It only seems appropriate to start the December edition of the Lansing Labor News by wishing you all a Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year. Regardless of your Local, your unit, or your worksite, the members of Lansing’s UAW Family are some of the most diverse.
The giving nature of working people is no more apparent than in the results of our annual charitable events. Here at Local 652, we just wrapped up our Making Strides for Breast Cancer and Toys for Tots drives with Old Newsboys on deck. Through layoffs, part shortages, and strikes, our members still came together for the less fortunate and raised over $11,000 for these great causes. That dollar amount doesn’t even include the donations of toys. The Recreation Committee challenged the members with a pillow and bedding collection for Lansing area foster kids, and the members understood the assignment by overflowing the collection bins. The Local also collected personal hygiene items for striking members and adopted a striking family for Thanksgiving.
While we have a lot to be thankful for in the Lansing labor community, we have some challenges as well. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but election season is upon us and working people need to be laser-focused. The divisiveness, false information, punditry, and team sports politics appear to be worse than ever. It’s never easy getting large and diverse groups on one page, but these stressors are complicating the process even more.
It’s no secret that members of our Union vote for candidates and proposals that are not those recommended by UAW-CAP or UAW leadership. Regardless of these decisions being made purposefully or unwittingly, it is an issue. Candidates who have a track record, or commit to supporting working families and better work rules make contracts stronger. They also help remove many of the landmines our bargainers face protecting members from management. Myself included, sometimes working folks are really good at shooting ourselves in the foot. For instance, let us consider this hypothetical situation. A vast majority of our members voted for Proposal 12, which has purposely been named, “The Working People Act”. Inside this act is a provision that prevents Unions from grieving management over violating overtime provisions. As a consequence, management feels empowered and the committee calls for overtime violations triples. With a state law now superseding contractual language, bargaining is exponentially more difficult. As is the norm lately, we as members then turn to social media to vent our frustration with the “worthless Union”. It is a vicious and damaging cycle.
Unfortunately, I don't have the perfect solution to this problem, but I do offer some advice. When I present Union Awareness classes to new hires, I give them a challenge. As a UAW member, you will be asked to consider voting for candidates and positions recommended by the labor movement. There is a possibility that these do not align with your current picks. I challenge you to take the time and make a thoughtful decision. Do you vote for your picks, which may be based on sensationalism, ideology, or personal opinion, or do you choose based on what is best for your pocketbook, health and safety, and contract strength?