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June 3, 2014

Day Two of the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention Report
By UAW Region 8 Webmaster John Davis

Day two of the 36th Constitutional Convention began at 9:00 AM on Tuesday June 3, 2014. The first speaker of the day was Heather McGhee President of Demos.  Demos is a public policy organization working for an America where we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy.

Next speaker was Mary Kay Henry, the President of SEIU. “Workers across this country are working and fighting for a living wage,” President Henry stated. “We at the SEIU stand with the UAW in fighting for a living wage. Too many workers in this country work hard every day and worry about having enough money to put gas in their vehicle until the next pay day. If you work you shouldn’t live in poverty. We have to find a way to help all workers bargaining collectively. Raising the minimum wage is the beginning of fight we want to wage with you as together we build the next American middle class. The consumers are the real job creators in this country. When workers are paid a living wage, they buy groceries, the buy clothes and they do it in our communities. They are the real job creators not Mitt Romney or the corporate powers. I am completely convinced now is the time to make this fight. We stand on the shoulders of a generation before us that fought the fight to create the middle class and now is our time to continue it. Our shared history and the courage of today’s workers give me hope. We are a nation of immigrants and we need to include everyone in our economy.  When we stand together we cannot fail. After all we are a nation of dreamers and we have to keep it that way.”

Retiring U.S. Congressman John Dingle was honored with a resolution thanking him for his service to working Americans. Dingle has been elected 29 times to Congress. “On the wall in my office hangs my honorary and permanent memberships in the UAW,” Representative Dingle said. “It hangs there so when business people visit my office they know I stand with American workers. You are the great guardians of the middle class and America’s workers. My father was a union member and I am proud to have grown up in a union household. It is the work of good people such as you that protect the middle class and it is because of these efforts God will bless America.”

Today’s agenda includes amendments to the UAW Constitution. The UAW is ruled by a constitution much like the United States. Changes to this constitution is voted on by delegates the members elect and send to this convention, much in the same way you elect representative to send to Washington to pass laws for you. These resolutions and amendments have been submitted from members across the country and deal with a number of items that impact the direction and scope of the International Union.

One of the proposed revisions to the UAW Constitution concerns dues. Today delegates are discussing a revision to
Article 16 Section 2 (a) – For those members who work in either private sector or public sector with a legal right to strike, the minimum monthly dues will be an amount equivalent to: (i) 2.5 hours or straight time pay for members working full time paid on an hourly basis, or (ii) 1.44% of gross straight time monthly for members paid on a salaried basis and for members employed part-time and paid on an hourly basis.

Section 5. Dues income collected under Section 2 of this Article will be allocated between the Local Union, the International Union General Fund and the International Union Strike and Defense Fund as follows:

(a) For the first two hours (or 1.15%) of dues income collected from members under Section 2(a) of this Article of first 1.4 hours (or 0.805%) of dues income collected from members under Section 2(b) of this Article: (i) the Local Union shall receive 38%; (ii) the International Union General Fund shall receive 32%; and (iii) the International Union Strike and Defense Fund shall receive 30%.

(b) The remaining one half (0.5) hours of dues income (or .29%) shall be allocated entirely to the International Union Strike and Defense Fund.

This constitutional amendment is to raise dues for the first time since 1967. The amendment proposes to raise union dues by 30 minutes pay a month. This increase will go directly toward the strike fund. With national contract talks looming in 2015 for many UAW industries, a healthy strike fund is needed to adequately bargain for our members next year. For the first time in three contracts, the Detroit three are in financial shape to address some issues including two tier wage scale. Without a healthy strike fund, these issues cannot be addressed.

The debate circled the convention floor with two speakers from each region being given the opportunity to speak for and against the proposed dues increase. After a spirited debate on the floor, the question was called and the convention floor voted first by a voice vote and then by a show of hands. Each vote was overwhelmingly in favor of the change to Article 16. Essentially what this means is active members in public sectors will see a dues increase of thirty minutes per month. Where they have been paying two hours a month, it will now increase to two and a half hours per month. If you make $20 an hour and have been paying $40 a month in dues will see an increase of $10 per month, with all of that increase being earmarked for the Strike and Defense Fund.

The day ended with resolutions regarding how business is done at the local and International level. Things such as electronic distribution of Solidarity magazine was discussed as a cost savings. The last item of the day was an amendment to raise volunteer retiree dues to $3 a month from $2. All retiree dues are voluntary so no retiree will be required to pay more. Those who wish to pay more will have the opportunity to increase their monthly dues by $1.


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