Free Press: Marick Masters on UAW growth

In addition to salaries, the UAW on Thursday reported nearly 15,000 new members in 2017 and a budget surplus for the third straight year, marking a steady recovery in recruitment and finances since the Great Recession. The audited report shows the Detroit-based labor union has 430,871 members, up from 415,963 in 2016. This marks the ninth straight year of membership growth. Marick Masters, a Mike Ilitch School of Business professor at Wayne State University, noted that the UAW has grown more than 13 percent since 2015, twice the rate of growth in the motor vehicle and parts industry between 2015 and 2018. However, more members does not necessarily translate into greater power, particularly at the bargaining table, he said. "To gain more power, the union needs to increase its density in key industries where it bargains," he said. "Spreading its members across different industries that are quite different in mission and context presents problems. The task of organizing in auto and parts still looms large. The need to break into the so-called transplants is at the top of the agenda. Breaking this barrier could have a snowballing effect within a key industry and raise union power considerably."

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