Introducing the New Labor Movement

'Union Conservatives' enter the fray

For Terry Bowman, the decisive moment came when his union, UAW Local 898, ran an article in its newsletter arguing that Jesus would have supported Obamacare. The realization that his union dues were being used for politics — aggressive big-government politics at that — eventually led Bowman to create a new organization called "Union Conservatives."

The purpose behind Union Conservatives is to provide an outlet for workers throughout the state who support the basic idea of unions but are troubled by unaccountable union officials and the political orientation of the union establishment. As Bowman sees it, workers have been shortchanged by an outdated labor law that assumes constant antagonism between workers and employers. Union Conservatives also stands for the proposition that real labor solidarity can only be achieved when conservatives, who make up 40 percent of union members (or maybe even more?) are represented among union officials. What is needed are unions that are based in the reality of free markets in a democratic society, rather than leftist ideology.

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Terry Bowman's sharpest disagreement with the union establishment is probably over the value of right-to-work laws; Bowman sees voluntary unionism as an indispensible means of assuring that union officials remain accountable to the men and women they represent, explaining his thinking in a Detroit News Op-Ed.

The Union Conservatives group is just one more way that Michiganders are starting to rethink the role that organized labor plays in the state. The people of Michigan — union workers included — would benefit from a labor reform movement that is rooted in principles of individual freedom and self-government.