A scandal involving former and current leaders of the United Auto Workers is threatening to drown out the union’s demands in its ongoing strike against General Motors.
In its third day, the union is generating negative coverage, including media reports of protesting strikers illegally blocking vehicles attempting to enter and exit GM facilities.
Additionally, the UAW was charged with unfair labor practices Tuesday, claiming Local 652, headquartered in Jackson, violated the state’s Right to Work law and the National Labor Relations Act. At issue is Joseph Small, a GM employee passed over for a job due to alleged interference by union officials because Small declined to join the UAW and pay union dues.
According to the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a nonprofit organization representing Small, the UAW violated his rights under the NLRA, which protects employees who exercise their rights to decline union membership from discriminatory practices.
The NRWF also asserts the UAW violated Michigan’s RTW law, which prohibits mandatory union membership and dues paying as conditions for employment.
“UAW union officials continue to show a willingness to break the law, even violating the rights of the very workers they claim to represent,” NRWF President Mark Mix said in a statement. “Whether it be federal corruption prosecutions or unfair labor practice charges at the NLRB, UAW bosses must be held accountable when they break the law.”
About 49,000 UAW employees nationally are striking the automaker in what is the first system-wide walkout since 2007. The union is seeking concessions related to job security, health care, wages and pay received by new, temporary and contract employees.
Local news outlets report that UAW picket lines have been blocking traffic on main thoroughfares as well as deliveries at GM facilities in Swartz Creek, Burton and Flint. As of press time, no arrests have been made, but several protestors allege they’ve been injured by vehicles attempting to enter GM plants.
Numerous calls to Genesee County law enforcement agencies have been unreturned.
In the meantime, UAW leaders past and present are facing federal investigations and prosecution for misuse of union funds, wire fraud, embezzlement and other charges.
“Given the swirling federal corruption and embezzlement scandal now engulfing the highest levels of the UAW hierarchy, it is understandable that many rank-and-file GM employees may conclude that this strike is more about distracting from UAW boss misdeeds than what is actually best for rank-and-file workers,” Mix said in a statement.
“Individual workers must decide for themselves whether abandoning their jobs at the behest of UAW bosses is really what is best for them and their families, especially given recent reports that officials at the highest levels of the UAW hierarchy are in the crosshairs of the FBI.”