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What are current UAW dues?
At the 36th Constitutional Convention held in June 2014, the delegates passed changes to Article 16 of the UAW Constitution, which changed the UAW dues structure for the first time since March 1968. For members who work in either the private or public sectors with a legal right to strike, the minimum monthly dues is an amount equivalent to 2.5 hours of straight time pay for members working full time paid on an hourly basis, or 1.44% of gross straight time monthly wages for members paid on a salaried basis and for members employed part-time and paid on an hourly basis.
For members who work in the public sector and are legally prohibited from striking, the minimum monthly dues will be an amount equivalent to 1.9 hours of straight time pay for members working full time paid on an hourly basis or 1.095% of gross straight time monthly wages for members paid on a salaried basis and for members employed part-time and paid on an hourly basis. In addition, the Strike Assistance Fund was changed to the Strike and Defense Fund (see more, below). Per action of the delegates, the dues increase is subject to reaffirmation at the 37th Constitutional Convention in June 2018. If not reaffirmed, minimum monthly dues revert back to 2010 levels.
Now that the dues increase has passed, when will my dues increase?
The dues increase went into effect the first regularly scheduled pay roll period in which dues are normally deducted beginning November 1, 2014.
What is the Strike and Defense Fund?
The delegates to the convention changed the name of the Strike Assistance Fund to the Strike and Defense Fund. The Strike and Defense Fund broadens the Strike Assistance Fund to reflect changing times.
As an initial matter, members who are currently exempt from contributing to the Strike Assistance Fund because the nature of their employment bars strikes (i.e., most public sector workers) would contribute to the new Strike and Defense Fund. Public sector workers are facing increasingly aggressive attacks on their basic right to collective bargaining. Defending the right of public sector workers to bargain has become a commonplace (and costly) endeavor.
Moreover, the reality of bargaining today is that the battles all UAW members face have changed. Employers today use a variety of aggressive tactics to try to defeat strikes: hiring permanent replacement workers, filing lawsuits, shifting work to nonunion locations or sending it overseas. We still need to have the ability to pay benefits during a prolonged national strike, but we also need to have the ability to carry out multi-pronged strategic campaigns in addition to, or even instead of, a traditional strike.
All of these campaigns require resources, just as a strike does. Amending the UAW Constitution to update the name and the purpose of the Strike Assistance Fund ensures that we have the resources to take on future contract fights and the flexibility to use the most effective tactics to win those fights. The core purpose of the Strike and Defense Fund is exactly the same as the core purpose of the Strike Assistance Fund: to provide direct material support to our fellow members who are fighting for a fair contract, including defending their right to collective bargaining. It cannot be used for regular operating expenses.
All disbursements from the renamed Strike and Defense Fund would be subject to approval of the IEB, just as strike assistance payments are. The IEB considers multiple factors, including but not limited to: cost, likelihood of success, ramifications for all UAW membership and need to build the Strike and Defense Fund.
What are my dues used for?
Each month, the amount of actual strike assistance benefits (weekly benefits and medical costs) are compared to 5% of the total amount received from the first two hours of dues. To the extent that the actual strike assistance benefits are less than 5% of the first two hours of dues for the month, the excess is accumulated for the 13th check rebate which goes to the Local Unions and the General Fund. With the 13th check rebate, the Strike and Defense Fund receives 20%, the Local Union receives 42% and the International receives 38%. When there is no 13th check rebate, the Strike and Defense Fund receives 44%, the Local Union 30% and the International 26%.
The funds going to the International Union’s General Fund cover a broad array of support services for local unions including but not limited to:
Why did the delegates vote to increase dues?
First and foremost, the former Strike Assistance Fund had shrunk considerably in recent years and action was necessary to rebuild the Fund. There were many factors that led to this.
The reallocation of dues from building up the Strike Assistance Fund to covering operating costs was a prudent decision at the time, as were the transfers to allow the union to continue to serve the membership in perilous times while growing to build our bargaining power for the future. But several things occurred which negatively affected this plan:
Why do we need a well-funded Strike and Defense Fund?
A well-funded strike fund is a strong deterrent to employers who doubt the resolve of UAW members. When employers know that we have the resources to support long struggles, it is a compelling incentive for them to bargain fair and equitable contracts for our members without forcing a strike or lockout. To the extent that our strike fund continues to decline, employers who monitor our finances will be emboldened to test our mettle at the bargaining table. Employers’ respect for our financial strength has been one major reason why we have not had to take on long, national strikes in recent years.
While the deterrent value of the strike fund has been very effective, it is important to understand the cost of potential strikes. For all UAW members, strike benefits are decided by the IEB and are currently approximately $1,610 per member per month ($860 per month in strike assistance payments and $750 for health care costs). In addition, members on strike do not pay dues. In 2012, only 522 UAW members were on strike or locked out, and they received $4.9 million from the union’s Strike Assistance Fund.
What other changes did the delegates pass at the convention affecting the UAW’s financial future?
In addition to the half-hour dues increase, the delegates passed several key cost-reduction initiatives:
How much will the dues increase mean to me?
The exact amount depends on your earnings – it would be half your hourly rate of pay. For a member earning $20 an hour, the increase would be $10 a month. That works out to a little over $2.30 a week, or roughly 33 cents a day. An online calculator is available to help you figure out the impact on your own situation.
Another way of looking at the increase is as the investment of 6 hours of pay each year in your union’s ability to take on contract fights in the future.
What other plans are in the works to curb costs?
As stewards of members’ dues dollars, the International carefully considers expenditures. In recent years, millions have been saved through cost cutting and efficiencies; but more work needs to be done. In fact, in recent years, reductions in operating costs have included:
Additional planned reductions include:
There are some areas where we can’t cut back, however. The purpose of our union is to win improvements for our members and a better life for all working people; we absolutely must have critical resources to take on fights with employers and win them. Above all, we must strengthen our membership in our core industries so we are not bargaining our way to the bottom. As long as employers are able pit UAW members and nonunion workers against one another, we’re not going to be able to win the kinds of gains we deserve. Cutting back on spending without a bigger plan to organize, build power and improve our members’ lives would be self-defeating.
How many staff does the UAW have?
Since 2003, staff has been reduced from 817 to 479 – a 41% reduction. Similarly, clerical have been reduced from 366 to 149 – a 59% reduction.
What are the upcoming challenges/fights that UAW members face?
Over the next few years, agreements covering nearly half of our members will be expiring. In 2014, we had bargaining at Navistar. In 2015, we will be entering into negotiations with Chrysler, Ford and General Motors as well as John Deere and Mitsubishi. The following year, we will be bargaining with CNH (Fiat) and Caterpillar. Negotiations with any of these employers are always difficult, but in the current environment they will be especially so: we know the companies will fiercely resist our efforts to raise up the second tier, protect health care, win overdue raises and address other pressing concerns.
Strengthening our Strike and Defense Fund heading into these negotiations will put employers on notice that we are serious about winning fairness in our workplaces.
Nonunion workers in my industry are my competitors; why should we organize them?
From the 1950s through the early 1980s, the U.S. auto industry was virtually 100% union. But the nonunion sector of the industry has been growing steadily since the mid-1980s, and this trend has accelerated since the year 2000. In 2003, roughly 79% of the vehicles assembled in the U.S. came from unionized plants. By last year, that had fallen to roughly 55%.
The resulting loss of bargaining power has had a devastating impact on autoworkers – union and nonunion alike. Average hourly pay for autoworkers in this country peaked in 2003 (once inflation is factored in). Since then, purchasing power of an average hour’s pay has fallen more than 20%.
By organizing the competition, we can set standards for the entire industry. If we fail to organize them, our competitors will be setting standards for us.
Why should I support a dues increase when the UAW gives money to politicians I don’t like?
UAW participates in political action because elections have consequences, and our experience of recent years has driven this point home again and again. In state after state, anti-union legislators are proposing and passing laws designed to strip away the very right to collectively bargain. Whether it is taking away the right to have dues check-off for public workers or a wholesale change such as Michigan’s right-to-work law – legislators and their corporate benefactors have been busy eroding the very right of workers to stand together and have a voice in their wages and working conditions.
It is vital that we continue to advocate for candidates who will fairly represent their communities and the rights of workers. To that end, our union makes contributions to candidates at the local, state and federal level. Federal laws prohibit the use of dues dollars for campaign contributions, and this is true of most states as well. In these elections, the union’s spending on partisan political activity comes out of separate funds that are contributed for that purpose through our voluntary V-CAP program. We also use resources to educate membership and the general public on important matters that affect working families. When members have solid, factual information about issues, we can be more effective in our advocacy for fair trade, fair taxes and an economy that works for working people.
In any event, the dues increase which passed at the 2014 Constitutional Convention will be dedicated strictly to the Strike and Defense Fund. While it may be used to support member mobilization against specific threats to bargaining rights and other attacks on UAW members, it cannot and will not be used for partisan political activity.
Our union bylaws state that our dues are 2 hours per month; so, how can my dues be raised?
Article 3 of the International Constitution provides that it is “the supreme law of the International Union.” Therefore, changes to the UAW Constitution (dues obligations are spelled out in Article 16) will be controlling.
Where can I read the UAW Constitution?
Members (and the general public) can find the UAW Constitution in its entirety on our union’s web page.
Where can I find out more?
We invite you to visit our website at www.uaw.org and to email us at email@example.com. While you're on the website, sign up for the UAWire, if you haven't already, to ensure you receive regular updates on the plan. You can also learn the latest from the UAW at our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/uaw.union.