UAW Constitutional Convention: Where Labor Isn’t all They Do

Posted by Tucker Nelson on Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 at 5:23 pm - Permalink

This week Detroit hosts the 36th Constitutional Convention for the United Auto Workers (UAW). Delegates at the Convention will elect a new President at the end of the week, as current President Bob King’s term expires. They will pass resolutions, elect people to new posts such as Vice President and so- forth. Tuesday June 3rd, delegates even raised UAW dues for first time in 47 years.

On the UAW’s convention website it states that: “delegates at the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention overwhelmingly approved changing the dues structure.” Though delegates did pass a change in dues, Reuters reported that this vote was much closer than the UAW is letting on:

In a rare divisive debate at the UAW convention, where most resolutions are passed by near-unanimity, 20 delegates spoke for and 20 against the measure.
After a voice vote was declared by UAW President Bob King to be too close to call, a show of hands in the downtown Detroit convention hall showed support for the union. It appeared that nearly a third voted against the dues increase”

Though King may have been campaigning for a dues increase for the last 6 months, it seems that at least one-third of his colleagues disagreed with the raise in dues. The raise in dues comes at a time when the UAW’s strike fund is the smallest many have seen in decades. A decade ago the UAW’s strike fund was around $1 billion; today it is more like $600 million.

This dues increase according to the UAW will generate about $45 million in additional revenue. According to the UAW, average members will be paying $10 more a month in dues then they are paying now. This is a 25 percent increase dues paying members will absorb, even as UAW membership increased 10 percent under the leadership of President Bob King.

Dues increases are not all the delegates have passed so far at this convention so far. Approved resolutions by the delegates include Human Rights and peace initiatives, rebuilding American cities, and ending American hunger.

UAW delegates approved resolutions that in regards to Human Rights which “….call for a clear timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan that will ensure stability, but not leave the U.S. with an unnecessary and open-ended commitment.” The UAW’s answer to ending American hunger is supporting food stamps, protecting, improving and expanding the SNAP or food stamp program. And the UAW believes that they can rebuild American cities, even after they were a major cause in the economic destruction and bankruptcy of Detroit. They hope to restore urban areas across America by:

“……using our bargaining relationships with employers, finding and using public policy to bring investment back into America’s cities, ensuring adequate funding for quality public services, defending the rights of municipal workers, improving urban mass transit systems to link cities with their suburbs, and adopting “smart growth” strategies to discourage sprawl and encourage the cleanup and redevelopment of urban brownfield sites.”

The UAW has faced a tough year. Under King’s leadership the union failed to organize any of the Southern foreign owned auto plants, a cornerstone of the union’s master plan to gain power, money and members.  After facing an expensive loss in February at Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Tennessee the plant they thought they had in the bag, Southern foreign owned manufacturing is still an attainable goal, or so they think. It will be interesting to see if the new President thinks the same.