First They Came After Our Paycheck, Then Our House, and Now It’s Our Democracy


Labor unions are one of the purest expressions of democracy and freedom in this country. The recent passage of “Right to Work (for less)” in Michigan not only undermines our right to organize and bargain, but equally important it assails the fundamental principles of democracy.

At the workplace workers express “majority rule” through secret ballot democratic election during three distinct occasions:

First, workers choose by majority vote election (supervised by the Federal Government) whether to bargain with employers as a collective group (a union), or take their chances as an individual. Unions are certified as the legal bargaining agent ONLY AFTER THE MAJORITY OF EMPLOYEES CHOOSE TO ORGANIZE A UNION.

Second, workers choose who will bargain their wages, benefits, and working conditions in secret ballot elections. Representatives begin serving ONLY AFTER THE MAJORITY OF EMPLOYEES CHOOSE WHO THE REPRESENTATIVES ARE.

Third, workers ratify the contracts that are bargained by their chosen representatives by majority vote. OUR CONTRACTS ONLY TAKE EFFECT AFTER THE MAJORITY OF EMPLOYEES RATIFY THE WAGE, BENEFIT, AND WORKING CONDITIONS WE AGREE TO WORK UNDER.

After workers have participated in each step of the majority rule process, should we allow a few the opportunity to ignore the majority decision and withhold payment of their dues?  If that’s not an affront to the results of democracy, what is?

The passage of Right to Work is a direct attack on the most basic democratic principle of “majority rule”. As extreme as this may be, it’s just another assault on workers’ rights designed to give workers less say about how we live our lives — and the quality of life residents in a so-called “Right-to-Work” state can expect.

The next planned assault on working families will be legislation that limits our right to vote, and/or minimizes the impact of our vote. Laws are already being proposed to suppress our ability/access to vote, and to change the make-up of the Electoral College to ensure that working family supported candidates can’t serve.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! The leadership of UWUA is preparing to meet the challenge of the attacks on working families in a new, innovative, aggressive, and committed way. The first step of our strategy was implemented during two Michigan state-wide local union leadership meetings held January 30, 2013 in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan and January 31, 2013 at UWUA Local 223 in Dearborn, Michigan).

During these important and historic gatherings, National and Local leaders reviewed the details of the “Right to Work (for less)” strategy, as presented by UWUA General Counsel Sam McKnight and David Radtke. Following extensive and productive discussion on the impact of the law, our leadership group reviewed a bold, new communication approach between Leadership and our general membership.

The true source of our union’s power has always been our membership. It is the skill and ability of UWUA members that makes our energy infrastructure work. It’s also our members’ commitment to justice and our personal activism that makes politicians and employers listen to us.

It is our goal to develop communication structures within each UWUA Michigan local union that provides regular meaningful two-way discussion with each and every member. The process starts by developing a communication system that works. Our objective is to have regular conversation with each and every member of our union.

Our conversations will focus on:

  • Providing education and information to each and every member regarding important workplace, industry, or community issues;
  • Soliciting the views, opinions and suggestions from our members;


  • Asking our members to take personal action that supports stronger bargaining, resolving workplace grievances, addressing regulatory issues, and advancing an agenda for workers’ rights within our communities and nation.

The National UWUA believes in the power of our membership. This new communication strategy is designed to draw on that power and win justice for all UWUA members and our families.

As the process evolves, your leadership is committed to keeping you informed. As local leaders you are key to implementing this process.


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