US: interesting facts about the UAW union image

The Detroit-based United Auto Workers union has always been an integral part of the US automotive industry but the truth is they also represent workers across numerous other sectors, such as casinos, education or state employees.

Today the spotlight is on the voting process of around 40,000 Fiat Chrysler UAW members that will cast their dice on the ratification process of their newly inked tentative four year contract on Tuesday and Wednesday. While “Autoworkers” is part of the union’s name, actually no more than 50 percent of total membership – of about 400,000 – people are employed in the Detroit Three’s factories in the US. The rest are scattered across numerous other sectors, from casinos and agriculture to aerospace. For example, the UAW’s real name is as follows: the United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America.

Another interesting and less known fact is that Walter P. Reuther – one of the biggest labor names in the US and president of the UAW for 34 years – was not actually the founder. Francis Dillon was the first president and the organization was established back in 1935 by the American Federation of Labor. Additionally, while the UAW represents 140,000 workers at General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler, the actual membership base as of December 31, 2014 was of 403,000 persons. This year is also big in terms of non-automotive contracts – with all eyes on the Detroit Three, the UAW also has to work its other big contracts – with the state of Michigan, for example, where it represents 16,800 state employees. The union also inked a six-year agreement in the beginning of the month, already ratified by workers, with John Deere – where it represents 11,000 employees.