Why I’m Opting out of the Union

Below is a letter that was generated after 16 years as a member of the UAW.  I recently started paying attention to where and how the UAW spends the memberships’ dues and it has directly led me to remove myself as a member.  Until our contract expires on September of 2015 I will be forced to pay Agency Fees amounting to approximately 62% of what a normal dues paying member pays.  Right to Work has given me back the freedom to choose not to finance the ideology of the Democratic Party against my will.  Please feel free to share this letter with others who may feel the same.

To my UAW brothers and sisters,

As a man in the skilled trades, I have greatly benefited from all of the hard work, sacrifices and efforts of the founding UAW leaders and members. I make a good wage, work in a safe environment, have protection from unfair labor practices, carry comprehensive medical coverage, get several weeks paid vacation, paid holidays, and will be retiring with a pension. I thank the men and women of the UAW that went broke during sit-ins, died in strikes, and struggled through uncertain times to build a strong union. UAW workers have paid with their wages, safety and even their lives.

But how long are we members expected to pay for the successes of the past? I will pay $3,389 in dues during the current four-year contract and if the dues increase I will pay $4,234 for the next contract. I am not averse to paying dues but need to see a better stewardship of my money before I will agree to pay any more.

Times have changed but unfortunately the UAW has not changed with them. The UAW clings to strategies of the past that will not work in today’s world. They demand our loyalty and money, citing their glories of yesterday, while making no gains for us today and putting us in danger by depleting our strike fund. It is clear the UAW has no plan to rethink its strategy and will continue to spend money it doesn’t have on a tactic that repeatedly fails.

Here’s the UAW’s big plan: Unionize the south.

Here’s the flaw:
The southern non-union worker cannot see the benefit of joining the UAW when they look at our union of late:

• Two-tier pay
• No pension for new hires
• Pay freezes
• Theft of the “Strike Fund”
• Dues increasing
• Unaudited spending

Why would a southern man want to give his hard-earned money to an organization that has no control on its current spending and has made no gains for its current members?

I do not believe the UAW leadership has the willingness or ability to make the changes necessary to secure the union’s future. If they will not admit that they are accountable for many of the obstacles they face, then how will they ever overcome them? They blame “outside billionaires” for the failure to unionize the south, yet they refuse to admit the following is their responsibility:

• Public opinion for the union is at its lowest
• Current members are disenfranchised and have no connection to their leadership
• Southern Republican workers cannot relate to the northern Democratic UAW

I think of the saying, “A bird in hand is better than in two in the bush.” UAW leadership is so consumed with the drive in the south, that they have taken their eyes and ears off the members in the north. We have become checkbooks to their unfettered spending and planning. Until they treat their existing members with value, workers in the south will see no value in the union.

With great thought and regret, I have concluded that the only way I can truly support my union is to stop funding it. If I continue to feed the beast it will not stop until it has devoured all we’ve accomplished.

Todd Lemire
Local 600

About Sacred Grace

I’m an ordinary man who is trying to understand our extraordinary journey.
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13 Responses to Why I’m Opting out of the Union

  1. William Jefferson says:

    I totally agree with your assessment of these crooks. They are so un-democratic in their approach to the the very people who pay their overblown wages, that being the Membership.

    • Sacred Grace says:

      There is a great level of hypocrisy and inequality within the UAW William that I can no longer be associated with. Thanks for your comment.


    • Sacred Grace says:


      I received your second reply to Ralph. Sorry I couldn’t publish it as it was worded. No need for name-calling. We do our best to keep the conversations civil and respectful.

  2. Ralph Lyke says:

    Sisters and Brothers:

    UAW Brother Lemaire has not been active in his local union, by judging his reasons to get a free-ride on the backs of his Local 600 Sisters and Brothers:

    • It was the votes by our local union delegates to transfer our funds from our Strike Assistance Fund
    • There is an annual audit of our International Union funds
    • There are elected auditors (i.e., trustees) of Local 600, UAW
    • Our local union delegates will make the decision on our dues formula
    • He is making assumptions on the reasons that Volkswagen workers attempted to form their local union
    • Our UAW is not affiliated with any political party

    In closing, Brother Lemaire is honest that he benefited from being a UAW worker in good times, but has chosen to walk away from his local union Sisters and Brothers when our times are tough.

    In solidarity,

    Ralph Lyke

    • Sacred Grace says:


      I appreciate your opinion, however from the beginning you’ve made some very wrong assumptions. I have been very active in my local union, which is exactly what led me to take the actions I’ve taken and which will lead me to revoke my dues authorization at contract renewal in September of 2015. I was the registered Alternate Health and safety Rep. for my Tool & Die unit since 2007, I was an alternate Committee replacement for that same amount of time and served on the Executive Board as the Cutter Grind Rep for approximately the same duration. I attended local membership meetings, as well as spending a week at Black Lake going through their “indoctrination protocol” in the guise of a “family week”. I spent numerous hours training at Solidarity House as an in-house trainer for the Tool & Die Building and participated on the Election Committee at Local 600 early in my career. I spent numerous hours of my own time marching in the Labor Day parades as a part of the Local 600 unit, none of which I regret but all of which goes to show that your opening assumption of my inactivity is wrong which weakens your entire argument.

      I see that you are a union organizer and have a thought process like most of the democratic delegates elected by others who have political beliefs similar to yours. Yes the delegates, that will vote to raise our dues, are “groomed” to vote “along caucus/party lines”, yes the funds are audited, and yes those same groomed delegates will make a decision on our dues increase based on Bob King’s recommendations, and the UAW IS affiliated with the Democratic Party. Have you looked at the UAW’s political contributions lately? You cannot be that foolish to believe otherwise. Unlike you, I made no assumptions within the content of my letter, just stated facts. Strike Funds are spent on things other than a strike! With or without approval of the delegates it is wrong and I consider it theft!

      How tough are times for the upper union echelon? I invite you to read this post completely, including links http://wp.me/p2qHUc-13 and reconsider your statement.

      Again Ralph I appreciate your opinion, but I strongly disagree.

      Todd Lemire

      • Ralph Lyke says:

        Brother Lemire:

        (1) You have not produced any empirical evidence from the Board of Elections to show our UAW membership lists, and the voter registration lists, in order to compare the political affiliation of our active and retired UAW workers.
        (2) The transfer of funds from our Strike Assistance Fund was voted on, and passed, by our local union delegates at our 2010 Constitutional Convention.
        (3) Your local union members paid for your education at our UAW Black Lake; they made an investment in you to come back to your local and share your new knowledge
        For every action, there is a reaction:

        Since you have chosen to walk away from your local union Sisters and Brothers, you have given up your rights (1) To attend your local union membership meetings (2) Vote on CBA’s (3) Vote on strike authorization votes, and (3) vote on local union officers.

        In solidarity,

        Ralph Lyke

      • Sacred Grace says:


        I’m not talking about individual member political affiliations, I’m speaking about the political contributions to the democratic party that come from membership dues. Those members who belong to a party other than the democrats have no say in where their money goes. I see that you didn’t read my prior post which referred you to my previous letters which discuss these contributions.

        My local union members did not pay for my indoctrination at Black Lake, I paid for it with 15 years of my dues. I didn’t get my monies worth I can promise you that. It was a Republican bashing, democratic loving, preaching session for the entire week.

        You’re right I’ve walked away from a corrupt and hypocritical system rife with cronyism. I will do my best to convince others to give up those same rights when they come to me to complain about their dues increase and the lack of representation they are not getting for their dollar.

        Fighting for the freedom to choose where my money goes,

  3. Kathy Bedard says:

    Excellent articles. Many members feel the same as you Mr. Lemire.

    • Sacred Grace says:

      Thank you Kathy, I would like to see those that do feel as I do take some definitive action and make their voices heard. We would be heard at a greater level working with those who feel the same.


  4. Kathy Bedard says:

    Also, under Obama the rules for financial disclosure by unions has been relaxed.http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/09/obama_ditches_union_financial.html

  5. Hello Todd. I would urge you to look at the big picture. Writing this book required 4+ years. It isn’t an attempt at “join a union”. Read this book. http://curtb.webs.com/

    • Sacred Grace says:


      In turn I ask that you download and read this, the most recent National Right to Work Newsletter http://nrtwc.org/nl/nl201405.pdf

      In browsing your online creation it seems you feel that any domestic auto issues are caused by global imports and transplants, mainly from Japan and Germany, correct? And then you seem to throw what blame there is left on the Southern U.S., correct? Ok, I got through about the first half of the the first page and I have to say you’re very conspiracy minded and from what I read you believe that government approval is needed to build an auto manufacturing plant anywhere outside the great Northern U.S. (sarcasm). Sorry but I can’t read anymore.

      Well I did read a bit more and I have to address your mention of “Union Habits” as compared to workers of the South. First I must ask about your work history at GM, please inform me of the time you spent there, what you did, and have you ever worked anywhere in the South? I did, and I must say the work ethics of most people I’ve met in the skilled trades here in Michigan is an attitude of entitlement and rudeness. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not everyone, but a large percentage of them, and it’s usually those who have worked here in the great northern U.S. (sarcasm again) who display this lack of work ethic and entitlement that fits well with the “union” mentality. I’ve had those 40 year workers tell me, when I first started at Ford, “Slow down you’re killing the job, you’re working way too fast!” It’s all about money for the membership and do not fool yourself. As long as union members get that overtime, they do not care about anyone else.

      Here’s another article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal you should read titled, “Five Myths About Imports” and it is especially applicable to your philosophy.


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