UAW President Pledges New Day, But Key Union Democracy Provisions Defeated – University of Michigan to Strike

Shawn Fain speaking at his first bargaining convention as UAW President (AP)

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UAW President Pledges New Day, But Key Union Democracy Provisions Defeated 

On Sunday, Shawn Fain took over as UAW President, becoming the first challenger to defeat an incumbent in the 80-year history of the UAW. On Monday, he ’preceded over the union’s bargaining convention as the UAW prepares for negotiations with the Big Three this fall. 

“It’s a new day in the UAW,” Fain declared. “Our union is moving from rights on paper to rights in action”. 

While Fain ran on pledges of union democracy, several key union democracy measures were defeated at the bargaining convention. Fain was quick to point out that the failed effort showed the challenges ahead to implementing union democracy reforms within the union. 

The Detroit Free Press has the story: 

Numerous delegates, supporting a push by the dissident caucus Unite All Workers for Democracy, sought to change the threshold to close debate on convention questions from about 33 delegates to one-third of the delegates, a move pitched as one that would bolster democracy by preventing a minority of delegates from stopping debate. That effort was defeated.

Another effort, pushed by the dissidents, focused on expanding cost-of-living adjustments but also failed.

During a meeting with journalists after the convention adjourned for the day, Fain reiterated many of the points he’d made from earlier.

He called it a great day and said the debate and decisions by the delegates reflected an open process.

However, he also said the divisions on display and what appeared to be a pushback against reform efforts also reflected the effects of 70 years of an entrenched pro-administration caucus. Fain said some of what was decided in the convention hall was not indicative of the membership based on what he’s seen in meeting with rank-and-file members during his campaign.

“Our membership’s fed up. They’re fed up with the status quo,” he said.

For more, check out Detroit Free Press. 

University of Michigan Graduate Employees to Strike 

For the second time in 3 years, 750 graduate employees at the University of Michigan are going on strike. The union is calling for the minimum salary of workers to be raised to $38,000 a year. 

The University of Michigan claims that the strike is illegal and that they intend to take legal action if its carried out. However, with the cost-of-living rising in Ann Arbor, graduate employees say that they have little choice, but to strike. 

“The University of Michigan, they are responsible for this strike,” graduate employee Sovoya Davis told the Michigan Daily. “If they are willing to take bargaining seriously, and offer counter-proposals that actually show some movement, then I’m sure that the Union will do all that they can to be amenable to that. You know, nobody wants to strike, we care about our students a lot, so it really just depends on the University of Michigan.”

For more, check out the Michigan Daily. 

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About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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