Greetings to you and your family. I hope this edition of The Lansing Labor News finds you well.
This fall has been extremely busy for all. Thank you to all who took the time to participate in the Michigan midterm elections. If you voted, worked the polls, were involved with your local CAP committee, or volunteered, thank you!
For the first time in forty years, the Democrats will control the House, Senate, and Governorship! What does that mean? We should be able to right all the wrongs that have been forced upon us all. Here are just a few things we should do immediately:
• Restore collective bargaining rights
• Fix our payroll deduction issues for dues collection and V-CAP deductions
• Repeal the Retiree Tax
• Repeal Right to Work
Ten years ago, the Snyder group, in the dark of late night, rammed Right to Work through the legislature. He said it wasn’t on his radar, but he signed it anyway. It is time these free loaders pay their fair share of union dues and stop getting a free ride on the backs of our UAW members and thumbing their noses at all the hard work and dedication of our retired workers.
Another “gift” given to our retirees, both current and future, by the Snyder Administration: The retiree pension tax. Remember, this tax went directly from our retirees’ pockets into the pockets (tax breaks) of corporations and big businesses, NOT to improve one single road, bridge, or infrastructure in Michigan.
We have done the work to elect our legislators and now it is the time to put pressure on them to do the right thing for our retired workers. REPEAL THE RETIREE PENSION TAX!
Here are some of the current retiree numbers across our Region:
Region 1D has 84,919 retirees. 48,453 of them are currently paying retiree dues, 2,586 are paying above $3.00. That is about 57% of our retired workers paying dues. Congratulations to our Region’s retirees, as you are #1 in the country, far above the national average of retirees paying dues. Thank you!
For those who have their healthcare covered by the Retiree Medical Benefit Trust (RMBT), there are currently approximately 600,000 retirees in the Trust. Only 59,000 active employees remain eligible to join the RMBT upon their retirement. The Trust remains very healthy and will continue to provide great healthcare coverage. RMBT is in the process of sending out cards explaining the change to Optum Rx for mail-order prescriptions.
I have had many phone calls and questions regarding rumors and statements made pertaining to our retirees and the Big 3 national agreements in 2023. I will attempt to clear some of these up.
First and foremost, all past and present bargaining groups, from the international leaders to the elected top negotiation committees, have attempted to bargain improvements for our retirees. I will attempt to somewhat explain, realizing that there is a lot of history, legal documents, and information on the ability to bargain on behalf of retirees.
Section 8(d) of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) provides that the parties must meet and bargain over wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has interpreted that and defined the subjects of bargaining as follows:
The subjects of bargaining are defined as:
• Mandatory Subjects – These are subjects that directly impact wages, hours, and working conditions. This list is extremely lengthy and contains the subjects which the parties must bargain over if a proposal is made by either party. Some examples are rates of pay, overtime, subcontracting and pension benefits for active employees.
• Permissive Subjects – These are subjects that are not directly related to the work. They fall outside of the mandatory subjects. This list can be infinitely long. The parties may agree to bargain over these subjects, but are not required to by law, and can refuse to discuss them without fear of an unfair labor practice charge. It is also a violation to strike over a permissive subject of bargaining. Some examples are neutrality agreements, designation of a party’s bargaining representative, use of union label/flag, and pension benefits for already retired members.
As I stated above, national bargaining teams always want to make improvements for our retirees. The fact is, however, for the last couple of decades, corporations have taken the position that retirees are no longer considered employees, as they do not perform work for the company and have signed retirement papers severing their employment with said company. These companies make it clear that they are not willing to discuss benefits for retirees.
I commit to you, I will do everything in my power to push for improvements for retirees, but keep in mind, the law is not on our side. If someone is trying to convince you otherwise, please feel free to call me and we can discuss and go over the legal documents.
In closing, I would like to thank all who took the time to vote in the election of our UAW International Officers and those who have re-elected me as your Regional Director. I am blessed and proud to represent you. We have more work to do!
Our Region has approximately 130,000 eligible retirees and members who can vote, yet we had just over 13,000, about 10%, vote. We can do better. There will be a runoff for our UAW President and one Vice President spot starting January 12, 2023. More information will follow.
If you did not receive your ballot for the election, please contact your local union so they can correct your information for the January 12 mailing.
We are UAW Region 1D proud and we need to show that with a strong turnout in this important election!
In solidarity, Steve