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United Auto Workers considers first dues hike since 1967

| Monday, Dec. 2, 2013, 9:30 p.m.

DETROIT — The United Auto Workers is considering increasing membership dues by 25 percent, the first increase since 1967, as its membership dwindles and costs rise, a top UAW official and several union sources said.

The UAW, the richest American union with $1 billion in assets, is one of the most politically influential, contributing to the campaigns of Democratic politicians from the state level to presidential candidates. However, the union's influence and finances have waned as membership has fallen 30 percent since 2005 to 382,500 members — a far cry from its peak of about 1.5 million members in 1979.

UAW leaders are considering increasing dues to the equivalent of 2.5 hours per month, up from two hours per month for hourly workers in the automotive industry as well as governmental, nursing, academic and other fields represented by the union, several people familiar with the discussions said.

A veteran UAW-represented worker at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., or Fiat's U.S. unit Chrysler making $28.125 per hour pays union dues of $56.25 per month. That would rise to $70.32 per month. A recently hired worker making $15.78 per hour could experience a rise to $39.45 per month from $31.56.

Jimmy Settles, UAW vice president and the top union official for workers at Ford, emphasized that the increase in dues is “only in the discussion phase. No decision has been made.”

Settles said it was not clear whether the possible dues increase would be decided by the UAW's leadership or by a vote of members, perhaps at the union's convention in June.

The dues discussion arises as the union tries to organize workers at foreign-owned automotive plants, including the Volkswagen AG plant in Chattanooga, Tenn.

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