Tennessee is a right-to-work state. Bargaining unit members in Tennessee do not have to join a union or pay any union dues/fees as a condition of employment—meaning employees cannot be discharged for failing to join the union or pay union dues/fees.
If Volkswagen is unionized, would I have to join the UAW?
No. Since Tennessee is a right-to-work state, a team member covered by a UAW contract does not need to join and pay dues/fees to the UAW.
Would all team members be represented by the UAW, even if they are not a dues paying member?
Yes, whether or not a team member joins the UAW and pays dues, all team members in the bargaining unit would be represented by the UAW and would be covered and bound by the terms and conditions of the UAW contract.
If the UAW is voted in and I choose not to pay dues, would I still be required to follow any contract the union is able to negotiate?
Yes. If the UAW is voted it, legally it has the right to speak for and represent every team member in the designated bargaining unit – even team members who do not join the union. All team members, including you, would be subject to any terms and conditions of employment the union negotiates with the Company. Volkswagen cannot provide you with different wages or benefits, schedules or other conditions of employment even if the contract does not suit your individual circumstances
If the UAW is voted into our facility and I decide not to join, can I ask Volkswagen to pay me different wages or benefits, provide me with different scheduling, or otherwise treat me individually in ways that are different than what is contained in the union contract?
No. You would have to follow all the provisions of the union contract whether or not they suited your individual circumstances.
So if the UAW represents me and I am covered by the contract, do I get to vote on what’s in the contract?
No. Under the UAW International Constitution, a team member who does not agree to pay dues cannot vote to approve, reject, or strike over the proposed collective bargaining agreement. In order to vote on the proposed contract, the UAW International Constitution requires that a team member be a “member” of the UAW. In order to be a “member” of the UAW, an employee must either (a) pay dues or (b) sign a dues check-off card authorizing future deduction of union dues.
OK, so I don’t have to join the UAW or pay dues even if they are elected, but what does it mean for my day-to-day life at Volkswagen?
Currently, team members at Volkswagen are able to engage in a direct, collaborative dialogue with their supervisors and management. By law, this open, direct dialogue would probably end if the UAW was elected representative of the team members because federal law prohibits a company from directly dealing with an employee regarding changes to wages, hours, or other terms and conditions of employment. Instead, all dialogue related to a team member’s terms and conditions of employment would require UAW involvement.
Does that mean I would lose the right to speak for myself?
Yes. If the UAW is voted in, legally it has the right to speak for and represent every team member in the facility—even team members who do not join the union.
If a team member chooses not to join the union or pay union dues can the union keep asking me to join and pay dues?
Yes. Nothing in the “right to work” law prohibits a union from continually trying to get a team member to change his/her mind about joining the union or paying dues. There is nothing that prohibits a union or co-workers from using peer-pressure, letters, emails, phone calls, and even home visits to try to convince you to join and pay dues.
If I join the UAW and start paying dues, can I resign from the union and stop paying dues and fees any time I want?
The union may try to limit or place conditions on how and when a team member can resign or rescind an authorization to pay dues. Typically, in order to stop paying dues, an employee must first resign from the union. Then, the employee is required to notify the company and union during a very specific, short period of time that the employee wants to cease paying union dues. For example, under the GM-UAW Master Agreement, employees are required to sign a dues check-off authorization that requires employees to pay dues for the shorter of: (1) one year or (2) the length of any successive collective bargaining agreement (which are typically longer than one year). The only way to cancel an employee’s dues authorization is to provide written notice to the company and the UAW not more than 20 days and not less than 10 days prior to the expiration of the period (the one year or the contract). If an employee does not cancel his or her dues check-off within the 10 days, the employee must pay dues for another year, until the next 10 day cancellation period.
Press Coverage on UAW Dues Collection in Right-to-Work States
- The UAW’s New Scab List (Chattanoogan)
- Worker Says UAW Harassed Him Over Right-to-Work Beliefs (Detroit News)
- UAW Unit Publishes Names of Workers Opting Out of Union (Detroit News)
- UAW Circulates ‘Scab’ List in Kohler Strike (Detroit News)
- Law Enforcement Must Protect Workers Against UAW’s ‘Scab Lists’ and Other Forms of Workplace Bullying (Fox News)