President Trump, Here’s How You Can Support Union Members

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Terry Bowman Ford-UAW autoworker for over 20 years
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President Trump, I am one of the millions of working Americans who voted for you — and still support you to this day.

In many ways, I am the prototypical Trump voter. As a 21-year Ford autoworker in Michigan, I have spent my life working the line and assembling the cars you see on the road today. I put my faith in you to drain a Washington swamp that has grown unresponsive to working men and women like me. And I’m not alone: My home state of Michigan delivered you nearly 2.3 million votes, swinging the 2016 election. Nationwide, you amassed almost 63 million votes –many of them from union members frustrated with the status quo. You received 43 percent of the union vote — a high mark for a Republican — by addressing the rank and file’s frustration with not only career politicians, but also union officials who fail to represent us.

President Trump, the situation in union America is untenable, and worthy of your attention. As a Michigan autoworker, I have been forced to accept the representation of the United Auto Workers (UAW) for my entire career. Even after Michigan became a right-to-work state in 2012, workers are still pressured to accept the UAW’s representation — and the baggage that comes with it.

Much of our frustration with the status quo can be traced to outdated federal labor laws, which protect union officials at the expense of their dues-paying members. Under current labor law, nearly 40 percent of union certifications bypass secret ballot elections in favor of publicly staged card checks, leaving employees vulnerable to well-documented union intimidation. Instead of submitting a private vote — like we all do when voting for president — many union members are denied that fundamental right.

Moreover, union officials are not required to face scheduled re-certification votes, leaving many of them grandfathered into the workplace by a previous workforce. Less than 10 percent of union members ever voted for the labor union currently “representing” them, while their “representatives” are not subjected to a re-election.

It only gets worse. Under current labor law, union officials spend hundreds of millions of dues dollars on political advocacy — without first securing their dues-paying members’ affirmative consent. Since 2010, union officials have taken more than $1 billion from member dues without prior approval for donations to liberal advocacy groups, including the Clinton Foundation, Planned Parenthood, and hundreds of others. Roughly 99 percent of union advocacy donations end up with liberal groups, even though more than 40 percent of union household members vote Republican in any given election cycle.

So how do we change the status quo? Fortunately, the solution has already been drafted, and it’s being debated in Congress as we speak. On Thursday, I testified before the House Education and Workforce Committee in support of the Employee Rights Act (ERA). Co-sponsored by 180 senators and representatives, the ERA’s eight pro-employee provisions would substantially update federal labor law for the first time in over 70 years.

Without infringing on the right to unionize or bargain collectively, the ERA would do more for workplace democracy than any list of reforms that have been discussed in the last 50 years.

Protecting employee rights is common sense, and it’s wildly popular to boot. The ERA’s key reforms are supported by 80 percent of Americans, including Democrats, Republicans, independents, union and non-union employees.

On behalf of working America, I urge Congress to act on this mandate and pass the ERA. And I urge President Trump to sign it into law, showing once again why workers like me continue to believe in him.

Terry Bowman, a 21-year Ford-UAW autoworker, lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.