UAW Membership Shrinks During 2000

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

( - One of America's oldest major labor unions, United Auto Workers said Tuesday in its annual financial report that membership dropped by more than 90,000 in 2000. Union officials attribute the loss to automakers along with their major suppliers eliminating blue-collar jobs.

The UAW said at the end of 2000, they had 671,853 members down from 762,439, the year before. It is the second year in a row that the UAW's membership declined. In 1999, membership dropped by almost 10 percent.

Because of the decline in membership due to a decline in U.S. manufacturing jobs, the UAW over the past several years has begun organizing workers outside the auto industry by targeting universities, hospitals and gambling casinos.

The AFL-CIO declined comment when asked Wednesday about their membership numbers.

However, on its website, the AFL-CIO said "union membership rose by more than 265,000 in 1999 - the largest annual increase in 20 years, according to a federal Bureau of Labor Standards report. The number of union members in the United States rose from 16.21 million to 16.48 million and the percentage of U.S. workers who belong to unions remained steady at 13.9 percent, reversing a trend of decline."

"Union membership increased by 112,493 in the private sector in 1999, nearly double the size of the only other such annual increase in two decades. The percentage of private-sector workers who belong to unions remained steady, ending a 20-year decline. Union membership in the public sector grew by 152,788, with the percentage of public-sector workers who are union members dipping slightly, from 37.5 percent to 37.3 percent," the AFL-CIO statement said.

Meanwhile, the National Right To Work Foundation said Wednesday that a cement factory worker filed federal charges against a Bakersfield, California affiliate of the Teamsters union, seeking to force union officials to stop their illegal practice of funneling compulsory union dues into politics.

NRTW said, "The Vulcan Materials Company cement factory employee, Gordon Merkley, sought legal help from National Right to Work Foundation attorneys after officials of Teamsters Local 87 threatened to have him fired from his job for refusing to support the union's political campaigning and lobbying activities."

"Teamsters bosses harassed and threatened Gordon Merkley simply because he exercised his right not to fund the union's political machine," said Randy Wanke, Director of Legal Information for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.

The federal charges, filed with the National Labor Relations Board against Local 87, state that union officials violated the foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Communications Workers v. Beck decision, which held that workers who resign their union memberships may withhold any union dues used for politics and other non-representational activities. As a nonmember of the union, Merkley can only be required to pay for union activities directly related to collective bargaining," NRTW said in a statement.

Foundation attorneys are demanding that union officials immediately return any forced union dues illegally seized from employees.

Teamster union officials had no comment.