Statement in Support of the Proposed Merger of UAW Local 2232 into our Local 2322:
A majority of the Executive Board of Local 2322 and the entire staff of Local 2322 support the proposed merger of Local 2232 into our Local for these reasons:
Members of Local 2232 are struggling and need our help. It is consistent with our values of worker solidarity to extend our support and assistance to our fellow UAW members who are in need.
- This merger represents an extraordinary opportunity for our Local to grow and expand our presence in New England.
- Given the strong financial health of our Local, we can afford to merge Local 2232 into our Local; over time, Local 2322 will realize a net increase in revenue as a result of the merger.
- Our Local already has a geographically diverse membership and we are confident of our ability to integrate bargaining units located in New Hampshire & northeastern Massachusetts and to make this work.
In the spirit of democratic practice and dialogue, we would like to offer an alternative view of the proposed merger between our Local and Local 2232 in New Hampshire. We share a number of serious concerns about the fast pace and top-down nature of the merger, as well as its potential impact on our Local. These concerns include the following:
- Our union needs more time to assess the consequences that absorbing ten new out-of-state shops in a range of sectors will have on our ability to build a mobilized, active Local. The merger has been rushed and was largely discussed over a two-month period that coincided with a break in the academic calendar, meaning most of GEO– our largest shop by far– was out of town. There will also be no General Membership meeting to discuss the merger, largely because the Region says we have to make a decision by mid-February. This leaves the General Membership of UAW Local 2322 with two weeks, two letters, and a handful of informational sessions to make a decision that will fundamentally alter the shape and function of our union for years to come.
- We should fully understand other possible avenues for helping the fiscally insolvent Local survive before we fully commit to a merger.Region 9A representatives have represented the merger as a yes-or-no, all-or-nothing decision rather than one of many possible ways to solve the problems of the other Local, and have strongly implied that this decision should be all about solidarity. This rhetoric makes it difficult for us to come to a fully informed conclusion about whether the merger is the best path forward by preventing us from exploring and ruling out (or approving) other possible options. It could be that other Locals have more capacity to absorb a few of each of the 10 shops in the presently-insolvent Amalgamated. We feel that all parties involved need the opportunity to look at and weigh other options in order to determine whether this is the best choice for our future.
- The merger will make it more difficult for our Local to fully tackle some of our most pressing and ongoing difficulties. Specifically, we struggle with lack of communication and a general lack of understanding across our extremely diverse shops. We strive to be a mobilized, organizing union because we know that mobilization is the best way to strengthen our contracts and our labor movement. But this necessitates that all shops actively participate in the Local, and because our workplaces vary so widely in both geography and scheduling, we often find it challenging to ensure that all shops have equal chance to participate. It appears that these newly proposed 500 members in the other Local may also struggle with participation, as their local does not have a functioning Joint Council. We wonder whether we can commit the necessary time and energy needed to bring them fully into the life of this Local, given the geographic distance.
- Our own Local has yet to master distance communication and determine best practices for ensuring full and democratic participation with regard to the two out-of-state bargaining units we already represent. Rules governing the dissemination of union meeting minutes and agendas make it impossible for people calling or Skyping into a meeting to read and participate in the approval of previous meeting minutes, which precludes out-of-state shops from full participation in Executive Board and Joint Council meetings. The ability to read and vote on the approval of minutes is crucial to ensuring accurate meeting records and staying up-to-date on decisions and ongoing conversations.
- Building regional union density in particular sectors (namely health & human services and higher education) has long been a goal of our Local. This merger moves us away from that goal by spreading our union out into a much wider geographic area and range of job categories rather than strategically concentrating our resources in specific places and sectors.
In summation, we believe the expansion of UAW Local 2322 into new industries and new states should be a strategic, carefully-considered decision that involves significant self-reflection and procedural changes in order to ensure that our union is continually able to meet the needs of a much broader membership. All decisions we make as a Local should reflect a commitment to democracy and participation, and should actively help us to build a brighter future for our members and other workers in the industries we represent. We believe that rushing into a vote on absorbing another multi-industry amalgamated Local in another state without giving both Locals the chance to weigh all possible options and talk to each other has the potential for a range of consequences, some predictable and some unforeseen. For all of the above reasons, we are presently opposed to absorbing UAW Local 2232 from New Hampshire. We strongly encourage everyone reading this letter to consider this merger from multiple angles, attend info sessions, and talk to multiple other union members about it before casting a vote.
Eric Hoyt, Sergeant-at-Arms, UAW Local 2322 Executive Board
Enku Ide, GEO-UAW Grievance Coordinator
Luke Pretz, Trustee, UAW Local 2322 Executive Board
Anna Waltman, GEO-UAW Co-Chair & Joint Council Representative