What Is CAP?
The Community Action Program of the UAW (CAP) is the union’s non-partisan political arm. It is a department of the International Union.
It isn’t a political party and it isn’t tied to a political party. It endorses candidates, on the basis of their records and their stand upon issues that affect working Americans. Over the years, CAP Councils have endorsed Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
Local and regional political endorsements are made by the UAW’s 160 CAP Councils or by other union bodies acting upon CAP Council recommendations. CAP Councils are made up of rank and file union members and retirees.
The UAW’s International Executive Board makes the union’s endorsement for president and vice-president following a secret ballot recommendation from each of the nation’s UAW locals.
There is a CAP Council working on political issues and candidate research at every level of the UAW and for every level of government in every area of the country where UAW members and retirees work and live.
Why Is Labor in Politics?
Political attacks on labor unions are nothing new. Every time the U.S. Congress or a state legislature opens a new session, a flood of bills intended to restrict the rights and protections of working Americans and their labor unions is introduced. Often the source of the proposed legislation is industrial and business organizations interested in undermining unions and workers’ pay and benefits.
When working men and women help elect friendly candidates, passage of the bills is less likely.
Workers have learned through bitter experience that there is a powerful link between the bread box and the ballot box. Gains won at the bargaining table and through sacrifice on the picket line can be wiped out by the hostile actions of political leaders, state legislatures, and Congress.
Today’s wage increase can be erased by unfair taxes or inflation. Jobs are lost because of laws that reward industry for moving work overseas.
Unions are in politics to protect the welfare and security of their members. The UAW believes that democracy can flourish only when all its citizens-especially all working Americans-take part.
The UAW and National CAP seek programs that provide better education for the young, more security for the elderly, and improved health care for all America.
We want fairer tax laws, an end to poverty in our land, equal rights for all, protection for consumers, safer and more liveable cities, protection for the family farmer, improved housing and transportation, and an end to pollution.
The union especially seeks programs that will provide for full employment. For those without work, we see better unemployment compensation.
In short, we seek a better America for all America. Political education and political activism make it possible for us to achieve our goals.
What CAP Does
CAP helps register union members and their families to vote.
CAP distributes the voting records of senators and members of Congress and helps union members learn about political issues so that can make informed choices when they vote.
CAP endorses candidates on the basis of their voting records and their programs-not on the basis of their party affiliation.
CAP conducts annual voluntary dollar drives and V-CAP checkoff solicitations asking each union member to contribute to UAW V-CAP. Federal law prohibits the use of dues funds as contributions to candidates for federal and for some state offices.
CAP contributes to endorsed candidates for the U.S. House and Senate from funds collected in the voluntary dollar drives.
CAP urges all union members and voting-age members of their families to vote.
CAP organizes volunteer political work in states and communities. Most volunteers are union members and their families who put in many hours of work on phone banks and in their neighborhoods. The work to get union members registered to vote. They discuss issues with voters, and they get out the vote on Election Day.
CAP is involved in many local community projects to help bring about a better quality of life where UAW members work and live.
What CAP Doesn’t Do
CAP does not tell anybody how to vote.
CAP does not force members to contribute to it.
CAP does not use due money for contributions to federal candidates.
CAP does not force members to take part in its programs at their local unions or in their community.
CAP can’t do any of these things … and it wouldn’t want to anyway.
Government: It’s Everyone’s Business
Union members should be proud of the many positive contributions the labor movement has made to good law, government, and safe and healthy communities through political education and political action.
Unions helped establish free public schools and abolish debtors prisons. They were instrumental in promoting the 40-hour week, the minimum wage and in ending child labor.
They worked for laws to make union organizing and collective bargaining the policy of the U.S. Government.
Unions fought hard for the passage of Social Security and are still involved in retaining and improving this vital program.
In more recent years, they have supported worker education, health and safety laws, civil rights laws, pension security and stronger protection for displaced workers.
Unions must be active in politics because, whatever we say about it, government-big, medium or small-is ours. It belongs to us-the people. It’s going to be as good or bad as we make it.
CAP wants to make it good. CAP believes government will be good if we all participate-young and old, black and white, men and women, all of us. It’s everybody’s business.
Our democratic form of government does work. Our UAW-CPA helps make it work. That’s our responsibility and that’s our challenge. But don’t kid yourself. It’s your challenge, too.
What You Can Do
Take part in CAP programs in your local union, your community and state.
Help in voter registration and Get-Out-The-Vote programs.
Participate in the election of CAP-endorsed candidates.
Give to the UAW V-CAP fund drives or sign up on checkoff if your local union has a checkoff program.
Community Action Program
UAW National CAP Department
8000 E. Jefferson Ave.
Detroit, MI 48214
Phone: (313) 926-5531
Fax: (313) 926-5691
PUB C1000-4/03 – 50M (transcribed for storage & transmission)