Brian Howard - NoUAW.com

The United Auto Workers have 576,000 members. Brian Howard has a friend named Marv.

The UAW collects almost $200 million a year in dues. Howard pays for his "NoUAW.com" Web site out of his own pocket.

The UAW has $1.2 billion in assets. Howard has a new home in Williamstown, Ky., and a 7-year-old car with 166,000 miles on it.

It's a Camry, of course, because that's what he builds at the Toyota plant in Georgetown, Ky., where UAW officials have been trying to wedge a foot in the door for 20 years. "The media tries to portray it like it's big, bad Toyota preventing the union," Howard said after he finished a shift painting cars last week. "No, it's people like me."

He's winning. So is Toyota. Last year it passed GM in sales for the first time. And Toyota wages have now passed UAW wages for the first time - $30 an hour to $27 (including bonuses).

"When I tell people where I work, they say, 'You guys have got it made,'" said Howard, a former tax examiner who been with Toyota 17 years. With bonuses and overtime, "Making $70,000 is very common," he said. "A lot make $90,000 to $100,000 a year."

Fewer than 20 percent would vote to join the UAW, he said. "Hard-core, dead-set against it, I'd say 40 percent or more."

"The UAW knows they do not have and will never have the votes to win an election," says Howard's co-worker Marvin Robbins. "So they want to take the rights of the workers away and not have an election."

Robbins and Howard have been mocked and threatened on the union's Web site. But they have raised money for a billboard and newspaper ad because a lot of what the UAW says "is just not true," Howard says.

"If we provide these (Toyota) team members with factual information, they will make the right decision," he said.

"The majority are sick of the harassment," Robbins said. "You would think the UAW would get the message after 20 years, but they are so desperate for membership they continue to show up where they are clearly not wanted or needed."

He's right about the shrinking union. With downsizing by U.S. automakers, UAW membership dropped 11 percent in 2005 and 3.4 percent in 2006. So the UAW is trying to recruit 7,000 workers in Georgetown, or trash Toyota to hurt sales, Howard says.

Union front groups such as Toyota Owners for Fairness and Jobs With Justice protest and hold "hearings" to hear only the pro-union side. At the Toyota Workers Rights Hearing in Georgetown last summer, four pro-union workers "drew considerable local media attention," according to the UAW.

But two had been fired by Toyota, one had quit, and the fourth could not back up her complaints. The panel was pro-union politicians and activists; several had taken contributions from the UAW, Howard pointed out in a newspaper ad purchased with local donations.

Unions don't have to send arm-twisters named "Knuckles" to rough up workers if they can use the media to rough up the reputation of non-union companies. They call it a "corporate campaign," and the attacks on Toyota look just like union attacks on Wal-Mart and Cintas of Cincinnati.

Howard says the press is sympathetic to unions. "They quote all these accusations by the UAW, and put in one generic comment by me. If they're giving them three paragraphs, I'd like three paragraphs too."

His NoUAW.com campaign is not encouraged or supported by Toyota, he said.

But Toyota is smart, too.

Attendance is linked to quality (remember the adage to never buy a car built on Monday or Friday?). So they throw an annual Perfect Attendance party for workers at Rupp Arena in Lexington, with Jay Leno, David Copperfield or the Beach Boys, and give away 14 new cars.

They have an on-site pharmacy, clinic, day-care and fitness club. Toyota's 6.3 percent injury rate is half the industry average for mostly UAW plants.

And Toyota managers meet monthly to listen to workers, who call each other "team members," not "shop rats."

The UAW has been unable to get even half of Toyota's Georgetown workers to sign cards in support. But the union could win anyway if Congress eliminates secret ballots.

The doublespeak "Employee Free Choice Act" introduced by Democrats would force companies to accept a union if 51 percent of workers sign cards in support. And it's too easy to bully workers into signing cards.

In a 2001 battle at a Nissan plant in Smyrna, Tenn., 70 percent of the workers signed cards for the UAW. But when they voted by secret ballot, the UAW lost by two to one.

Japanese automakers build factories in places like Georgetown, away from pro-union cities. A new $550 million Honda Civic factory in Greensburg, Ind., just west of Cincinnati, drew a hiring circle that intentionally excluded hundreds of unemployed UAW members.

The UAW played an important role in American history, bringing fairness and decent benefits to millions of families. But their Cadillac tail-fin contracts gave four flat tires to GM, Ford and Chrysler.

The cost of UAW benefits adds $1,500 to $2,300 to every union-built car.

"I definitely have concerns that quality would suffer if the UAW comes in," Howard said.

The UAW may have 576,000 members. But I think Henry Ford will drive a Camry before another 7,000 in Georgetown vote to join a union.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

no doubt you inbred hillbillies cant wait every week to rush to wal-mart, cash your check from the emporer then buy some of that high quality {ha,ha} chinese products. obviously since you hillbillies dont have more than a 6th grade education you need a history lesson. your employers & the other jap car makers were the ones that were not only in the military but made the planes, bullets, tanks, etc. that killed & maimed 10's of thousands of americans. so you traitors need to do us real americans a favor, have yourself a bowl of fishheads and rice and commit hari kari like a good little jap. and should you ever lose your job at toyota, rest assured you are managment material at wally world since you have

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