI-DAR) technology, cameras, sensors and other hardware designed to ensure system safety. The test fleet vehicles will be used by GM engineers for continued testing and validation of GM’s autonomous technology already underway on public roads in San Francisco and Scottsdale, Arizona, as well as part of the Michigan testing fleet.
Since the beginning of 2016, GM has taken significant steps in its development of autonomous vehicle technology. The announcement to have our members build these special vehicles is another step in the right direction.
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Dear Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,
On behalf of the one million active and retired members of the International Union, UAW, I am writing to call on your government to immediately release all detained garment trade union leaders and worker activists, and drop all charges against them.
We are particularly outraged by the following actions:
– In December, 2016 the police called a meeting in Ashulia to discuss the strikes. They proceeded to arrest strike leaders who attended voluntarily. In filing charges against these detainees, they relied on section 16(2) of the 1974 Special Powers Act, which was repealed in 1991.
– Union offices in Ashulia have been forcibly shut down, ransacked and vandalized, sustaining substantial property damage and theft.
– Criminal cases have been filed against hundreds of named and unnamed workers.
– In Gazipur, police arrested union organizers, workers and at least one journalist. Some of those detained were beaten in custody.
Wages in Bangladesh’s garment industry are among the lowest in the world. It is unacceptable that the demand to increase the minimum wage is met with arbitrary detentions, suspended production at 59 factories, the firing of well over 1,600 workers and police cases against 600 workers and trade union leaders. Garment workers in Bangladesh have the unequivocal right to organize and must be paid a living wage on which they can survive.
Freedom of assembly is a well-established international legal right, binding on all states and protected by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Collective participation in peaceful assemblies to promote and defend the interests of members is an essential aspect of trade unionism and fundamental to the right of freedom of association.
Bangladesh is a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO), which has repeatedly declared that freedom of assembly, opinion and expression are essential to the normal exercise of trade union rights. The ILO’s Committee on the Freedom of Assembly has specifically found that sentencing trade unionists to long imprisonments for “disturbance of public order” can constitute repressive measures.
I urge the government to immediately and unconditionally release the detained trade union leaders and activists, and drop all related criminal cases.
Dennis Williams, President
International Union, UAW
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While we cannot predict the future, there is little doubt that 2017 will be a memorable year in Washington and across the country as newly elected leaders work to address the important issues facing our country. In our representative democracy, it is important to remember that politicians work for us. It is not only our right, but our responsibility to hold them accountable and have our voices heard. We call on them to take action to create better-paying jobs, reduce stark income inequality, strengthen workers’ rights, enact trade deals that put workers’ interests ahead of corporations looking to offshore our work, and ensure we have economic security in our golden years so we can retire with dignity. UAW members and retirees will be watching closely to see how everyone serving in office on our behalf, from President Trump to mayors and county commissioners, act to address the critical issues that impact our daily lives and future.
On Jan. 20 Donald J. Trump was sworn in to serve for four years as the 45th President of the United States. The 115th Congress will go into session with Republicans having control of the presidency and both the House of Representatives and the Senate. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, are planning on taking full advantage of the opportunity to send legislation to the president from the same party and look to hit the ground running with the goal of passing a sweeping right-wing agenda, much of which runs counter to our core beliefs. This article provides a preview on what to look out for in the first few months of 2017.
Congressional Republicans have promised to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA/Obamacare) by repealing and “replacing it.” They are intent on using special budgetary rules called “reconciliation” to eliminate all spending and taxes stemming from the law. Republicans are using reconciliation to prevent Democratic senators from blocking the bill by staging a filibuster (60 votes are needed to end a filibuster). Republicans will need only 51 votes to pass the bill by using specials rules and have 52 seats out of 100 seats in the Senate. Vice President Mike Pence can break a 50-50 tie if necessary, meaning Republicans can change the law without any support from Democrats. Congress cannot make policy changes (like changing health insurance reforms) through budget reconciliation procedures. This fact provides little comfort as the law will not be effective if people do not have resources to pay for care. Insurance pools will not work if people who can afford care are not penalized for only seeking medical assistance when they are sick.
The ACA would likely not be phased out immediately but rather over the course of a few years. Republicans argue the extra time will give them the ability to craft a viable alternative for the tens of millions who stand to lose care and benefits when the ACA is gutted. The problem is that providers and insurers will flee the market without any certainty. Worse yet, several of the ideas supported by Speaker Ryan and his conservative caucus are well known and provide cause for concern. Under his “Better Way” plan, our health care benefits would be taxed in many instances and money would be taken out of our paychecks. This would be a step backward, as UAW members have made many sacrifices at the bargaining table in exchange for comprehensive employer-sponsored health care. Congress must not erode those gains by subjecting this earned benefit to income tax.UAW members from Indiana, shown here meeting with U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, know how important it is to remain engaged in the political process.
Speaker Ryan’s plan relies on providing tax benefits for those who can afford to pay out of pocket and taking away some of the rules for insurance companies under the questionable premise that it would lead to more competition and lower costs for consumers. The math doesn’t work and per the Urban Institute, 30 million Americans are at risk of losing their health care coverage if the ACA is repealed. We could expect all our premiums to rise.
When more people are uninsured we all suffer, and pay tens of billions extra because the cost of care goes up when people do not get the preventative care they need and instead go to an emergency room when a medical crisis strikes. In 2010, before the ACA, almost 50 million Americans were without health insurance. At the end of 2015, the number of uninsured Americans reached an all-time low of 28.5 million.
Like any law, the ACA is by no means perfect but it has ensured that insurance companies cannot play games with people’s lives by putting annual and lifetime dollar limits in place that prevent people from getting care when they need it the most. The ACA has provided affordable access to OB/GYN services for women, pediatric care for children, and primary care physicians for many who could not afford to see a doctor in the past. Millions are getting preventive care that was previously unaffordable. The ACA also removed exclusions for pre-existing conditions and allowed parents to keep their children on their plan until age 26. These advances will be put in harm’s way if funding for the law is repealed.
That is not all, as Congress also plans to use special budget rules to convert Medicare into a voucher-like program, in which seniors would get a fixed sum of money with which to choose a health plan. Republican proposals have also supported raising the retirement age to 67, directly harming our members in VEBAs. If the retirement age for Medicare is raised people will stay in the VEBA longer and all recipients could be negatively impacted as resources are stretched. We all pay into Medicare with the promise that it will be there when we need it. Raising the retirement age and cutting benefits would be a betrayal by the people we elect to serve our interests.
Medicaid could also be slashed and turned into a block grant program that does not increase when demand goes up. Medicaid is often (and incorrectly) viewed as a program just for poor people. Medicaid assists two-thirds of America’s seniors with nursing home care. Also, Medicaid cuts are harmful to all state and local public employees as it is an important funding source that allows governments to spend their resources on public education and policing. Major cuts in Medicaid will lead to layoffs and cuts across all public programs at the state and local levels. Some localities will respond by raising property taxes and taking other detrimental actions like privatizing public resources.
We need a health care system that provides quality care for all and will demand nothing less.
The post Cover Story–Our Future, Our Jobs: We Must Hold Congress Accountable pt. 1 appeared first on UAW.
Columbia University graduate workers get set to head to their polling location to vote.
Graduate workers at Columbia University in New York celebrated a hard-won victory Dec. 9 when they voted 1,602 to 623 in favor of joining the UAW. With momentum from a landmark National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) ruling four months earlier that restored union rights of graduate teaching and research assistants nationwide, Columbia graduate workers voted to join the Graduate Workers of Columbia-United Auto Workers (GWC-UAW). They also garnered strong support from members of Congress, other public officials and community leaders in New York, and Columbia faculty and students.
“Thousands of RAs and TAs like me have won a voice to make sure Columbia University is the best place possible to learn and work,” said Addison Godel, a teaching assistant in the Architecture School at Columbia University. “This marks a major victory for the entire Columbia community.”
Olga Brudastova, a Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics Department research assistant at Columbia, says unionizing gives them the respect from the university they deserve. “We bring in nearly $1 billion each year in grants and contracts and teach courses from chemical engineering and applied physics to biology and religion, but for too long Ivory Tower administrators have been calling all the shots,” she said.
Support for the graduate workers union campaign came from public officials from New York and elsewhere, including Sen. Chuck Schumer, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Jerry Nadler, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Columbia faculty, other members of Congress and many more.
Columbia graduate workers have already won numerous improvements to parental leave, wage and child care polices but are still working on problems such as increasing teaching loads, late pay, unreliable health benefits and sexual harassment. Joining the UAW means they now have a voice on the job to protect these hard-won improvements and bargain for protections that will make their jobs and the university better.
“This is just the beginning of great things to come for the Columbia community and we’re proud to stand with graduate workers to bargain collectively for important improvements to pay and benefits that strengthen academic quality and student success,” said Julie Kushner, director of UAW Region 9A. “By standing together, Columbia graduate workers have paved the way for thousands of other research assistants and teaching assistants to have a recognized voice in America’s higher education and build the institutions that we need for a more fair, just and equitable country.”
“The UAW has a proud history of helping higher education employees win respect on the job and union rights at public and private universities from coast to coast,” said UAW President Dennis Williams. “More than 38,500 teaching assistants and research assistants have formed their unions with the UAW, cementing real improvements on the job and for their families. Today, we celebrate Columbia graduate workers as they embark on a new journey to build a brighter future at one of our nation’s most prestigious universities.”
The UAW represents more than 38,500 graduate workers at 48 campuses — more than any other U.S. union.
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February is Black History Month, and we’re taking a look back on the contributions of African-American leaders within the UAW like Nelson “Jack” Edwards.
Jack Edwards would eventually be called Walter Reuther’s “point man for civil rights.” The road to that designation was filled with dedication to civil rights and the UAW for many years. His achievements for workers are remembered because of the improvements he won at the negotiating table for foundry working conditions and safety equipment. He helped establish the UAW’s Independents, Parts and Suppliers Council, and later became the council’s director. From 1962 to 1970, he served as a UAW International Executive Board member at large, as UAW vice president from 1970 to 1974 and as the first African-American elected to the UAW International Executive Board. In 1963, he went to Birmingham, Alabama, at the request of Walter Reuther to help with the civil rights struggles there. In 1964, Edwards was elected vice president of the NAACP, and later co-founded the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.
Locally, he served in the Detroit Mayor Jerome Cavanagh administration as a member of the City Commission on Community Relations. In 1973, he was appointed to the Wayne County Stadium Authority. When he passed away in 1974, Coretta Scott King and Rosa Parks attended his funeral, and Detroit Mayor Coleman Young was one of the funeral’s speakers.
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The UAW and its Local 291 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, reached an agreement with AxleTech International. The parties failed to reach an agreement by the Jan. 29 contract expiration and UAW members have been on strike.
Local 291 members ratified the contract by an 88 percent vote ending their weeklong strike.
“We’d like to thank the many UAW members, members of the labor family, community friends and UAW retirees and family members for their support of AxleTech workers during the strike,” said Ron McInroy, director of UAW Region 4. “Support for UAW Local 291 members from the community helped achieve a fair contract for AxleTech workers and their families.”
UAW members have returned to work at AxleTech.
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President Dennis Williams speaks at White Shirt Day event at UAW Local 599 in Flint and draws parallels between what happened then and what is going on today. “When labor grows, our nation grows…. Stay focused. Be brave. More than anything, live in solidarity!”
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It’s been 80 years since the Flint Sit-Downers’ victory. The Flint Sit-Down Strike was called the strike heard around the world because it was more than a strike. It started a mass movement for change in this country.
What was at stake for them 80 years ago? Everything. The laws were stacked against them. They risked their lives to gain respect and dignity.
The success of the Flint Sit-Downers showed the country — and most importantly, it showed other workers that they deserved to have a seat at the bargaining table with the boss as EQUALS. There are many lessons to draw from the Flint Sit-Down Strike, but the biggest one is that worker solidarity is how we keep our seat at the bargaining table. It’s a lesson we should never take for granted or forget.
The UAW is a movement. Solidarity isn’t a slogan. It’s a way of life. If there was ever a time to channel the strength of the Flint Sit-Down Strikers’ character and their solidarity, it is now. We wear white shirts on Feb. 11, the anniversary of the day the strike ended, to send the message that we have the right to the same respect as those in management. But we don’t do it just for ourselves, we do it for all working men and women.
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Today is White Shirt Day, where we remember the Flint Sit-Down Strikers that paved the way for working people across the nation.
The post Witness to the 1936-37 Flint Sit Down Strike – Geraldine Blankinship appeared first on UAW.
Yesterday, in a Medium post, 4.5 year Tesla worker Jose Moran made the case that the company could do a better job at curbing preventable injury and listening to its workforce. He also said that he and other coworkers at the Tesla plant had reached out to the UAW for support in their efforts. In response, Tesla CEO Elon Musk fired back that he thought Moran’s public comments were “morally outrageous.”
Undeterred by the shocking reaction of his employer, Jose Moran put out a new video on Facebook today, highlighting that he wants to see a successful and profitable Tesla, but also wants to see the company live up to its promises and for workers at the plant to have a seat at the table in decisions that affect them. Check out his video above.
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“Mr. Moran is not and has not been paid by the UAW. We would hope that Tesla would apologize to their employee, Mr. Moran, for spreading fake news about him. We can confirm that Mr. Moran and others at Tesla have approached the UAW, and we welcome them with open arms.”
The post UAW CALLS TESLA ALLEGATION THAT WORKER JOSE MORAN IS ON UNION PAYROLL “FAKE NEWS” appeared first on UAW.