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UAW ranks fell 18% in 2009 to post-WWII low

WASHINGTON – The ranks of UAW members fell to a new post-World War II low in 2009 as the bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler led to thousands of manufacturing job losses.

According to its annual report filed with federal overseers today, the UAW had 355,191 members at the end of 2009, a loss of 75,846 members, or 18%, from the 431,037 it reported at the end of 2008. The union’s net assets shrank by $69 million to $1.12 billion.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger was paid $173,065 in salary and other compensation, a slight decrease from the $174,098 he earned in 2008. The union’s overhead costs fell slightly, as did its political lobbying, to $9.7 million from $10.6 million in 2008.

Gettelfinger and the UAW were key players in the GM and Chrysler bankruptcies, convincing the Obama administration to grant the health care trust fund for UAW retirees stakes in GM and Chrysler instead of wiping them out. The UAW also successfully reversed two decisions to close UAW-represented plants.

But both companies shed thousands of workers throughout their plants, and the UAW also lost the only Toyota plant it represented in the United States when the Japanese automaker decided to close its Fremont, Calif., factory. Outside of factories where it was invited in by Detroit automakers under joint ventures, the UAW has only successfully organized one foreign-owned auto plant — the Volkswagen factory in Pennsylvania that closed in 1988.

In recent years it has focused on winning new elections in non-traditional industries, such as casino workers.

The UAW's membership peaked around 1.5 million workers in the 1970s.
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