1832 Houldieson v. UAW Local Union 551
Case No: 1832
Article 37, §4(a) of the International Constitution requires that each UAW local union “hold a regular general membership meeting at least once a month.” The Democratic Practices section of the Ethical Practices Codes (EPC) provides that “[m]embership meetings shall be held regularly, with proper notice of time and place and shall be conducted in an atmosphere of fairness.” The membership of a Local Union acts and makes decisions through motions adopted at membership meetings. Such meetings form an essential part of the democratic structure of the UAW.
Without doubt, the PRB agrees with the International Union’s decision to suspend in-person membership meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic in accordance with federal guidelines and state law prohibitions. Despite the importance of union meetings, the conduct of such meetings cannot endanger the health of the membership and the greater community. Nevertheless, the Board is called upon in this case to address the specific circumstances surrounding Local 551’s decision to reject Appellant’s request to conduct online meetings. On the record in this case, the Board must conclude that the Local Executive Board did not thoroughly investigate or consider the possibility of online meetings. The Local Executive Board now claims that its primary rationale for rejecting online meetings was concern for privacy. The PRB does not believe that its concern is well-founded in this case since measures can be taken to ensure that only members can attend online meetings. Accordingly, within 30 days of the date of this decision, the Local should conduct a general membership meeting via an online platform (unless restrictions on in-person meetings are lifted within that timeframe).