Union front: PRB a way for members to resolve disputes
The UAW Public Review Board (PRB) was established in 1957 as an additional way to safeguard members’ rights and act as a watchdog over the union’s moral and ethical practices. The board, which is funded by the UAW, acts independently on internal appeals and its decisions are final.
The UAW is believed to be the only U.S. union that allows an independent board such authority. As the final decision-maker on internal appeals, those who wish to bring a case before the PRB must first try to have their dispute resolved where it started; if the dispute is with a local, the member’s appeal starts there. If with an international representative, the member appeals to the International Executive Board (IEB), which also hears appeals of unresolved local issues.
In most cases, if the IEB denies the appeal, the member may then request the PRB review the case.
The PRB has internationally recognized experts in a variety of fields such as labor-management relations and law and ethics. It meets in person on appeals and also via conference call on issues such as elections results, the proper withdrawal of grievances, or any other action by union officials or representatives.
Fifty-eight years after President Walter Reuther’s vision for a more democratic union, the PRB still holds true to the values of fairness and integrity, PRB Co-chair Janice R. Bellace told delegates at the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention. The board heard 64 appeals in the last four years, and in no instance has the union been found to have committed a serious ethical lapse, said Bellace, a professor of legal studies at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
The PRB’s website is uawpublicreviewboard.com. Single copies of the PRB’s annual report are available upon request to UAW members at no charge from the UAW Purchasing Department at 8000 E. Jefferson Ave., Detroit, MI 48214.