UAW Membership Hits 14-Year Low Amid Organizing Push

Membership has been falling from the 1970 peak of 1.5 million, landing at 370,000 in 2023.


The United Auto Workers (UAW) membership numbers have dwindled to 370,000 in 2023, marking a 3.3% drop from the previous year and the lowest level since 2009, the union reported to the U.S. Labor Department, according to Reuters.

The membership numbers dropped from 397,000 in 2020 and the peak of 1.5 million members in 1970.

Despite this decline, the UAW is not standing still; the union has launched an ambitious initiative to organize the non-union auto assembly sector across the U.S., targeting operations owned by global giants such as Volkswagen, Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai.

The UAW's concerted effort to expand its influence comes at a time when the union has achieved significant victories, securing record new contracts with major American automakers General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.

However, the true test will be the upcoming unionization vote at Volkswagen's Chattanooga, TN, plant, set for April 17-19. The UAW has previously faced obstacles in similar efforts, especially in southern states where political and legislative environments are often less favorable to union activities.

Pablo Di Si, head of Volkswagen's North American operations, told Reuters the company was holding a neutral stance in the upcoming vote. "Being neutral does not mean being silent," he said, saying the company would correct misinformation so employees can have the facts "and make their own decision."

This forthcoming vote is not just a local matter but has broader implications for the UAW's national strategy, particularly in an election year when UAW members' support is highly sought after by political figures, including President Joe Biden and Donald Trump.

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