The United Auto Workers (UAW) union and its President Bob King are once again targeting Nissan employees in Canton to join their union, a union that has lost 75 percent of its membership since 1980. Headquartered in the bankrupt city of Detroit, home to bankrupt and bailed-out General Motors and Chrysler Corporation, the UAW sees unionizing the thriving and productive auto companies like Nissan as its salvation. The UAW says it wants only to help Nissan workers but you first have to join the UAW and authorize it to be your “exclusive bargaining representative” under federal labor law if you want their help. What does that mean?

First, let’s unpack the term “exclusive bargaining representative.” The emphasis is on the word “exclusive.” Once a union is installed as the employees’ exclusive bargaining representative, the workers themselves can no longer talk to their own managers to resolve day to day work place issues. Nissan would be forbidden to discuss and resolve issues, grievances, or any other matters with a single employee or even a large group of employees. “Exclusive” truly means exclusive in the federal labor law context – Nissan employees would lose all right to deal directly with their employer, and vice versa. Only the UAW could speak for you.

Second, consider the UAW’s real interest in Nissan and Canton. The UAW is desperate for more dues paying members. Having lost hundreds of thousands of members and dues payers since 1980, the UAW faces a future of continued retrenchment, with lower salaries and fewer perks for its officers, and more layoffs of its staff. This is where you come in. The UAW needs you and your dues money to shore up its declining financial position.

Third, the UAW wants to become your monopoly bargaining representative, but does not want to give you the opportunity to vote for it in private in a secret-ballot election. Rather the union is now running an aggressive worldwide “corporate campaign” against Nissan to force it to hand Canton employees over, without even a secret-ballot vote. Although the UAW says it wants what it calls a “fairness” agreement, it actually is demanding that Nissan give union organizers your home addresses and personal information so those agents can come to your home to try to convince you to sign a union card.

Investigate and study these issues before you sign a UAW card. Research why the UAW’s membership has dropped significantly. Ask yourself why automotive manufacturing employees are working union free. Ask yourself why more and more the UAW is so anxious to have you sign “authorization” cards that it wants to count as your one and only “vote” on these important issues, while working to avoid a secret-ballot election in your workplace.

Get the facts BEFORE you sign your name to a UAW card or give your phone number or personal information to a UAW organizer.

In summary, you have the following rights:

(1) You have a legal right to refrain from signing a union authorization card. Whether you wish to sign a union authorization card is completely up to you. It is unlawful for an employer or a union to threaten or coerce any employee to sign a union authorization card, or to misrepresent the card’s purpose.

(2) You have a legal right to revoke any union authorization card that you have signed. It is illegal for a union to restrict your right to revoke a union authorization card.

You may revoke any union authorization card you have signed by simply signing a letter, card, petition, or other document stating that you do not support the UAW, or that you support another union. That letter, card, or petition should be sent to both your employer and the union whose card you signed. Using certified mail, return receipt requested, will give you proof of delivery.

(3) You have a legal right to sign and circulate cards or petitions against union representation. You have the legal right to campaign against union representation if you choose, provided that it is done on non-work time (such as during work breaks) and in non-work locations (such as in break or lunch rooms). An employer cannot discriminate against employees based on their support or opposition to union representation, if done on non-work time in non-work areas.

If you oppose union representation, signing and circulating such a petition against unionization is perhaps the most important thing that you can do to exercise your legal right to refrain from union representation. Click here to see a Sample Petition.

For over four decades, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation has worked in the courts to expand and protect the rights of individual employees to choose to refrain from union representation and membership. It is the nation’s premier organization exclusively dedicated to providing free legal assistance to employee victims of forced unionism abuse. The Foundation takes no position about how you should exercise your right to join a union or refrain from joining a union. The Foundation simply wants all employees to be able to make this choice in an atmosphere free of restraint, threats, and coercion.

If you want to learn more about your legal rights, go to the Foundation’s “Know Your Rights” page or contact a National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney toll free at 1-800-336-3600, or via email or by clicking here.