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May 20, 2024
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Local 652 Financial Secretary Matt Schneider
Updated On: Apr 25, 2024

March 2024

Similar to the makeup of the UAW as a whole, the Lansing area has a diverse UAW membership coming from an equally diverse field of sectors.  We have seen growth in many of those sectors, including higher education and gaming.  While the auto sector still plays an important role for our Union, it has not seen the same growth.  The good news is that there is potential.  The transplant auto manufacturers and their supply base are ready to be organized, and there is currently momentum building to do just that.  This momentum requires the support of all members, no matter the sector, and no matter the location.  Through casual observance of conversations, it appears we have a couple of talking points going around that could negatively affect solidarity.

Whether it be social media or member-to-member conversation I have noticed that some believe organizing more auto plants would be a negative because the International UAW would receive more dues dollars.  My initial reaction to this concern was confusion.  Of course we as a Union would have more dues dollars, as we have more members.  So why is this being met with cynicism?  I can only deduce that the actions of some past leadership within the UAW have caused lasting trust issues. 

I do have empathy for those who are still hurt by those actions, but those feelings stop at the idea of compromising the growth of the labor movement because of the poor behavior of a small group within our ranks.  Our focus should be on structural improvements to reduce corruption while also strengthening our institution for the future.  Corporations and special interests have us beat when it comes to the ability to spend for our interests.  We do have power in numbers, but unfortunately in this current environment, power in numbers and the power of the purse are both required.  Organizing worksites and growing this UAW should be one of the top priorities of all members.  Being active and staying vigilant will produce leaders and processes that lessen the opportunity for poor behavior as it relates to this new growth.

There is also growing cynicism related to the technology of our auto sectors.  Through various media types and by members of the political process, how America’s cars are motivated is becoming a wedge issue.  Due to their distracting and damaging nature, you’ve seen me write many times about sensational or wedge issues .  While I will not discount any members' concern about the world around them, wedge issues tend to be little more than distracting fluff.

Gasoline internal combustion engines are dominant in the automotive industry and will continue in the near future.  This fact does not mean we shouldn’t innovate, or that change isn’t necessary to protect our prosperity and quality of life.  If we use General Motors as an example, none of the technologies causing division in our ranks is new.  GM has spent decades working to make ICE vehicles more efficient and more reliable.  The same is true with EVs, with Lansing having been a player in that goal with local production of the EV1.  Hydrogen is trending as the new savior, but again, that technology isn’t new.  Starting with the 1966 Electrovan and continuing with the HydroGen series, GM and others have been working to perfect this technology.  Whether it’s ICE, electric, hydrogen, or something else, our members in the auto sector should be excited to be part of American ingenuity. 

All modes of transportation have factual pros and cons.  The next best technology will shake out, it always has.  Political and special interest agendas are trying to arm us against progress with hyped-up wedge issues.  Our job as unionists is to ensure we are part of the workforce in whatever is next.  A workforce that is a cut above the rest, and one that is protected by a quality collective bargaining agreement.





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