Membership in the United Auto Workers union rose 3% in 2022 to 383,000 as it works to organize workers in battery plants and other electric vehicle components.
Last month, Shawn Fain won a closely contested race against incumbent Ray Curry for UAW president by fewer than 500 votes out of about 140,000 cast. Fain said last week the union was ready to go to war against “employers who refuse to give our members their fair share.”
Membership in the Detroit-based union rose from 372,000 in 2021 but is still down from 397,000 at the end of 2020. At its high, the union had 1.5 million members in 1979. “We’re just getting started,” Fain said in a statement Monday of the new figures.
In December, workers at a General Motors Co-LG Energy Solution battery joint venture factory in northeast Ohio overwhelmingly voted to join the UAW.
The UAW has faced challenges in recent years. In 2020, the UAW agreed to independent oversight to resolve a five-year federal corruption investigation that resulted in the conviction and incarceration of two former UAW presidents, among others.
Fain faces the task of unifying UAW members for what promises to be difficult negotiations this summer and fall with the Detroit Three automakers – Ford Motor Co, GM and Chrysler-parent Stellantis.
Fain has said he will fight for substantial changes to the current master contracts with the Detroit automakers who have reported robust profits during the past four years, mainly thanks to pickup trucks and SUVs that UAW members assemble.
North American operations for the Detroit Three automakers are under pressure as they pour billions into electric vehicles and battery production. All three companies have moved to cut costs, reducing salaried staff or, in Stellantis’ case, idling a U.S. assembly plant.
In 2019, UAW workers at GM went on strike for 40 days before a new contract was ratified, costing the automaker $3 billion. (Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Richard Chang)