UAW’s ranks lifted by 12,000 new members in 2014 image

The United Auto Workers union had a membership surge last year, with 12,000 new people being affiliated for a total membership of 403,466, the fifth year the ranks have gained new members, according to data from a yearly filling with the U.S. Department of Labor.

The UAW membership thus rose by three percent and this year the union is gearing up to start contract negotiations with the Detroit Three: General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler US. The talks are scheduled to start during the summer, ahead of the current contracts expiration date set for mid-September. UAW membership has also surged 13.6 percent since reaching its record lowest figure back in 2009, at 355,191 members. The same filling showed the UAW’s net assets were down 1.1 percent in 2014 to $971.5 million, according to the same filling.

The UAW has some advantages and disadvantages when entering the labor contract negotiations this summer. One advantage is that all three carmakers come off record profit and sales in the past few years, and the union officials can also leverage the recent payments increases seen by the chief executives of all three companies. Another trump card is that two of the automakers have restored the right to strike, which was ceded by the union back in the dark days of the financial collapse. One major disadvantage is that carmakers have started investing heavily in neighboring Mexico or the Southern US states, traditionally against unions. The UAW so far only gained a feeble advantage in its drive to enter Southern territory, by claiming a partial win in representing the workers at VW’s Tennessee factory.

Via Automotive News Europe