UAW Membership Drops To Post WWII Low

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
uaw membership drops to post wwii low

For the first time since WWII, UAW membership has dropped below half a million hardhats, reports the Kansas City Star . The news comes from a Labor Department filing, which shows that the union was down to just 464,910 members by the end of 2007, compared with 538,448 at the end of 2006. This continues a trend of decline for the union since membership peaked in 1979, at 1.5m dues-paying members. Many of the losses can be tied to the dismal performance of the Detroit automakers, who have been cutting jobs, closing factories and buying out workers in hopes of returning to profitability. With American automakers tanking and taking their membership with them, the UAW is trying to rebound by targeting the North American factories of Toyota and Honda. But the transplants have carefully avoided building plants in union strongholds, and have thus far held off attempts to unionize their American factories. And no wonder. Although the UAW has done well by its members over the years, its colossal pension liabilities and uncompetitive approach to wages have been an undeniable factor in the decline of Detroit.

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  • MikeInCanada MikeInCanada on Mar 31, 2008

    Mikey - the workers that you refer to as "barely survive(ing)". Is it because they are underpaid in their current job, or is it they've lost their job because their respective companies are not competitive? And what's with the class warfare stuff - my CEO makes millions and it does not affect my pay at all. I don't see a deduction on my check for his salary. If CEO's consistently make that kind of coin then I need to keep upgrading my skills so I can get promoted - how do you spell "MBA"?

  • Sherman Lin Sherman Lin on Mar 31, 2008

    Mikey can you cite any precedant for Toyota and Honda screwing over their enployees by lowering wages simply because they could? The thing that is killing Detroit is not the high wages paid to the UAW and similiarly it is not going to be a problem with the transplants. The problem is the healthcare to retirees and the pension obligations. The transplant employees get medicare and they get their 401ks so I fail to see why the transplants would lower wages. I have yet to see any evidence of the FU attitude displayed by the Detroit 3 to be displayed by Toyota and Honda. They seem to actually follow the old saying treat others as you want to be treated. The Detroit 3 conversely have a long history of F-ing anyone and everyone over be it customers, suppliers or employees.

  • Silverkris Silverkris on Mar 31, 2008

    Let's put this in perspective here. The wages paid to workers at the transplant factories are comparable to UAW factories. The NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA which builds Toyota Corollas is a UAW shop. A factor for Toyota and Honda keeping their NA factories nonunion is by paying competitive wages and benefits. So the meme of the "overpaid UAW worker" just doesn't fly. As mentioned, the big difference is the liabilities of the healthcare benefits and retiree pensions - it's a big problem for companies like GM, Ford, etc, who have older workforces and many retirees who were bought out in early retirement plans over the years. Interestingly enough, the total costs are lower in Canada which has a universal health care plan.

  • Digler Digler on Feb 26, 2009

    RowAS-Not sure if your generalizations are correct in regards to quality of vehicles built by UAW employees, in particular Ford's UAW. Publications such as Consumer Reports, The Harbour Report, are among just some that have given praise to Ford/UAW for their outstanding achievements in quality. 3 MIS once was the standard and is now 1 MIS which has raised the bar to levels unheard off in years past. I can't speak for GM and Chysler, but I'm sure their well aware of where they need to be.