UAW Solidarity House | 8000 East Jefferson Avenue
Detroit, Michigan 48214 | p. (313) 926-5000
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Editor's note: The following resolution was adopted unanimously at the UAW Special Convention on Collective Bargaining in March 2011.
INTERNATIONAL CORPORATE CONDUCT
As they seek out new markets, lower costs and higher profits, corporate and financial interests have established operations that span the globe. As a union, we must think globally as well. Our continued ability to win contracts that improve the compensation and working conditions of our members can be strengthened by negotiating international standards of conduct that limit the ability of employers to pit workers in one country against workers in another. In the 20th century, by raising the standard of living of industrial workers, our union helped create the American middle class. In the 21st century, by working together with unions in other countries to raise the standard of living of workers in a globalized economy, we seek to create a global middle class.
The increasing internationalization of corporations has been accompanied by massive restructuring through mergers, takeovers and joint ventures. Much of this restructuring has come at the expense of workers and communities, with a shift from secure to insecure forms of employment, fragmentation of collective bargaining and abuse of human and workers’ rights. There is an urgent need to create strong international labor networks to foster more effective international solidarity among workers in multinational corporations and their supply chains.
To raise the standard for employers’ international conduct, we will use tools developed by international organizations and global unions. The Action Program 2009-2013 of the International Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) emphasizes the importance of building trade union networks in multinational companies, including the major global automakers. The purpose of this effort is to build effective solidarity and cooperation among affiliated unions that represent workers at specific companies. Through these networks, we can share information and work together to ensure an equal playing field for workers that raises standards internationally.
International unions have long cooperated and developed strategies to strengthen the solidarity among workers across sectors and companies. Nevertheless, better tools, a better exchange of information, and greater mutual trust and knowledge between workers are needed. Union networks are one of these tools. The UAW is actively engaged in the IMF networks covering global workers at Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, GM-Opel, Caterpillar, Hyundai-Kia and others. The leadership role the UAW is playing in these solidarity efforts has helped garner international support for our transnational organizing initiatives.
To advance our vision of a global middle class, we will:
NON-DISCRIMINATION AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY
The UAW has a proud history of activism in pursuit of equal opportunity and social justice for all Americans. Despite decades of advances in the fight against discrimination in the workplace and in the community, much more remains to be done to guarantee civil and human rights for all Americans. We still see attacks on policies meant to ensure equal treatment for people of color, women and the disabled. The fact that women still earn less than men, and that African Americans and Latinos still earn significantly less than whites, shows that the fight against discrimination has not yet been won. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals also face workplace discrimination and, too often, hateful attacks. Efforts by the right wing to stir up resentment toward immigrants are encouraging discrimination and contributing to a hostile work environment. These divide and conquer tactics threaten to depress pay and benefits for all workers.
Despite the efforts of some to turn back the clock, the UAW remains committed to the cause of helping our country fulfill its promise of equal justice, equal opportunity and mutual respect. Our future depends on finding new and more effective ways for our diverse people to live and work together in harmony. In keeping with our long history of commitment to civil and human rights, the UAW will continue to fight the evils of discrimination by:
Our history and our diverse membership demand that we continue to reject the ideas and tactics of those who seek to gain advantage by exploiting the tool of discrimination to divide the people of this country.
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. Whatever form it takes – verbal innuendo, repeated requests for dates, obscene gestures, unwanted touching – sexual harassment runs contrary to the basic union objectives of decent working conditions free of discrimination and inequality.
We must continue to demand that employers institute and enforce programs to eliminate this discriminatory behavior. Such programs should include:
Only by employing all of these means in our fight against sexual harassment will we succeed in its elimination. Our goal continues to be the complete eradication of sexual harassment from the workplace.
WORKERS WITH DISABILITIES
More than two decades after passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), too many of the millions of Americans with disabilities still face barriers and outright discrimination at the workplace. Through our collective bargaining agreements, we must build on the protections of the ADA to create a society where all Americans can contribute to their full abilities.
The ADA’s requirement that employers make “reasonable accommodation” to allow disabled employees to participate in the workforce on an equal basis exists side-by-side with their bargaining obligations under the National Labor Relations Act. In other words, the ADA does not justify an employer’s failure to bargain with its workers’ union over terms and conditions of employment. “Direct dealing” between an employer and a bargaining unit member about reasonable accommodations remains an unfair labor practice. Employers must negotiate with the union before changing terms and conditions of employment, even if an accommodation is required by the ADA. We are strongly committed to working with employers to meet the needs of our disabled members.
In the absence of a union voice, even the strongest legal guarantees and prohibitions on discrimination too often fail to eradicate the day-to-day problems created by embedded patterns of prejudice and discrimination. For that reason, it is important that we continue to make the treatment of disabled workers a priority at the bargaining table by:
V-CAP (VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTION FOR COMMUNITY ACTION PROGRAM) AND POLITICAL ACTION
The UAW has long understood that our ability to make progress for workers at the collective bargaining table is directly related to our ability to elect pro-worker candidates to public office. In the wake of the 2010 elections, that connection is clearer than ever. Republican governors and state legislatures have launched an all-out assault on workers and their unions by advancing legislation to repeal prevailing wage laws, institute right-to-work (for less), slash public employees’ compensation and deny them their right to collective bargaining. Their hostility is a tribute to our effectiveness. They want to destroy our movement because we stand in the way of a power grab by corporations and Wall Street banks.
The UAW Constitution says, “The precepts of democracy require that workers through their union participate meaningfully in making decisions affecting their welfare and that of the communities in which they live.” To realize this duty, the UAW provides all UAW members with opportunities to be directly involved in the legislative and political process at all levels of government. Working through the Community Action Program (CAP) structure and the GimmeFIVE program, we continue our efforts to educate UAW members and provide them with the tools they need to be effective lobbyists and political activists.
The election of President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress in 2008 broke the chokehold anti-worker Republicans maintained in Washington since 2000. The victories were the result of hard work and commitment by the UAW and many others, demonstrating the importance of political education and the power of collective action. Unfortunately, the 2010 midterms returned the U.S. House of Representatives to GOP control and narrowed the Democrats’ majority in the U.S. Senate. Since then, Republicans have tried to move a far-right agenda that favors corporations and wealthy individuals over workers and the middle class. While the country continues to suffer an unemployment crisis, Republican lawmakers are focused on repealing health care reform, reducing the deficit through draconian cuts to domestic programs and extending tax cuts for the wealthy while denying unemployment insurance to the millions of people who are unable to find jobs.
Along with our allies, the UAW continues to fight for positive, progressive measures. These include:
UAW V-CAP is an independent political committee created by the UAW and funded by voluntary contributions from our members. It does not ask for or accept authorization from any candidate, and no candidate is responsible for its activities. UAW V-CAP uses the money it receives to make political contributions and expenditures in connection with federal, state and local elections to advance the UAW’s political policies and agenda as established through our internal union processes.
Through V-CAP check-off, members may voluntarily make modest monthly contributions to help our union support issues and candidates who care about American workers, their jobs and the world they live in. V-CAP check-off continues to be a very successful way to raise voluntary dollars for our union’s political activities.
Now more than ever, UAW members recognize the importance of protecting our collective bargaining gains through political action. The U.S. Supreme Court’s January 2010 decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission has tilted the scales even further in corporate America’s favor. The high court held that independent groups can spend unlimited amounts of corporate and union money on election advertising. While corporations have historically outspent labor on elections, the impact of the Citizens United decision on the outcome of the 2010 midterms is staggering. In the 2008 election, independent spending on behalf of Republican candidates was 18 percent higher than it was for Democratic candidates. In 2010, after the Citizens United case, Republican supporters spent 111 percent more than labor and other Democratic supporters.
We will work to continue to strengthen our V-CAP program to counteract the growing political influence of corporations and wealthy individuals who disregard the needs of working men and women in pursuit of their own greed.
To further this goal and ensure that all UAW members may fully participate in the political process, the UAW will pursue the following objectives at the bargaining table: