While the MEA/NEA is arguably more powerful, no union is more associated with Michigan than the United Auto Workers. According to its LM-2 reports, the UAW is more focused on representation than many other unions, which is particularly noteworthy because the bulk of its members are employed by three companies - General Motors, Ford and (at the time) DaimlerChrysler - and the UAW did not negotiate master contracts with any of those companies during 2006.

Unlike most other unions, the UAW does not have statewide affiliates, an organizational distinction that is probably due to its members being geographically concentrated in Michigan and surrounding states. The UAW does, however, have a network of Community Action Programs, which are funded by per-capita "taxes" based on local membership in the CAP's geographical area. It appears that an individual worker can have a portion of his or her dues directed to more than one CAP.[40] While CAP funds are modest compared to the overall UAW structure, some of them are large enough to file LM-2 forms. The CAPs we reviewed appeared to have performed no representation function. The bulk of CAP spending was in the political and lobbying realm, with some spending directed to contributions, gifts and grants.

Our review of UAW LM-2 forms indicates that most UAW spending is eventually made at the national level. UAW locals vary wildly as to the quality of LM-2 filings, and a number of UAW LM-2 forms were disregarded because of allocations of expenditures and staff time that strained credulity. For instance, the LM-2 form submitted by Local 600 in Dearborn listed $10,000 in softball field rentals and over $30,000 in athletic uniforms as representation expenses.[41] Local 155 in Warren reportedly had a "Dues Clerk" spend 90 percent of his time on representation, an odd allocation of time for a union employee whose duties ostensibly involve tracking the receipt of membership dues. Local 155's itemized "representation" expenses also consisted mostly of overhead, catering, gift cards and insurance whose connection to representation was not elaborated upon.[42] Local 3000 in Woodhaven did not give job titles for most of its staff, making it impossible for us to evaluate their time allocations.[43] LM-2 forms for these locals were disregarded, even though they were among the largest in Michigan in terms of membership.

However, three UAW locals filed LM-2 forms that avoided particularly questionable allocations of expenditures and contained staff time allocations that we found plausible. Those locals were 652 in Lansing, 235 in Hamtramck and 228 in Sterling Heights. Our estimates of UAW spending are based on filings from these locals.

The portion of UAW local spending dedicated to representation varied widely, from less than 20 percent to nearly 50 percent, with 35.6 percent being average. Representation spending was exceeded by administration, which accounted for 41.1 percent of an average local's expenditures. The bulk of the remainder went to overhead. Overall per-member spending averaged $163.21, which makes up 23.9 percent of the combined per-member spending by locals, CAP funds and the international union.

Graphic 12: Locals 652, 235 and 228, Average (23.9 Percent of Total) - click to enlarge

The LM-2 reports do not fully break down the relationships and geographic coverage among the UAW's CAP funds, but it appears that most UAW members in Michigan have dues, in the form of "per capita taxes," sent to two separate CAP funds: a regional CAP fund and the Michigan CAP fund. The UAW also has a National CAP fund, but this appears to draw funds directly from the National UAW account rather than from per-capita taxes, so we did not include it in our estimates. Our estimates of UAW cap fund spending are based on LM-2 filings from the Michigan CAP and the Region 1 CAP. Because the two overlap, we added expenditures from both on a per-member basis rather than average the two. As mentioned before, the CAP funds made up a modest portion of UAW activity, spending a total of $13.88 per member in 2006, only two percent of the per-member total.

None of that CAP spending, however, went into representation. Between the two CAP funds, more than two-thirds went into political and lobbying activities (68.8 percent) while less than a third (30.3 percent) went into contributions, gifts and grants. What little remained (less than one percent of CAP spending) was attributed to overhead. In summary, the UAW CAP programs are modest in size, but by their own reckoning contribute nothing to workplace representation.[44]

Graphic 13: Combined Spending for Michigan and Region 1 CAP Funds (2.0 Percent of Total) - click to enlarge

The UAW's national headquarters in Detroit oversees nearly three quarters (74.1 percent) of per-member expenditures. According to its LM-2 form, UAW headquarters appear to be reasonably focused on the representation function: by our calculations 63.0 percent of UAW spending falls into this category. This figure does not seem to be padded by overhead costs; our review of itemized representation expenditures indicates that overhead items make up only 5.8 percent of the UAW's itemized representation expenditures.

Graphic 14: UAW National Headquarters (74.1 Percent of Total) - click to enlarge

Some caution is in order before the UAW's national headquarters is lauded for its exemplary focus on representation. Much of the reason for the UAW having such a large percentage of spending dedicated to representation lies in the time allocations claimed for its staff. According to the UAW, 79.2 percent of its employee compensation went to officers and staff working on representation, an unusually large portion.[45] But officers and staff are not required to itemize projects that take up significant portions of their working hours, while with cash disbursements any item over $5,000 must be itemized, which serves as a check on the misallocation of spending. The LM-2 does not give us any other information we can use to verify how employees made use of their time.

Compared to the NEA, we found relatively few representation expenses that might be political rather than representational in nature, but there were some transfers to CAP funds listed under representation and, as we described earlier, CAP funds are primarily political in nature.

Graphic 15: UAW Spending on Representation, National Level - click to enlarge

With these caveats in mind, it appears that 55.2 percent of UAW dues ultimately go toward representation, with 21.2 percent going into administration and 9.6 percent spent on overhead. Our summary of the UAW follows:

Graphic 16: Summary of National, CAP Region and Local Spending, UAW - click to enlarge

[40] According to the UAW Constitution, a National CAP Advisory Council is to "advise and counsel the International Executive Board on programs and policies, including the per capita tax requirements of each Local Union to the CAP Councils."  The UAW Constitution also specifies that "It shall be mandatory that each Local Union affiliate with the appropriate State CAP Council and any city, county or area CAP Council established under this structure...";  UAW Constitution, Art. 23, Secs. 3(a) and 4.

[41] LM-2 for 2006 filed by UAW Local 600, Schedule 15.

[42] LM-2 for 2006 filed by UAW Local 155, Schedule 15.

[43] LM-2 for 2006 filed by UAW Local 3000, Schedule 12.

[44] Author's calculations based on LM-2 forms for 2006 filed by UAW Michigan and Region 1 CAP funds.

[45] Author's calculations based on LM-2 for 2006 filed by UAW National Headquarters.