US: Ford employee dissatisfied with UAW dues spurs right-to-work debate image

Todd Lemire, a tool-and-die maker with 16 years experience, has moved to file a complaint against his employer – Ford – and the UAW because of certain aspects of his union dues.

The charges were brought before the National Labor Relations Board last week and the National Right to Work Foundation now legally advises him. The case is very interesting, sparking an ongoing debate about parts of the UAW dues that can go towards fund-raising for political activities.

While all three Detroit automakers usually deal with the UAW for all plant workers, Michigan’s Republican legislators passed right-to-work laws late in 2012, allowing workers to shed union representation. According to the current UAW- Detroit three contract, the union can automatically deduct from the workers pay the dues – including the ones used for political purposes. Lemire targeted them specifically in his complaint.

“No worker should be forced to jump over hurdles to exercise their right to refrain from union affiliation,” said Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “This case underscores just how important Michigan’s Right to Work law is for workers.”

The automatic deduction of dues ends on September 15, 2015, when the UAW contract with the US automakers expires. After that workers can opt out of paying union dues altogether in Michigan, shedding union representation.