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Topics Automotive

Legal Alert: UAW Transfers Millions from Strike Fund to Use for Organizing Activities

Date   Jun 15, 2006
In a move that likely reflects the United Auto Worker's (UAW) concerns about its declining membership, delegates at UAW's national convention voted unanimously to amend its constitution to permit it to use part of its over $900 million strike insurance fund for organizing, political action, and other areas.
In a move that likely reflects the United Auto Worker's (UAW) concerns about its declining membership, delegates at UAW's national convention voted unanimously to amend its constitution to permit it to use part of its over $900 million strike insurance fund for organizing, political action, and other areas. Specifically, the amendments allow the union's international leadership to divert up to $60 million from the strike fund in the next four years, as needed, mainly for organizing efforts during the years between conventions. Additionally, the amendments authorize the union to immediately transfer $50 million from the strike fund to the union's general operating fund. The delegates also voted to increase dues rebates when the strike fund exceeds $550 million, giving locals more money for operating costs.
 
UAW's strike insurance fund, designed to assist union locals engaged in UAW-authorized strike activity, has ballooned to a historically high level. However, its operating fund and membership levels have declined significantly in the last few years. Additionally, the union faces a further decline in membership in light of announcements by General Motors Company and Ford Motor Company that they plan to cut about 60,000 factory jobs and close several factories in the upcoming years. Suppliers represented by the UAW are also cutting jobs.
 
While some members voiced concerns about the union's ability to fund a strike, which it has threatened against Delphi if a bankruptcy court permits the auto parts supplier to void its labor contracts, UAW's president said the amended strike fund can support a 153-week strike against Delphi.
 

Employers' Bottom Line:

 
This move by UAW to transfer money from its strike fund for use in, among other things, organizing activities, demonstrates the union's focus on organizing campaigns. Additionally, the UAW's organizing efforts extend beyond the automobile industry and include workers in health care, on college campuses, and in the technical, office and professional sectors. Thus, all employers should be aware that they may be the target of an organizing campaign and should take steps now, before a campaign has begun, to address employee concerns. Ford & Harrison attorneys and consultants can help you "take the temperature" of your workplace and evaluate any potential areas of employee unrest before they escalate.
 
If you have any questions regarding these issues, please contact Jerry Coker, in Ford & Harrison's Atlanta office, at jcoker@fordharrison.com, (404) 888-3820, or the Ford & Harrison attorney with whom you usually work.