The United Auto Workers union wants to boost dues by 25 percent to rebuild its strike fund before entering into contractor negotiations next year.
An increase would affect around 6,000 workers in the Calumet Region, including the 4,100 who worker at the Chicago Assembly Plant in Hegewisch. United Auto Workers union members also work at the Chicago Stamping Plant in Chicago Heights, the Lear Corp. seat factory in Hammond and the Contract Services Group seat sub-assembly supplier in Hammond.
Workers would go from paying two hours' worth of their monthly pay to two-and-a-half hours, the first increase in dues since 1967. A workers making $20 an hour would have to pay $10 more in dues a month.
The goal is to replenish the strike fund, which stood at $930.5 million in 2006 but has since dwindled to $626.9 million.
"A robust strike fund is the strongest deterrent to the employer who does not take the resolve of members seriously," President Bob King wrote in a letter to members. "Many contracts are settled without strikes for just this reason. In recent years, our strike fund has fallen to a point where we must fundamentally change in order to rebuild this strength. The proposed half hour dues will only go to this fund."
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The strike fund has been depleted as UAW membership has shrunk after plant closings, employee buyouts and early retirement. Membership plunged by nearly 25 percent over a two year period after the Great Recession started in 2008.
The union also transferred tens of millions of dollars from the strike fund, including to cover operating expenses and pay for organizing efforts.