Critical Decision: Wages, jobs and much more hang in the balance for UAW members

Everywhere you turn you’re reminded that it’s election season. Your Facebook and Twitter feeds are jammed with posts about it. Friends and family bring it up in conversations. Cable news talks about the candidates and their every move 24/7. When all the chatter, news reports and noise have run their course, we face the most important day, Election Day, Nov. 8. You’ll be in the voting booth alone, making a decision that will affect your life and the lives of those you care about for the next four years.

This election is about your future, the future of America’s working families, and the future of UAW members. As a UAW member, you know that exercising your right to be a union member can mean so much to providing a decent life for your family. You know that the right to collectively bargain and so much more is at stake when you make your choice in that voting booth Nov. 8. That’s why it’s critical to make an informed, reasoned choice for president, for Congress and for all the election races on your ballot. Our individual and collective futures are at stake when you choose.

Perhaps the most important choice you’ll make is who our next president will be. Here’s why:

We know that the presidential candidate who supports the needs of UAW members and America’s working families is the best candidate to vote for in November. That’s why the UAW endorses Hillary Clinton for president. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, helped frame the issues and has a great record. But the need to unite behind what is best for our members matters now.

Wally Kubicki, a veteran, fears Donald Trump’s tendency to react before he thinks could get young Americans in our armed services killed.

We need a leader who is focused on raising the incomes of hardworking Americans, restoring full, collective bargaining rights, protecting workers from exploitation, protecting retirement security, and strengthening the manufacturing industry by promoting fair trade and investment in manufacturing.

Many of Donald Trump’s product lines are made overseas with nonunion, cheap labor. And his temperament is a concern, one that could lead to decisions that cause economic stress and negatively impact members’ wages and job security. “Hillary Clinton supports American workers and working families,” said UAW retiree and veteran Wally Kubicki, former president of Local 2114 at Chicago CCA (Customer Care and After Sales). “Donald Trump would be bad for UAW members and for the country,” he said. “When it comes to trade, Trump will take care of Mr. Trump and his rich friends. He couldn’t care less about the little man, and if he doesn’t care about them now why would he care about them in the future?” he said. “Trump’s not a negotiator, he is just a reactor. Hillary Clinton will be able to sit down with people and get things worked out. My fear is Trump will get some of our young men and women killed because of the way he reacts instead of negotiating,” said Kubicki.

One party is already uniting behind Trump, who says he will push for lower wages for our members. Trump told the Detroit News that UAW jobs should be sent to states that are hostile to unions and have low-wage jobs, all to force UAW members to compete with low-wage jobs in Mexico.
Having a Democrat as president would mean more if she had a Congress that was willing to work for the benefit of all Americans. The Republicans’ refusal to work with President Obama hurt the country.

As president, Hillary Clinton will have the power to appoint Supreme Court justices, and we know how important their decisions are in our everyday lives, from reproductive and civil rights, from education to campaign financing, and so many other areas. U.S. Supreme Court justices often decide policy for the country on controversial issues. Despite the fact that the nation’s highest court has important responsibilities, the Republican congressional leadership has refused to allow the process to move forward to replace the seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. The high court is where the nation’s most important civil and voting rights disputes, labor and environmental rules and federal laws are finalized, and their decisions can either help or hurt working families and the power of wealthy, corporate interests.

Local 571’s Melvin Hicks, Jr., 50, says in addition to shaping the nation’s highest court, the president sets the tone for how America’s workers are treated. A Trump presidency would set an anti-worker tone. “Donald Trump is a business man. He’s not for workers,” said the nine-year employee at General Dynamics Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut, where he and his co-workers build submarines for the U.S. Navy. “We need a president who will help workers in a variety of ways, including improving trade agreements so workers are protected and keeping good-paying jobs here in the U.S.,” said Hicks.

We also want to lay the groundwork for a Democratic president to have a Democratic Congress to work with on passing legislation or blocking bad legislative proposals. They have power to affect our ability to collectively bargain, earn a good living for our families and have a decent retirement. Whom we elect for the Senate and House directly impacts our daily lives. We need to lay the groundwork for a Congress that is willing to work with a Democratic president to support the creation and retention of good-paying manufacturing jobs in the U.S. We all have a lot at stake. The 2016 elections will determine not only who controls the White House, but also the Senate and the House of Representatives. Congress has a tremendous amount of authority. Only Congress can pass laws, declare war, decide how our federal tax dollars are spent and who sits on the Supreme Court. Our congressional representatives affect how we retire, what our health care covers and our right to collectively bargain. They decide trade policies and whether they’ll be fair to workers, provide good-paying and not temporary, low-wage jobs. We can’t afford to ignore congressional races. We need to work hard to make sure all candidates reflect our UAW values of strong jobs at home, including manufacturing jobs that support workers who are falling behind and have to rely on public assistance just to make ends meet.

A Democratic president will face opposition in getting legislation passed without a supportive Congress. Voting Democratic for all races on the ballot is crucial to make sure we have both chambers of Congress controlled by labor-friendly politicians.

The UAW endorsement process

UAW member Joe Kanzleiter of Local 9 in Region 4 was one of the delegates participating at the Democratic National Convention.

We have heard from members who agree and disagree with our endorsement of Hillary Clinton for president. That engagement — even when we disagree — is healthy and an important part of the democracy of our union. “Senator Sanders helped frame the issues and has a great record. We thank him for that, and he is our friend. Now is the time to unite behind what is best for our members, matters,” said UAW President Dennis Williams. “That time is now,” he said. “Our UAW regions went through an extensive process of surveying our members. Each regional director listened to their membership and gave input into the campaign season,” said President Williams. When the UAW sent all candidates, including Donald Trump, a questionnaire to find out more about their stance on election issues, Trump didn’t respond.

Continued below

The next president will likely shape the Supreme Court for decades to come
Working people have an enormous stake in Supreme Court appointments. Our fundamental rights to fairness on the job and in the political system can hinge on a single vote. Every appointment to the Supreme Court is significant because justices are appointed for life. The composition of the court is one of the most important legacies of any presidency and can have a lasting impact on the way we live our daily lives, from our health care to collective bargaining rights. Several of the justices are at or nearing retirement age and the next president will likely nominate several Supreme Court nominees.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s nine justices often have the last word on controversial policy disputes. In early 2016, Justice Antonin Scalia passed away, leaving the court with only eight justices and deadlocked on many key matters. Since that time, Senate Republicans have refused to grant even a hearing to President Obama’s nominee, the Honorable Merrick Garland, vowing to leave the seat vacant until the next president is elected. No one disputes Garland’s qualifications and this level of obstruction by the Senate is unprecedented. As the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court is charged with determining the constitutionality of our laws and reviewing decisions made by lower courts. It is where the most serious civil and voting rights disputes, labor and employment rules, and federal laws go forfinal settlement. Decisions by the Supreme Court can expand our democracy and make it more inclusive — or they can harm working families and increase the power of wealthy corporate interests.

As the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court is charged with determining the constitutionality of our laws and reviewing decisions made by lower courts. It is where the most serious civil and voting rights disputes, labor and employment rules, and federal laws go for final settlement. Decisions by the Supreme Court can expand our democracy and make it more inclusive — or they can harm working families and increase the power of wealthy corporate interests.

Chief Justice John Roberts was nominated by President George W. Bush. Under his leadership, the U.S. Supreme Court has issued rulings that are deeply problematic for our country. For example, this court struck down the coverage formula used by Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This decision allowed nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval. By ending federal oversight of local voting practices, the court’s decision opened the door to a new wave of anti-democratic and racist practices. Specifically, voting ID laws have been shown to disproportionately disenfranchise young, minority, and poor voters. The court also struck down many of our campaign finance laws in the infamous Citizens United decision that allows the wealthy and corporations to spend an unprecedented amount of money in order to impact elections and the public discourse. The court also blocked President Obama’s executive order on immigration which was aimed at keeping working families together. As a result, millions of families will be broken up. The list goes on and on.

In early 2016, the Supreme Court heard the Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association case which could have devastated public sector workers across the country. The case challenged the right of a union to require some financial contribution, often referred to as agency fees, from teachers who are not members. The CTA rightly argued the fees are necessary for unions to cover the costs of conducting collective bargaining for non-members and are not connected to political activities in which the union participates. The court ruled on the case with a 4-4 ruling which keeps a lower court ruling in favor of the union in place — at least for now.

The presidential election will profoundly impact the Supreme Court and our future.

Trump’s actions as a business owner show he does not support the needs of working families.
Delegates from Michigan, including UAW members, helped make history when they nominated Hillary Clinton for president.

UAW members benefit when our president wants to raise incomes for hardworking Americans, and supports equal pay, paid family leave, earned sick days, fair schedules and quality, affordable child care for all workers. A president that supports workers by standing up for retirement security and good-paying manufacturing jobs, opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and aggressively combating trade violations is a president that is looking out for us. Our members need a president who is focused on creating tax incentives for our hardest-hit manufacturing communities and supports training for America’s workforce.

One party is already uniting behind Trump, who says he will push for lower wages for our members. Trump told the Detroit News that UAW jobs should be sent to states that are hostile to unions and have low-wage jobs, all to force UAW members to compete with low-wage jobs in Mexico.

“Donald Trump said in Detroit during the Michigan primary election that he would close Ford plants in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Kansas, and then tell workers if they want their jobs back to come back for less money,” said President Williams. That’s not a presidential candidate that is good for American workers. Williams said it’s important to take seriously what a presidential candidate says. “When candidates are seeking workers’ support, you really pay attention to what they say. What Trump said in Michigan caught our attention,” said President Williams.

“Trump said we should close plants here and move them to a low-wage state to compete with Mexico. Then, when workers want their jobs back, they will agree to work at a lower wage. I don’t know how that’s helping the middle class or helping American workers. It’s certainly not helping UAW members. That’s the wrong kind of leadership,” he said.

UAW President Dennis Williams tells delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia that it is important to have a president who supports labor.

“I have met people who work two jobs in order to make ends meet, working 60, 70, 80, 90 hours a week. I don’t want a president who has a good line. I want a president who has a line with the details. I want a president that will tell us what the details are. Trump has avoided the details. That concerns me,” said the UAW president. “This election is serious business, it’s not a game show. It’s not something that people ought to take lightly,” said Williams. Trump’s actions as a business owner show he does not support the needs of working families. He says he wants to “make America great again.” We think America is great and always has been. What does Trump mean? The answer is in Trump’s actions and public statements about those who helped make America the great country it still is — the UAW, working families and the middle class. What you’ll find doesn’t promise a bright future for UAW members. As a business owner, Trump doesn’t hire American workers to produce his products. He says outsourcing is good for business. His Donald J. Trump Collection shirts, as well as eyeglasses, perfume, cufflinks and suits, are made by workers in Bangladesh, China, Honduras and other low wage countries. Valeri Soto is recording secretary for UAW Local 186 in Denver, which represents 130 active members and over 75 retirees at Ford Denver HVC, Chrysler Parts Hourly and Salary, John Deere Parts, Del Jen (Peterson AFB), ABM and Caravan Knight. The 48-year-old Latina-Native American woman says Hillary Clinton has a proven record as a fighter and champion for working people and their families. “Her continued support for workers’ rights and economic opportunity lines up with UAW members’ priorities for the next administration,” said Soto. “Her long record of supporting workers’ rights stands in stark contrast to her Republican rivals, who seek to ban unions, silence workers, eliminate sensible regulations and give corporations total control over working conditions,” she said.

Local 1811’s Xantheia Carter: Clinton will work hard to help all Americans.

He has overworked, underpaid and threatened his workers and refuses to take responsibility for it. “We did nothing wrong,” Trump told The New York Times (June 14, 1998), on using undocumented Polish workers who, in addition to being underpaid and overworked, were threatened with deportation while working on a demolition project at the Trump Tower site. The workers often labored seven days a week for up to 18 hours a day. Their wages were $4 to $5 an hour, and were only paid sporadically. Sometimes, the workers were offered vodka instead of money for their work.

Trump was once asked about the wage gap between men and women. His response? “You’re going to make the same if you do as good of a job,” implying that women make about 79 cents for every dollar a man makes, doing the same job, because the quality of their work is inferior to men’s. Do you want a president who thinks the work done by your wives, sisters, daughters and mothers is lower quality than work done by men?

We believe Donald Trump when he says he wants to change America. As president, however, his kind of change would only ensure this would no longer be a great country, especially for workers.

Local 1811’s Xantheia Carter is a labor market client development representative for HealthPlus in Flint Township, Michigan. She says Hillary Clinton will work hard to help all Americans, not just the rich or white Americans. “She understands economic inequality and supports the American worker and the importance of gun control,” said Carter, 51. “She knows the criminal justice system is broken. And, most important, she is not Donald Trump.”

Continued below

Hillary Clinton on Trade Agreements

“Workers need…a president who knows how to compete and win for American workers.” Hillary Clinton 5/26/16

“I have said from the very beginning that we had to have a trade agreement that would create good American jobs, raise wages and advance our national security, and I still believe that is the high bar we have to meet.” (CNN 10/7/15)

On TPP: “In looking at (the final text of the TPP), it didn’t meet my standards. My standards for more new, good jobs for Americans, for raising wages for Americans. And I want to make sure that I can look into the eyes of any middle-class American and say, ‘This will help raise your wages.’” (Time Magazine, 10/7/15)

“(TPP) is the largest regional trade agreement in history, but…I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set for creating jobs and advancing national security. I am also worried about currency manipulation not being part of the agreement, and that pharmaceutical companies may have gotten more benefits from the deal than their patients.” (PBS, 10/7/15)

Trump’s words and actions when it comes to workers: Workers always lose

UAW members are workers who believe in collective bargaining rights. We know they’re the foundation of fair treatment in the workplace, good health care coverage for our families, job safety, retirement security and everything we negotiate as equals with management. Voting for Donald Trump for president in November is the same as voting against your own collective bargaining rights. Trump’s words and actions tell us that.

The Associated Press reported in June 1990 that he ignored standard business practices by using his casinos and hotels as his own personal piggy bank, gambling with the livelihoods of his workers. There are many examples of Trump using his businesses as a personal stockpile of ready cash, including a $26 million loan to himself to pay off personal debt. He paid himself millions while Trump Hotels failed to produce a profit, and many closed or had layoffs, hurting workers. They worked hard for him and that’s how he repaid their loyalty. What makes you think Donald Trump will treat workers any differently if he’s in the White House?

Trump’s actions also show he doesn’t support your right to collective bargaining. In 2014, his company aggressively fought his own workers trying to exercise the same collective bargaining rights you have. The Culinary Workers Union Local 226 filed charges against Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, alleging that hotel management retaliated against workers fighting to create a better workplace. Alleged incidents of retaliation include physical assault, verbal abuse, intimidation and threats by management. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) complaints are ongoing. In December 2015, hundreds of Trump International Hotel employees voted to form a union, and in March 2016, the Culinary and Bartenders Union were certified by the NLRB as the legal collective bargaining representative. Trump’s company has refused to honor the results of the election and negotiate a first contract with the workers.

Trump said publicly that he supports anti-union campaigns. When Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker went after collective bargaining rights of public union members in 2011, Trump said on The O’Reilly Factor, March 31, that Scott Walker’s anti-union policies were “right for his state.” On July 13, 2009, the New York Post reported Trump opposed the appointment of Richard Ravitch as lieutenant governor of New York because Ravitch would be “constantly giving” to the labor unions.

But he apparently likes unions if they benefit him personally. Trump is a union member. He belongs to SAG (Screen Actors Guild) as a producer and has a six-figure pension plan. He could likely have an AFTRA (American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) pension, as well, from his time as a host of “The Apprentice.”

He’s a union member while he wants to strip others of their union rights and outsource American jobs. His economic policies do not include a plan for growth, jobs or solving inequality. That’s not fair. A vote for Trump or for any candidate who doesn’t support the rights of workers is a vote against working families, your rights and your future. There’s so much at stake this fall. That’s why it’s important to vote for candidates who support your values as a worker.