I received the sad news this evening from the midwest that Jerry Tucker, a lifelong progressive and democratic union activist and UAW leader, passed away.
Jerry and I began to work together five years ago when he joined with other UAW activists to oppose the imposition of another wave of cutbacks in wages and benefits of auto workers at the Big Three.
Like Jerry I began to speak out about the attempt to set up a VEBA that would force the UAW to manage a massively underfunded and badly structured health care plan and relieving the Big Three of that responsibility, a benefit fought and won by auto workers over many decades. Eventually I filed a petition with the SEC on behalf of auto workers arguing that the UAW and GM were ignoring their obligation under federal law to provide full disclosure of the impact of the proposed VEBA on union members.
Just as we argued then, the VEBA has indeed proved a disastrous turn for the UAW as a recent Reuters story noted. If the union and GM had disclosed the actual risks that it implied it may never have been imposed. As he was many times before Jerry was right then, too.
Below is a video of a tribute to Jerry at a Labor Notes conference. In addition, take note that there will be a panel discussion of the State of the UAW at UM-Flint on October 28 with Dr. Tom Adams and Gregg Shotwell. Gregg was one of my clients in the petition to the SEC. It would honor Jerry’s memory and lifelong efforts on behalf of the UAW and workers everywhere to attend that meeting and discuss the future of one of our most important labor unions.