What is the UAW?
The UAW International was founded in 1935 and is based in Detroit, Michigan. It has over $1 billion in assets. In 2018, the UAW received $256,382,935 in revenue primarily through union dues transmitted from UAW locals (in the form of a per capita tax), but had $258,264,174 in expenses. Of the nearly $260MM in expenses last year, just $93,340,890 (36%) were spent on representational activities. Here is a screenshot of the summary balance sheet that the UAW filed with the U.S. Department of Labor in March 2019:
At its peak in 1979, the UAW represented almost 1.5 million workers. Since 2000, UAW membership has declined over 58% from 671,853 members to 395,703 in 2018. UAW membership declined by over 35,000 employees alone between 2017 and 2018.
The UAW’s Constitution is over 200 pages long and contains rules members of the UAW must follow. When employees join the UAW, they actually enter into a “contract” with the UAW and the contract is enforceable in a court of law. If a UAW member fails to obey these rules, the UAW can bring them up on charges, place them on trial, and punish them through monetary fines or expulsion if the UAW finds them guilty of violating the UAW’s rules.
Also, if UAW members decide they are not happy with the UAW and they don’t want the UAW to represent them anymore, they can be punished by the UAW if they try to decertify the union. UAW members also can be punished by the UAW if they support any union other than the UAW. You can take a look at the UAW’s Constitution here.
UAW Local 42
Local 42 was previously certified as the collective bargaining representative for maintenance employees at Chattanooga, but the union disclaimed interest in the maintenance employee bargaining unit on April 15, 2019 after the UAW International from Detroit filed a petition with the NLRB on April 9, 2019 to represent both the production and maintenance employees. The NLRB later revoked the Local’s certification. Click here to view Local 42’s 2018 financial statement.
How much are union dues?
Each union sets its dues and can change them at any time. Often dues are a multiple of the worker’s hourly rate. This usually means that every time you get a wage increase, the union also gets an increase in the dues it collects. Currently, at a minimum, UAW dues for an hourly worker working at least 40 hours per month are 2.5 hours of straight time pay a month. See UAW Constitution, Art. 47, Sec. 2(b).
Do members have to pay an initiation fee to the UAW?
The UAW’s Constitution states that each new member will pay an initiation fee ranging from $10 to $50. See UAW Constitution, Art. 16, Sec. 1(a).
What happens if I miss a dues payment as member of the UAW?
A member that misses one monthly dues payment is suspended from the UAW, and in order to become a member in good standing must pay a reinstatement fine. See UAW Constitution, Art. 16, Sec. 21-22
What does the UAW do with money it collects in dues?
Monthly union dues provide revenue to the union, and can be used to pay salaries and benefits of union officials and office employees, rent, office expenses, insurance, car leases, etc. for union staff. The UAW also use the dues money it collects to organize other employees and to make political contributions to candidates the union’s leadership supports.
Do I have to let a UAW representative into my house?
A union representative has no more right to enter your house than any other member of the public.
Could I be fined or disciplined by the UAW?
Yes. Broadly, UAW members are subject to penalty if, as determined by the UAW, the member violates the UAW Constitution or otherwise engages in “conduct unbecoming a member of the Union.” Beyond these broad provisions, the UAW Constitution contains specific infractions for which a member is subject to penalty. One example of a specific infraction is that a UAW member may be subject to penalty if (1) a member accuses an International union officer of wrongdoing and (2) the International union officer is found innocent. Whether an International union officer is innocent or guilty is determined by a “jury” consisting of members that were seated delegates at the International Union Convention—typically members that are involved in union leadership.
Would Volkswagen defend me if I were brought up on UAW charges?
No. When the UAW disciplines its members, it is considered an internal union matter, and Volkswagen would have no right to do anything.
What is a UAW shop steward?
With a union, management can’t directly deal with employees over their wages, benefits and other conditions at work. Instead, you would have to go to a “shop steward”, an employee elected by only those employees who choose to the join the union and pay dues under the UAW Constitution, to resolve your problems. At that point, the decision whether to pursue your problem, or to drop it, belongs to the UAW.
What is super seniority?
In UAW contracts, a shop steward usually gets “super seniority” even though he or she might have been hired after other employees. This means that, in the event of a layoff, the union steward will be the last to be laid off, even if the steward was hired after other employees.
What voice will I have with the UAW if I decide not to join as a dues-paying member?
The UAW Constitution is clear. Non-members are not allowed to attend union meetings, they cannot run for or hold any office, and they do not have any voting rights. This means that non-members do not get to vote on whether to accept a labor contract negotiated by the UAW and they are not entitled to vote if the UAW calls for a strike. See UAW Constitution, Art. 6, Sec. 20; Art. 19, Sec. 3; Art. 50, Sec. 1.
2018 UAW Constitution: https://uaw.org/uaw-constitution-2/
UAW in the News
- Freefall: UAW Membership Declines Nearly 10 Percent (National Law Review)
- New Filings Show UAW Membership Fell In 2018 (GM Authority)
- The Specter Of Ever Higher Health Care Costs For UAW Workers Looms Over The Detroit Three (Forbes)
- UAW Favors “Targeted” Strike Strategy, Should Labor Negotiations Go South (GM Authority)
- Potential sale of shuttered GM plant clouded with doubt (Akron Legal News)
- Tough Lessons Taught in VW Plant’s Closing (Chicago Tribune)
- The UAW’s New Scab List (Chattanoogan)
- From one auto worker to another: be skeptical of UAW’s promises (The Tennessean)
- Here’s where GM layoffs stand after stunning blow to factory workers (Detroit Free Press)
- Ex-UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell pleads guilty in training center scandal (Detroit Free Press)
- UAW Local 961 sues UAW International and FCA; did corruption affect future with Marysville plant? (ABC Detroit WXYZ)
- Feds: UAW’s FCA unit ‘riddled with corruption’ during scandal (Detroit Free Press)