United Auto Workers membership grows slightly

Mar 29, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - A filing with the U.S. Department of Labor shows the United Auto Workers' membership grew by nearly 9,000 people last year. 

UAW's membership in 2013 was 391,415, compared to 382,513 in 2012. The union has been steadily adding members since 2009, when General Motors and Chrysler filed for bankruptcy.

Richard Bartz / Wikimedia Commons

It has been a little over a month since a closely watched vote at Volkswagen's plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. By a very close margin, hourly workers at the plant said no to having the UAW represent them.

But that is not the end of things at the VW plant. The UAW appealed the results of the National Labor Relations Board, because of what the union calls a campaign of intimidation by outsiders, including an apparent promise from Tennessee's senator – a promise that has yet to materialize. 

Detroit News Washington Bureau Chief David Shepardson joins us today. 

Listen to the full interview above. 

Pobrecito33 / Flickr

The United Auto Workers is blaming outside interference for its defeat this month in a union election at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

The UAW filed an appeal of that vote today with the National Labor Relations Board.

In the days leading up to the vote, numerous Tennessee politicians threatened to kill millions of dollars of state incentives for an expansion of the plant if the workers voted to unionize.

In the end, plant workers voted down the union by a narrow margin.

Pobrecito33 / Flickr

It's Thursday – time for our weekly check-in with Detroit News business columnist Daniel Howes. 

 He's picking through the rubble of the UAW's bid to unionize workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. We know that VW workers said "no thanks" to the UAW by a vote of 712-626, but what are the deeper implications of that "no" vote? Daniel Howes joined us today. Listen to the full interview above.

Just what do you want your city, your community, to look like? Crowded bustling streets? Quiet, residential homes only? Zoning laws determine these things, and although those two words don't sound altogether exciting, zoning laws are creating debate all over the state. We found out more on today's show.

Then, what was that noise outside today? Did you hear it? Sounded like thunder? Well, in this crazy Michigan weather, we're getting thundersnow. We found out about this winter novelty.

And, we spoke with the man who designed and painted the masks on the U.S. Olympic hockey teams. 

Also, we checked in with Daniel Howes on the UAW bid to unionize workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

And, head to Ford Field on Saturday if you want to be part of a world record. ComePlayDetroit is organizing the world's largest indoor yoga session at the home of the Detroit Lions.

First on the show, the state of Michigan is ending its exclusive contract with the Education Achievement Authority to oversee the worst-performing schools in the state.

Michigan School Superintendent Mike Flangan sent a letter to the EAA saying the state will pull out of its exclusivity agreement with the Authority one year from now.

Martin Ackley is with the Michigan Department of Education. He says the state still intends to use the EAA to help turn around struggling schools.

“Now, this is in no way a statement or an indication of a lack of confidence in the EAA or its academic strategies. This is just an action that needed to be taken in order to provide flexibility and to provide options other than the EAA in which to place these most-struggling schools.”

So, what are the other options the state might use to help failing schools? And what's ahead for the controversial EAA?

Jake Neher, who covers Lansing for the Michigan Public Radio Network, joined us today.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Today’s announcement that General Motors will spend $1.3 billion upgrading plants in Michigan proved to be a little awkward for one of the dignitaries on the dais.

It’s probably not a surprise that Governor Snyder got a few boos from union members in the audience, given that the first anniversary of the governor signing Right to Work into law was just last week.

Perhaps less expected, the Republican governor had to sit and listen as UAW regional director Norwood Jewell praised Snyder’s Democratic opponent in next year’s election.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Some Lansing city workers have a new three year contract.

The Lansing city council gave the final OK to the contract with the city’s UAW employees last night.  

Under the contract, the city’s UAW employees will pay more toward their retirement benefits.   Also, the families of new city employees will not be eligible for health benefits after the employee retires.   The contract also includes a slight pay increase.   

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

In what could be a victory for the Detroit-based United Auto Workers, a union official in Tennessee says a majority of workers at Volkswagen's assembly plant in the state have signed cards favoring the UAW’s representation in creating a German-style works council at the plant.

The official told the Associated Press that the cards are as legally binding as an election by the workers.

More from the AP:

Mike Dugeon's Facebook Page / Facebook

Here's a brief review of what's been happening in the news this week:

Let's talk Medicaid expansion. What happened in Lansing?

The state Senate finally got together and the  government operations committee sent the Medicaid bill and they also sent two hastily drawn up last minute substitutes that are tea party measures, that would cost the state more. 

How are UAW negotiations going?

The state passed right-to-work last December but there's the question of whether it applies to state employees, which is pending before the state Supreme Court. 

What are the developments in the 2014 U.S. Senate race?

Sort of unexpectedly, long time Republican representative Dave Camp is talking about getting into the 2014 race for the U.S. senate. This is for the seat Carl Levin is vacating after 36 years. Now, former Secretary of State Terry Lynn Land has been up until now the only Republican candidate but she's vowing that if Mr. Camp gets in she'll give him a spirited fight. 

A look at the Detroit mayoral race: Duggan v. Dugeon

If it's close at all, it could be weeks before we find out who's facing who. It could be a Florida-recount-style mess. 

To listen to the full discussion, click the link above.

The FBI has just completed a nationwide sweep resulting in the arrest of 150 pimps and the rescue of 105 children who had been forced into prostitution. We took a closer look at human trafficking in our state.

And, we spoke with Leigh Ann Ulrey, one of 30 college graduates to be selected for the Challenge Detroit program.

And, a new House bill could eliminate state income tax. State Representative Bob Genetski joined us to talk about why he thinks income tax is unnecessary.

Also, self-driving cars could be available to consumers within the next 2-3 years, according to Google. We found out what the future of transportation might look like.

First on the show, there was an important handshake this afternoon in Lansing.

UAW President Bob King shook hands with state government officials to officially launch the start of contract talks.

UAW Local 6000's contract with the state expires at the end of 2014. But the state needs to finalize the next contract by the end of this year in order to get it funded in next year's budget. Local 6000 represents 17,000 state employees.

Let's look at what the big issues might be in the negotiations.

Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing bureau chief, joined us today.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio

There was an important handshake this afternoon in Lansing.

UAW President Bob King shook hands with state government officials to officially launch the start of 2013 labor negotiations.

UAW Local 6000's contract with the state expires at the end of 2014. But the state needs to finalize the next contract by the end of this year in order to get it funded in next year's budget. Local 6000 represents 17,000 state employees.

Let's look at what the big issues might be in the negotiations.

Rick Pluta, Michigan Public Radio Network's Lansing bureau chief, joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above.

DETROIT (AP) - The United Auto Workers union says its membership has edged up in the past year after decades of contraction with the shrinking of U.S. auto industry employment.

The Detroit-based union says it reported its 2012 membership figure to the U.S. government Thursday.

The UAW says it had 382,513 members last year, up from 380,716 in 2011. That's an increase of 1,797, or 0.5 percent.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

Let's skip the lawsuits and go straight to the top

That's the idea behind Gov. Snyder's call for the Michigan Supreme Court to rule on the constitutionality of the state's new right-to-work law.Rick Pluta explains where the legal challenges could come from:

One is whether exemptions in the law for police and firefighter unions violate the equal protection clause of the U-S Constitution. Another is whether the state Civil Service Commission has the autonomy under the Michigan Constitution to ignore the right-to-work law.

Opponents of the right-to-work legislation called the governor's move cynical, saying the legislation by-passed the normal committee process when it was written and now the Gov. is asking for it to by-pass the court system. The Supreme Court has a Republican majority of 4-2. It will likely be a 5-2 majority after Snyder appoints another Justice to fill a vacancy.

Ford made $5.67 billion in net income for 2012

It was a good year for the automaker. From the Detroit News:

It was in North America where Ford posted a 10.4 percent profit margin in 2012, and because of that success, 45,800 United Auto Workers hourly members will receive profit-sharing checks worth approximately $8,300, which will be paid in March.

Snow yesterday, rain today

Good conditions for flooding. From the National Weather Service:

An area of rainfall will accompany a warm front through southeast Michigan today... with another round of heavier rainfall expected to arrive tonight. This in combination with the melting snow and rapid runoff on frozen ground will allow area rivers and streams to rise and bring the potential for localized flooding of some low lying and poor drainage areas.

Stateside: Right-to-work legislation takes effect on March 27

Jan 28, 2013
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The following is a summary of a previously recorded interview. To hear the complete segment, click the audio above.

On March 27, Michigan will become the 24th state to adopt right-to-work legislation.

Roland Zullo of the Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and Economy at the University of Michigan and Vincent Vernuccio of The Mackinac Center for Public Policy spoke with Cyndy today about the legislation.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - The United Auto Workers and other labor unions are calling on members to protest before and during Gov. Rick Snyder's third State of the State address in Lansing.

The Republican governor's speech is scheduled for Wednesday evening in the state Capitol.

The UAW and other unions are planning to be outside to protest GOP policies they say are hurting the middle class. They're especially upset about a new law ending requirements that workers pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.

Italian automaker Fiat, already Chrysler's majority owner, has announced plans to acquire another stake in the Detroit car company.

Fiat currently owns 58.57 percent of Chrysler.  The rest is held by VEBA - the Voluntary Employee Beneficiary Association.  The VEBA was given stock in Chrysler in lieu of cash payments to cover union retiree health care costs, which were shifted to the UAW in 2007.

Fiat says it intends to exercise an option for 3.3% of VEBA's stock, for $198 million.

Stateside: UAW President Bob King addresses right-to-work

Dec 11, 2012

Protestors swarm the Capitol as right-to-work rapidly moves through the Legislature.

Among the chanting men and women is UAW President Bob King.

Today he spoke with Cyndy about the problems he sees in right-to-work.

"Right-to-work is trying to undermine unions' ability to serve their members. It isn't good for companies. It's a huge mistake," said King.

He addressed various percentages of union participation.

screen grab / WDIV

In a speech Monday in front of employees from Redford Township’s Detroit Diesel engine factory, President Barack Obama weighed in on Michigan’s impending right-to-work legislation.

About halfway through the President’s address, intended to promote his plan for averting the fiscal cliff, Obama took up the issue of right-to-work, the Detroit Free Press Reports:

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio’s senior political analyst Jack Lessenberry and Detroit News’s Daniel Howes discussed the implications of right-to-work in Michigan.

According to Howes, the right-to-work legislation is representative of the country’s current political divide.

“I view this in the context of the reckoning that is going on in Michigan in terms of its trying to come to terms with its post-war industrial past. The UAW has become dramatically weaker, dramatically smaller. This is indicative of the political divide we’re seeing in our country,” said Howes.

As you probably know, a Titanic battle has been going on for years now over whether to build a new bridge over the Detroit River.

On one side is Governor Rick Snyder, the government of Canada, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, and the chambers of commerce. On the other side, Matty Moroun’s family, the owners of the Ambassador Bridge, who right now have a monopoly on moving billions in heavy automotive components from Detroit to Ontario.

The Moroun family, that is, together with those who support their position because of their money.

"The enemy of my enemy is my friend."    

Sun Tzu, The Art of War

The Detroit Free Press reports that the United Auto Workers union - no friend to Governor Rick Snyder - is considering a deal with billionaire Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun - also no friend to the Governor.

The deal would involve Moroun helping the union pay for ads in support of Proposal 2, which would enshrine labor organizing rights in the state constitution.

Concept NITC Drawing

Mickey Blashfield, Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun's director of government relations and head of the Moroun-financed group "The People Should Decide" released a statement following a report from the Detroit Free Press on a possible deal between the UAW and Moroun.

Nathan Boomey and Brent Snavely of the Detroit Free Press have a report on a "2 for 6" deal between the UAW and Ambassador Bridge owner Matty Moroun. 'You support my proposal.... I'll support yours.' Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton is following up on this report.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Delegates here have heard from Dow Chemical Company, DTE, the AFL-CIO, various Democratic Party officials and Bob King. King is the President of the United Auto Workers and in Michigan, that carries weight.

He told them Michigan delegates that the platform approved by the Republicans at their convention calls for restricting labor’s right to bargain.

“The baby step in my mind is that they’d pass a national ‘Right to Work.’ They want to do much more than that. They want to take away the right from workers to bargain on conditions at work, their pensions, their healthcare.”

User:Brother O'Mara / flickr

Teachers challenge retirement bills

"The first day of classes was also the day Governor Rick Snyder approved some big changes to how teachers and other public school employees will save for retirement. The new law will require teachers to pay more for retirement benefits. New employees will no longer get retirement health care coverage, but a savings account to help them buy insurance. Teachers unions are already in court to challenge the law.  A judge in Ingham County struck down part of the law within a few hours of the governor signing it. Judge Rosemary Aquilina said retired teachers deserve more time to choose whether they will pay more for their existing benefits, or choose reduced benefits. The new law gave them a month and a half to make their decision," Rick Pluta reports.

Special primary election today in southeast Michigan

"Five Detroit-area Republican candidates are competing for the chance to serve the final weeks of former U.S. Rep. Thaddeus McCotter's term in Congress. A special GOP primary election is being held Wednesday to pick a candidate to face Belleville Democrat David Curson in the Nov. 6 special general election. The winner of that race will serve only from mid-November until the end of the year. A separate contest on the Nov. 6 ballot will decide who fills the seat for the next two years. Republican ex-teacher Kerry Bentivolio faces Democratic Canton Township Trustee Syed Taj in that race. McCotter resigned this summer during an investigation of irregularities in the nominating petitions that kept the Livonia Republican from seeking re-election. Three former aides are charged with scheming to submit false signatures," according to the AP.

UAW president to address the DNC tonight

"United Auto Workers says union President Bob King is scheduled to address the Democratic National Convention. The Detroit-based union says King will speak this evening during the event in Charlotte, N.C. The UAW says 89 of its members are delegates to the convention," according to the AP.

User IFCAR / Wikimedia Commons

In mid-September, General Motors will temporarily close the Detroit-Hamtramck plant that makes the Chevrolet Volt for about a month.

via Walter P. Reuther Library / Wayne State University

The UAW remembered the 75th anniversary of the “Battle of the Overpass” Friday.

Many union members see the event as a pivotal point in Detroit--and national--labor history.

On May 26th, 1937, UAW President Walter Reuther and other union leaders were trying to organize workers at the massive Ford Rouge plant in Dearborn.

A confrontation ensued, and some union leaders were badly beaten by members of Henry Ford’s security team.

Bernie Ricke is President of UAW Local 600, which represents Ford Rouge workers today.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Protesters lined a busy thoroughfare in Troy Tuesday evening.

Attendees pulling into the parking lot at the San Marino Club for the Ronald Reagan Memorial Dinner were booed by the protesters, who were there to protest Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s appearance at the Oakland County Republican fundraiser.

Spring has sprung; 99% spring events are coming

Apr 2, 2012
Valerie O'Rourkefrom the 99% Spring Blog / from the 99% Spring Blog

Earlier this year, we told you about The 99% Spring, the protest movement sponsored by a variety of political and labor groups including, the United Auto Workers and the Teamsters Union.

It’s part of a fresh wave of protests that are taking place across the country, in the wake of the Occupy movement.

Starting next week, 99% Spring events will be kicking off across the United States, and especially in the Midwest.

Supporters are vowing to train 100,000 people to “to tell the story of what happened to our economy, learn the history of non-violent direct action, and use that knowledge to take action on our own campaigns to win change.”

Over the weekend, the UAW sent an email to its members, encouraging them to take part.

“We are at a crucial point in America where if we continue to ignore the opportunity to rebuild this great country, then we risk losing the very essence of what has made this country great,” the email said. 

Some 918 events have been scheduled thus far., which is associated with the Democratic Party, has a locator for events, where you can put in your zip code and find those closest to you.

Here are the ones for the Detroit area, Chicago and Milwaukee, and Cleveland. To be sure, the 99% Spring movement hasn’t said what will happen once people are trained, but given the training events, it’s pretty clear it will meet its goal of training 100,000 people.

Are you planning to take part in 99% Spring? Let us know where and when.

United Auto Workers President Bob King says a coalition of unions will push for an amendment to the Michigan Constitution that bars so-called "right-to-work" legislation outlawing contracts that require employees to join unions.

Republicans who control the state Legislature have been pushing for a law that would ban labor agreements with mandatory union dues. Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has said the issue is not a priority for his administration.

King told about 1,000 people at the UAW's national convention in Washington on Thursday that a union coalition will push for a November ballot issue protecting the right to have union shops.

The Detroit News reports King says unions agreed on the drive at a meeting Wednesday. He says they'll seek 500,000 signatures, about twice what's needed.