By on April 1, 2011

And no, it’s not an April Fools day story! Bloomberg reports

The United Auto Workers membership rose 6 percent to 376,612 last year, the first gain in six years as U.S. automakers began hiring amid a recovery in sales.

The UAW’s membership increased by 21,421 members from 355,191 in 2009, according to a union filing today with the U.S. Department of Labor.

UAW President Bob King has wasted no time in declaring this a sign of recovery in what you might call the UAW’s “core business”:

This increase is a reflection of new organizing by the UAW, the recovery of the domestic auto industry and UAW members who won a first contract during the year. We hope to continue this growth in 2011 and beyond, as we fight to win a more fair and democratic process for workers to organize.

Of course, King’s attempt to link this minor improvement in his union’s membership to the recovery of the domestic auto industry is the real April Fools joke here…

The Freep reports that, of the UAW’s 21,421 new workers, nearly half are obviously from the non-automotive sector.

In 2010, the UAW won new members after organizing 6,500 postdoctoral researchers at the University of California, 2,500 casino workers at Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut and 700 workers at Tropicana Casino and Resort in Atlantic City, N.J.

So, about half the union’s growth is coming from autos and the other half is coming from universities and casinos. Meanwhile, King admits that his union has lost the ability to dictate terms to even the automakers that are still UAW organized, telling his membership [via Bloomberg]

My heart aches. We don’t have the justice our members deserve. We let unionization fall so far that we don’t have the power to do pattern bargaining.

Which is why King pins the long-term viability of his union on its ability to organize transplant and overseas auto workers. If that effort fails, says King (and it looks like it might),

I don’t think there’s a long-term future for the UAW — I really don’t,

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18 Comments on “UAW Membership Increases!...”


  • avatar

    So why would casino workers and postdoctoral researchers want to be organized by the UAW, anyway?
    D

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I don’t know about casino workers, but post-doc students get paid very little and are often exploited by univiersities and senior faculty.
       
      Or, as many of my friends say, not only is it more lucrative to be a barista at Starbucks than work as a sessional professor, TA or lab assistant, but you get better benefits and aren’t likely to be blackballed if you don’t, well, grab your ankles.

    • 0 avatar

      What delicious irony. A lefty complaining about how the entitled and tenured academic left exploits its own workers. Hardly anybody with a paycheck works fewer hours than a tenured university professor. See, when I read something interesting, it’s leisure reading. When a professor reads the same material, it’s “research”.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      What delicious irony. A lefty complaining about how the entitled and tenured academic left exploits its own workers.

      Yup, what can I say, I’m an equal-opportunity syndicalist.

      Never mind it’s much less incongruous than a Tea Party member on Medicare, or a conservative who rails against government intervention but supports capital punishment.

    • 0 avatar
      Telegraph Road

      “Hardly anybody with a paycheck works fewer hours than a tenured university professor.”
      Ronnie, you should be more than willing to compete with them for tenure at their universities.  Tenure is accorded by merit.  Do you have it?
       
      Most tenured profs I know work very long hours.

    • 0 avatar

      I am a conservative (to show that I see both sides here) who worked for a tenured professor at a major university. He worked practically 24/7. Even while he was nominally partying he was thinking about his work. I liked working for him except that he drove his team absurdly hard – but to be fair, nobody worked harder than he.
      I don’t think I have ever worked for anyone who worked so hard and yet concretely achieved so little for his work.
      The reward system of universities, from what I could see, doesn’t reward people for EFFECTIVE use of time, just make-work projects they can cause donors to believe are useful. That’s very different from a real economy, where your reward is determined by what you can get real-world customers to pay for.
      So although professors are hard-working generally, and believe they are doing great things, the real-world applicability of what they do is sadly limited, and that’s what makes them appear to be lazy to outsiders.
      Or at least that’s what I felt after spending about a year in academia.
      By the way, my real question was not why Casino workers or Postdocs might want a union.  It was “Why the UAW instead of the Postdoc’s Union or the Casino Workers’ union?”  I would think distinct organizations would want their own union instead of being part of the UAW.
      D

  • avatar
    tparkit

    “King admits that his union has lost the ability to dictate terms to even the automakers that are still UAW organized”

    The union still has the power to dictate terms to the Democratic Party, and that seems to be worth something — like, Oh, $80 billion or so, plus a Washington-orchestrated campaign of harassment and extortion against Toyota.

    http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/watercooler/2011/mar/31/barack-obama-losing-84-billion-big-success/

    “Which is why King pins the long-term viability of his union on its ability to organize transplant and overseas auto workers. If that effort fails, says King (and it looks like it might) … ‘I don’t think there’s a long-term future for the UAW — I really don’t\'”.

    Surely you jest, Brother King. I haven’t heard such modesty since a panel of famous talking heads from CBS/NBC/ABC denied that the television media had any real political power.

    First, your friends in DC may be able to strongarm and regulate the transplants into buying parts made by your members. Your team may also be able to ride the greenscam wave into a nice business producing or assembling components for light rail transit, windmills, solar panels, electric – or fuel-cell-vehicle infrastructure, two-way “smart” metering/switching for residences, and other boondoggles so dependent on federal money that would-be investors will easily see the logic of involving the UAW in their contract proposals.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      Blah Blah Blah – $80 billion! Really. If my memory serves a) it was less than that and b) it has mainly been paid back – so not a bad “investment” after all.
      I suppose we could just keep giving multiple billions a year to oil companies as corporate welfare. I think they donate to a political party too, just not so much the Democrats!

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      As much as I’d like to dump on the Republican party, big donations go to the likely winner, not to one party or the other by virtue of political leanings.  You can tell, in every election, who is likely to win by who is garnering the most money.  In 2008 is was the Democrats, in 2010 is was the Republicans.
       
      Unions go Democrat, that is true, but they also don’t contribute particularly much.  The bulk of donations come from financial institutions, large legal firms and professional services.  Everyone else is far, far back of line.

    • 0 avatar
      nonce

      Unions go Democrat, that is true, but they also don’t contribute particularly much.  The bulk of donations come from financial institution

      Of the top ten donors that come up on opensecrets.org, SEVEN of the ten are labor unions.
       

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      Psar, you’re right about one thing, the non-union money goes to the perceived winner almost all the time. But you miniimize the greatest contribution of unions, even above their massive dollar donations. The biggest contribution, if it were monetized, is the time of dedicated members spent going door-to-door and manning phone banks to call for their chosen (Democrat) candidates. Was that a purposeful omission on your part or inadvertent?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      @nonce: True, but Labour is only seventh, and a distant seventh at that, in terms of net dollars. well (well!) behind financial institutions, lawyers and the like. Labour is unique in that it’s one of the rare partisan donors, but when banks, business, lawyers and insurers donating more than six to eight times what labour does, it kind of puts it into perspective.
       
      @MikeAR:  You bring what is, truthfully, an irrelevant point.  Shaking hands with doorknobs does nothing as most people already know which way they’re going to go.  When was the last time someone came to your door, or rang your phone at dinner time and actually got you to consider their point?
       
      I could make a similar point about Republicans and their captive audiences in churches across the nation, and it would be equally invalid.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      There are lots of left wing churches Psar. In fact most of the mainline Protestant churches are pretty far left. Unfortunately so is much of the Catholic church. But to answer your point about volunteers, you miss the point completely on purpose. Volunteers are free extensions of campaigns, they call and knock on doors, put up signs and generally get attention for their candidates. It may not have much value in the overall scheme but it’s good value for the cost. You would be suprised at how many calls and visits I got during the last campaign. You’re right about one thing though, none of them changed my mind.

  • avatar
    fincar1

    I think we can expect to see a lot more UAW expansion into casinos, particularly Native American-owned ones. In my state of Washington, these outfits seem to be able to get anything they want from our Democratic governor, and it seems a natural path for union expansion. I’d be surprised not to see UAW expansion into these workplaces.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Whoa….A defeatist at the UAW helm 5 months away from negotiations with the former big three. The same dude that figures he can organize the transplants.

    Walter Reuther must be rolling over in his grave.

     The rank and file, and the union wannabees, are thinking, lets have French tonight. In the form of a Coup d’etat.

    Mark my words B&B …..this dude wants to get his act together real soon,or he might end up as an Asterisk in the UAW history books.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Mark my words B&B …..this dude wants to get his act together real soon,or he might end up as an Asterisk in the UAW history books.
       
      I think you’re right on that.  But the next guy won’t do any better, since the battle is already lost.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Which is why King pins the long-term viability of his union on its ability to organize transplant and overseas auto workers.

    King pins.  What an appropriate literary device in this context.

  • avatar
    Doc

    The UAW had a nice scam going here in Michigan. A law was passed very quietly that required you to join the UAW in order to get a license to open a day care center in the state.
    This is the kind of stuff that really angers people about labor unions. This is just a scam. These workers are not willingly joining a union to stop exploitation by evil capitalists. The union dues are funneled in to largely democratic party campaigns who then pass laws like this to increase the union dues which then get sent back to the politicians and so on and so on.
    It is one big party and the taxpayers get the bill.


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