The UAW may consider voter identification laws suppressive, but it sees nothing wrong with making it a requirement for those seeking to stop paying union dues.
Dearborn-based UAW Local 600 told a member seeking to withdraw from the union that it would only process the request if he showed up in person.
"It is the policy of UAW Local 600 that any member wanting to sign off of their membership dues, needs to do so in person with the financial secretary and must show proper identification," the letter says.
Local 600 Financial Secretary Mark DePaoli confirmed that he sent the letter dated Sept.18. He told the Washington Free Beacon that the union adopted the procedure after Michigan became a right to work state in 2013. The union requires members to bring a copy of their driver’s license if they wish to terminate dues.
"Anyone could send in a letter with someone’s name on it," DePaoli said. "Someone coming in physically, showing proper ID guarantees there are no mix ups. We don’t want someone being delinquent on dues or benefits" because of impersonation.
The Dearborn union’s policy is at odds with the national UAW’s stance on voter identification laws. The union considers voter identification laws a form of "voter suppression." The UAW website lists "Strengthening voting rights for all Americans, opposing outrageous voter ID laws," as one of its key concerns alongside mostly labor issues.
Labor watchdogs are wary of the union’s attempt to force detractors to come into headquarters to withdraw from the union. Fred Wzsolek, spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute, said that the point of right to work laws is to help workers escape union interference and leaves them susceptible to intimidation. He said the UAW is especially guilty of pressuring non-union members.
"Demanding that for a union member to exercise their right to leave the union they have to have an in-person meeting is outrageous, and just as outrageous are these so-called ‘Scab Lists’ the UAW publish so that non-members can be coerced and intimidated on the job," he told the Free Beacon.
DePaoli said that the in-person meeting is "in no way shape or form" meant to exercise undue influence on workers. He has sent out the letter a few times to those inquiring about leaving the union, but has received no follow up complaints.
"At the time they come in we don’t intend to challenge their decision. They won’t go through any scrutiny," he said.
Local 600, which represents more than 24,000 auto workers and transportation professionals, has not had to deal with that many dissidents, according to DePaoli.
"Not many people have chosen [to stop dues]," he said. "Our members value their representation and our services."