Hi, UAW. I’m Ben Dictor, an attorney with Eisner, Dictor and Lamadrid and counsel to your union in these negotiations.
As you know, thousands of UAW members at the Big Three are holding strong on the picket line and your national negotiators are hard at work at the bargaining table. But for those of you working under an expired agreement, there’s a lot you can do to help win this fight. Here’s how you can Stand Up on the job.
Working under an expired agreement gives the union important leverage at the negotiating table. If you haven’t been called yet to Stand Up and strike, you still have a vitally important role to play in our fight for a just contract.
The members who are remaining on the job are continuing our fight on the shop floor by helping the union identify attempts by the Big Three to make changes in your working conditions without bargaining. This is called enforcing the status quo. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) requires employers to bargain with the union representing their employees over any changes to their terms and conditions of employment. Because this legal obligation is so broad and covers so many things that go on in the workplace, employers often bargain for rights in a contract that permit them to make certain changes without bargaining with the union. This is usually found in a management’s rights clause but can be found in various places throughout a collective bargaining agreement, when dealing with specific subjects. But the management’s rights clause expired on September 14th.
When the Big Three decided to let the contract expire instead of reaching a fair deal, they lose their right to make changes to your terms and conditions of employment. Now, if the Big Three want to make changes, they have to give the UAW advance notice and an opportunity to bargain. They cannot require the union to bargain over any proposed changes on a one-off or piecemeal basis. That means the union can insist that any changes to your terms and conditions of employment are only made as part of a complete agreement.
Part of the Stand Up Strike is letting the company know that the UAW will not allow any unilateral changes to take place except as part of a new collective bargaining agreement. If management makes any changes in the workplace without bargaining, that could be a violation of federal law and the union will take immediate action.
While the union is asking you to be ready to stand up and strike when called upon, it is important that you stand up on the job and fight back against unlawful changes you see in the workplace. You are the union’s eyes and ears in your facility. We are asking you to be on alert for any changes that the company may be making now that the contract has expired.
Be on the lookout for changes to things such as scheduling, hours, job assignments, and overtime, along with any changes the company might be making in anticipation of further strike action.
In recent days, we’ve received reports that the company made changes before the contract expired in anticipation of widespread strikes. Your strike strategy is keeping them on their toes and they’re beginning to feel the consequences of letting the contract expire. While the company might have had the right to make changes while the contract was in effect, any new changes would likely be a violation of federal law. So the company might be stuck with the decisions they made and conditions they created before the deadline.
Enforcing the status quo is a powerful tool that the union can use to incentivize the company to get back to the table and bargain for a contract. The parts of the contract that the company benefits from have expired, but enforcing the status quo only works with your help. The union needs to take quick action when it discovers that a change in the status quo terms has happened or is about to happen.
If management changes your schedule, hours, job assignments, overtime, including in anticipation of further strike action, we want to know about it. The UAW has set up a website where you can fill out a simple form for members to report anything they believe might be a violation of the status quo. You can find it at uaw.org/standup.
When the union receives your report, the union’s legal team will review it and may contact you for additional information. If the union believes that the company has made or is about to make an unlawful change in the status quo, the union will notify the company immediately and demand that they cease and desist. If the company refuses, the UAW can file charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Stand Up on the job to win a historic victory at the Big Three.
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