United Auto Workers

Formation and Growth of UAW
– Founded as part of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in the 1930s
– Rapid growth from 1936 to the 1950s
– Played a major role in the liberal wing of the Democratic Party under Walter Reuther’s leadership
– Known for gaining high wages and pensions for automotive manufacturing workers
– Decline in membership due to automation, decreased labor use, mismanagement, and increased globalization

UAW Industries, Membership, and Headquarters
– UAW members work in industries including autos and auto parts, health care, casino gambling, and higher education
– Headquartered in Detroit, Michigan
– More than 391,000 active members and over 580,000 retired members in over 600 local unions
– Holds 1,150 contracts with some 1,600 employers
– Assets amounting to $1,026,568,450

UAW’s Early Struggles, Successes, and World War II
– Founded in May 1935 in Detroit, Michigan, under the American Federation of Labor (AFL)
– Formed as part of the rival Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO)
– Found success with sit-down strikes in General Motors and Chrysler plants in the late 1930s
– Faced resistance from Ford Motor Company and used brute force to keep the union out
– Communist faction within the union provided key organizers, but Reuther formed an anticommunist current
– UAW made a no-strike pledge to support the war effort during World War II
– Organized new locals in tank factories and airplane manufacturers, reaching over a million members in 1944
– Lillian Hatcher became the first Black female international representative of the UAW in 1944

Leadership and Achievements under Walter Reuther
– Reuther elected president in 1946 and served until his death in 1970
– Focused on total annual wages instead of shorter work hours
– Negotiated contracts with the Big Three automakers, leading to high wages, paid vacations, and benefits
– Negotiated industry-first contracts such as the Treaty of Detroit with General Motors
– Expanded UAW’s scope to include workers in other major industries like aerospace and agriculture
– UAW leadership supported New Deal Coalition programs, civil rights, and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society

Decline, Corruption, and Reform
– UAW membership fell from 1.5 million in 1979 to 540,000 in 2006
– Membership fell further to 390,000 active members in 2010
– UAW faced layoffs and automotive industry crisis in the late-2000s recession
– UAW leadership granted concessions to win labor peace
– UAW faced corruption scandals and conducted a corruption probe in 2020
– UAW has reached settlements with the federal government to reform and end corruption and fraudSources: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Auto_Workers