Frequently Asked Questions
What does UAW stand for?Good question. After all, you have to stand for something, or you'll fall for anything. But we'll get back to that -- what you probably want to know is what the initials stand for. It started out as the "United Auto Workers," but today we might as well just say, "Union for All Workers," because our membership includes people who make everything from planes to toy trains as well as state, county and local government workers, hospital and university workers, you name it. We also have plans to unite with two other major unions.
Which gets back to the first answer. The UAW stands for justice for working people. It sounds corny, but our success or failure will always be judged on how well we succeed at bettering the lives of workers. We have no other reason to exist.
Sounds nice, but companies claim to be good for workers too.Many company officials try to treat workers decently, but that's not why they're in business. The bottom line for a company is profits. Why do stocks go up like clockwork when companies announce big layoffs? Because the "financial markets" assume that the fewer workers there are, the more quick money companies will make. That puts tremendous pressure on your boss to put pressure on you -- whether it's fair or not.
What if you join a union, get a good contract, and the company goes out of business?The UAW doesn't bargain contracts that put companies out of business. Our contracts guarantee that workers share in the good times and that any sacrifices made in hard times are fair. For example, UAW auto contracts give workers excellent pay and benefits. At the same time, the major auto companies have been making record profits. On the other hand, when the auto companies were in trouble, the UAW helped them survive. We voted to postpone raises and some benefits, and we lobbied for the loan guarantees that saved Chrysler from bankruptcy -- without costing taxpayers a penny. At the same time, we insisted on job and income guarantees and transfer and recall rights to protect workers.
I just want to do the best job I can. Wouldn't a union interfere with that?Wait a minute. Don't you sometimes feel that you're the only person who cares how good a job you do -- and that the people in charge just want to get as much work out of you as quickly as they can? They're under pressure to show fast profits, after all, even when it hurts the company's long-term competitiveness. The UAW can negotiate things that help you do your job well -- like adequate equipment and training. Our contracts often give workers input on quality, safety and other matters. And a union contract guarantees you the right to speak out when things aren't right.
That's fine for private workers, but what if you work for the state or county?Proposed cutbacks would leave public workers with ever-bigger workloads -- along with wage freezes and benefit cutbacks. With union protections, those workers can stand up and insist that workloads and treatment be fair, and that the public interest is protected. And they can work together to keep public work from being "privatized" -- contracted out to powerful companies that often scrimp on quality and worker pay and benefits to boost their profits.
But aren't the UAW and other unions getting smaller?The union movement is growing in sectors where the jobs are growing. But cutbacks and international competition are taking their toll on all workers. For the first time in modern American history, the typical worker has been left behind by the productivity he or she helped create. This is at a time when the stock market keeps hitting new records and companies are making huge profits.The UAW and other unions are trying to make the rules of competition more fair, and to make governments and companies responsive to taxpayers and workers. And we're doing more to reach out to all workers. Because if more of us belonged to unions, we'd have the clout to turn things around -- for all workers.
Where I work, it's everyone for themselves. Can the UAW change that?Does the phrase "divide and conquer" ring a bell? It's a tactic as old as dirt, and just as filthy. We're all supposed to be competing with each other for every little crumb. We hear lip service about "teamwork" -- but it takes a union to make real teamwork happen. With a union you can get together with co-workers and decide what's fair for everyone; then you go to the company and say that's what we want. All of us. It sure beats sitting there wondering who will get the ax next, and whether someone's trying to gain a little advantage at your expense.
How can I find out more about the UAW?Send your questions to: U.A.W. Local 387
If you'd like to talk to someone about organizing at your workplace, call 1-800-2getUAW (1-800-243-8829). You'll be connected to (or get a call-back from) a UAW organizer who can answer questions and tell you what it takes to organize a union at your workplace.
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Official Site Developed & Maintained By Gary Bostick, UAW Local #387 Network Administrator & Retiree Member.
Revised: Thursday, 26-Jan-2012 8:06 PM EDT