Increasing automotive sales had necessitated a bigger workforce, also leading to a 1.1% increase in UAW membership to 380,719 at the end of 2011. This is the second straight annual gain for the union. According to a filing submitted last Friday with the U.S. Labor Department, the UAW added 4,107 members from 376,612 in 2010.
Companies that posted higher sales and a wider share in the U.S. include General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC. In 2010, the UAW reported a 6% increase from the prior year.
Notably, the total UAW membership is just one-fourth of its size in 1979 when it reached its peak at 1.5 million members. Kristin Dziczek, director of the labor and industry group for the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., said that there has to be a bigger union so that it could gain strength at the bargaining table.
He added that the UAW’s future relies on the organization of new workers. However, he admits that this isn’t an easy task. The UAW seeks to rebuild its membership after having been unsuccessful at organizing the U.S. plants of Toyota Motor Corp., Honda Motor Co. and Nissan Motor Co.
UAW President Bob King made a pledge to reinforce the union’s bargaining power by organizing the workers at the U.S. plants owned by Asian or European automakers in 2011. King didn’t meet this deadline. Last year, the union president said that the UAW was in talks with automakers, which haven’t been identified yet.
UAW has begun to distribute authorization cards at Volkswagen AG’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. The Center for Automotive Research said that by 2015, GM, Ford and Chrysler will hire 14,750 workers represented by the UAW. Last year, these three car companies employed 110,150 UAW-represented workers. This stands for a drop of nearly two-thirds from about 300,000 in 2001. The center believes that by 2015, the U.S. automakers will employ 120,400 UAW workers. Dziczek said that a key factor on the ability of the UAW to sustain its organization is its growth. [source: Autonews]