UAW OKs provisions to lower union dues, hike president's pay

Nora Naughton
The Detroit News

Detroit — United Auto Workers members have a path to lower dues for the first time since a controversial hike four years ago.

The UAW re-affirmed a 2014 dues increase at the 37th Constitutional Convention here Tuesday, with a new caveat that could lower dues later. The union also approved a nearly 31 percent pay raise for its next president.

UAW delegates approved a modification to the historic 25 percent dues increase in 2014 — the first since 1967 — that's tied to the balance in the International Union Strike and Defense Fund.

When that fund reaches $850 million, dues will decrease to pre-2014 levels. But if the fund decrease to $650 million after the dues have decreased, the increase approved in 2014 stands again.

UAW members currently pay monthly dues equivalent to 2.5 hours of straight-time pay for hourly workers, or 1.44 percent of gross monthly pay for salaried workers. That's an increase from 2 hours of pay and 1.15 percent of gross monthly pay before the increase agreed to at the 2014 Constitutional Convention.

Delegates wanted to know how long it would take for the strike fund to reach $850 million, as they're anxious to see dues fall back to pre-recession levels.

The path to $850 million is unclear, though.

At the start of the year, the fund held a little over $720 million. That's compared to an all-time low of $596.7 million in 2014. The strike and defense fund has grown by $50 million on average every year since since the dues increase in 2014, an effort that can level off when the fund reaches the $850 million benchmark.

Union leaders can also spend up to $60 million from the fund on organizing and defense efforts between conventions, though the withdrawals haven't exceeded $50 million in recent cycles, according to a spokesman.

A pay raise for the union president, which received considerable support by delegates, changes the president's annual pay scale from a flat $153,248.29 to a pay rate of 1.8 times the annual salary of representatives, who also get a pay raise.

Based on the $111,476.15 salary for representatives in the newly approved resolution, (an increase from the current $105,076.96), the president's salary would top $200,000.

Twitter: @noranaughton