Checking on the UAW

A look at the international union's LM-2

The LM-2 forms for 2009 are up on the Department of Labor website. Let’s look at some of the highlights. Up first, the United Auto Workers. It was a tough year all around for the crew at Solidarity House:

  • Membership was down by more than 75,000, dropping from 431,037 at the end of 2008 to 355,191 last December. This translates into a percentage decline of 17.6. This was to be expected given the tough times in the auto industry, but the UAW in particular took a hard hit; job declines were 15.9 percent for the auto industry as a whole. The UAW organizes outside of the auto industry, as well, but its membership appears to be doing much poorer than total employment as well. The number of jobs was down 5.4 percent for the state of Michigan and 3.5 percent nationally over this period.
  • With membership dropping, revenues declined sharply as well. Per-capita taxes, the portion of union dues that went to the national union, fell from $161.3 million in 2008 to $127.5 million for 2009. That accounts for most of a $38.4 million drop in overall receipts for the union between ’08 and ’09.
  • A union’s political work is never done, at least if the report is taken at face value. While 2008 was an election year and 2009 was not, the UAW claims to have spent $10.6 million on political activism and lobbying in 2008 and came pretty close to matching that in 2009, at $9.7 million. Proportionally the decline in political spending was much less than the decline in membership or dues revenue. These figures should be taken with a grain of salt, however, as unions have been prone to mask political activism as representational spending. The real amount that the UAW spends on politics is liable to be higher.
  • The UAW is considering selling off its Black Lake property in northern Michigan near Onaway. The union currently values the property’s educational center at $27.8 million and golf course at $6.1 million.
  • UAW President Ron Gettlefinger earned a salary of $157,750 in 2009, fairly modest considering for the size of the organization he runs. He received a very modest pay raise of $633 in ’09. Organizing for the UAW is pretty well compensated — organizers' salaries regularly exceeded six figures.

We'll have comments on more union financial reports over the coming days.