Latest Solidarity Issue

UAW Principles for Fair Union Elections


Union releases guidelines to ensure workers have a right to choose representation


The UAW of the 21st century inhabits a global economy, therefore, the union must be fundamentally and radically different from the UAW of the 20th century. In the context of global competition, the only true path to job security is to produce the best quality products and services for the best value for consumers. In order to promote the success of our employers, the UAW is committed to innovation, flexibility, lean manufacturing, world best quality and continuous cost improvement. Through teamwork and creative problem solving, we are building relationships with employers based upon a foundation of respect, shared goals and a common mission. We are moving on a path that no longer presumes an adversarial work environment with strict work rules, narrow job classifications or complicated contract rules. The UAW seeks to add value as advocates for consumer safety, energy efficiency and green technologies.

Just as the UAW has embraced fundamental change, we call upon the business community to also change. They can demonstrate their openness to change by agreeing to the framework established in these principles. The current federal framework under the National Labor Relations Act does not protect the rights of workers to freely decide whether or not to join the UAW. Unlike a truly democratic election, there is vastly unequal access to the electorate. In many cases, employers use explicit and implicit threats of loss of jobs or benefits if workers support a union. Screening job applicants to weed out potential union supporters, mandatory anti-union meetings, firing of union supporters and threats to close the facility are tactics used to create a climate of fear. Community based business organizations employ explicit threats that would be illegal if they came directly from the employer. Employee attempts at redress are futile due to lengthy delays and lack of penalties. A free, democratic election cannot take place in a climate of fear.

The UAW invites employers to endorse these Principles for Fair Union Elections. If employers abide by these principles, we will respect the choice of the workers whether or not they choose to join the UAW.


The Principles

A fundamental human right
The right to organize a free trade union is a fundamental, human right recognized and respected in
a democracy.

No coercion, intimidation or threats
Employees must be free to exercise the right to join a union or refrain from joining a union in an atmosphere free of fear, coercion, intimidation or threats. There is no free choice if a worker is afraid of
losing a job or losing benefits as a result of his or her choice, or is intimidated into making a choice not of one’s own making.

No repercussions from management or the union
Management must clearly articulate that if workers choose to unionize, there will be no negative
repercussions from the company. The UAW must clearly articulate that if workers choose not to unionize, there will be no negative repercussions from the union. Both the company and the union will negotiate in good faith, and any failure to reach agreement will not be caused by bad faith negotiations.

No wage or benefit promises from management or the union
Management will clearly articulate that it does not promise increases in pay or benefits if workers choose not to unionize. The UAW will clearly articulate that it does not promise increases in pay or benefits if workers choose to unionize.

Equal access to the electorate
During the course of a union representational campaign, employees will have the opportunity to hear equally from both the union and management regarding this issue. There will be no mandatory meetings of employees on the issue of unionization unless the UAW is invited to participate in the meetings. Written and oral communications must be equal. The union must be granted the same ability as the employer to post campaign material.

Disavow any threats from community allies
Management will explicitly disavow, reject and discourage messages from corporate and community groups that send the message that a union would jeopardize jobs. Likewise, the UAW will explicitly disavow, reject and discourage messages from community groups that send the message that the company is not operating in a socially responsible way.

No disparaging the other party
Both the UAW and management should acknowledge that the other party is acting in good faith with good intentions. Negative and disparaging remarks about the union or the company are not appropriate and not conducive to a spirit of mutual respect and harmony, and will not be made by either party.

Immediate Resolution
Any disagreements between the UAW and management about the conduct of the organizing campaign, including allegations of discriminatory treatment or discipline relating to the union campaign, will be resolved immediately through an impartial, third party.

Secret ballot election
The democratic right of workers to freely and collectively choose if they want to form their UAW local
union is the workers’ First Amendment right. A secret ballot election incorporating these principles
is an acceptable method of determining union representation if principles two through six have been adhered to, and if there is no history of anti-union activities. The parties may select an alternative method on a case-by-case basis that reflects the best process for demonstrating employee wishes. If the parties cannot agree on specifics of the procedure, an arbitrator may decide.

If employees choose to unionize, the employer and union will engage in collective bargaining to achieve an agreement as soon as possible. The goal will be an agreement that takes into account the employer’s need to remain competitive; the dignity, respect, and value of every employee; the importance and value of full employee engagement and creative problem solving; and that provides a fair compensation system. The employer and the UAW commit to full information sharing and joint creative problem solving. The employees will vote on whether to accept the agreement. Disagreements
between the union and company will be discussed in a respectful manner. If no agreement is reached within six months of recognition, the parties may mutually agree to mediation and/or interest arbitration to resolve any outstanding issues.

Partnership in the mission of the employer
The UAW pledges that if the workers choose union representation, the union as an institution will be committed to the success of the employer and will encourage our members to engage in the employer’s successful achievement of its mission. The UAW and the employer will work together in fulfilling the mission of the employer. The UAW embraces a performance-based and participatory culture where the
union contributes to continual improvement of processes and shared responsibility for quality, innovation, flexibility and value.