Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

Bloated Budgets and Sagging Membership

The United Auto Workers (UAW) hit two records last year – the lowest number of active members since the great recession and the highest amount of money spent on staff salaries in that same time period.

A careful analysis of the UAW’s most recent financial filings with the Department of Labor reveals that the union spent over $86 million on gross salary disbursements to its officers and employees in 2023, while its membership fell to the lowest level since 2009. 

Laid out on a graph, the numbers are jarring. Today the UAW has over 500 staff members and officers receiving six-figure salaries. Some six-figure-earning union officers even pay their executive assistants six-figure salaries.

Salary is only part of the story for the UAW’s spending spree. The union’s overall expenses have grown to the nine-figure sum of over $470 million – the highest number digitally recorded by the Department of Labor. This includes millions of dollars spent on lawyers, public relations consultants, and luxury hotels. Last year, the national headquarters even spent $70,000 on a golf outing. 

This data puts the UAW’s current organizing campaign into a new perspective. With membership declining and salaries exploding, the union needs new members to pay into the system fast. It takes the dues payments of an estimated 80,000 autoworkers to support those staffers and officers alone, which is tough to do with the Big Three laying off workers left and right. Without new paychecks to siphon dues from, those 500+ union staffers making six figures might need to get real jobs. 

Categories: UAW