Insights for the Labor Relations Professional


UAW Principles for a “Fair” Union Election

By Allen Kinzer

With card check recognition all but dead, the UAW is trying to take matters into its own hands in re-writing rules for union elections. A couple of months ago, UAW President Bob King stated the following during an auto industry speech about the “Free Choice Act” and his notions for principles for fair union elections:

While the UAW strongly supports the Employee Free Choice Act, we will not passively sit and wait for its passage. In our strongest historical traditions we will take direct action now in every way we can to protect all workers in exercising their First Amendment Rights.

The UAW does believe in the principle of the fair secret ballot election in which workers can decide freely whether or not to join the union.

Therefore, we are crafting a set of guidelines called the UAW Principles for Fair Union Elections. These principles are being adopted from guidelines developed by the Labor/Management Institute for Employee Choice.

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We will soon be unveiling these principles, and we will present them to the executives within the industry who are not currently unionized. We will ask them to sign on to these principles. If a company agrees to adopt the UAW Principles, and then abides by these principles, we will respect the decision of their workers whether they vote to join the union or not.

We have now seen the UAW’s Principles appearing in several UAW campaigns. The UAW’s Principles are as follows:

UAW Rules for Fair Campaign

In the spirit and traditions of American Democracy, the workers and the management of XYZ Company agree to respect the right of each worker to make a decision to vote in an atmosphere free from fear and intimidation. Toward that end, both parties agree to the following:

1.         Because the primary purpose of XYZ is to produce the best quality product, both the union and company pledge to remember that the primary purpose of this company is to produce the best quality product possible. 

2.         The election campaign will be free from fear, intimidation, harassment, discrimination, surveillance, interrogation and any other activity which interferes with free exercise of election rights.

3.         To further protect the company and its need for productivity, there will be no campaigning that interferes with work. No one will be taken off his or her job or away from his or her duties to discuss the campaign, either pro or con. 

4.         All meetings about the election – either individual or group – will be strictly voluntary. If the employer chooses to hold meetings on company time union supporters shall be granted a meeting of equal length to present the union’s position. Equal time, equal representation to match the employer’s presenters and/or guests.

5.         The union supporters shall be granted equal posting rights. This means that if the employer can post any material in opposition to employees having a voice, then the union supporters may post material of equal size and length.

6.         In the event an anti-union consultant is hired or continues to be retained by the company, the name of the consultant will be made public, and a full and public accounting will be made of all money paid or committed to the consultant (as provided by the U.S. Department of Labor). 

7.         None of the supervisors will be punished or discriminated against by refusing to campaign against the workers wanting to form their local union.

To our knowledge (but not to our surprise), no employer has agreed to these principles.   

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Insights for the Labor Relations Professional