Nation & World Briefs 06-04-14 UAW dues to rise 25 percent; first time in 47 years


DETROIT -- Delegates to the United Auto Workers convention have voted to raise dues by 25 percent to shore up the union's finances, the first increase in 47 years.

Representatives from local unions across the nation approved the increase with a show of hands, raising dues from two hours of pay per month to 21⁄2 hours.

About two-thirds of the roughly 1,100 delegates attending the convention in Detroit voted for the increase after more than two hours of debate.

The move will help bolster the finances of the UAW, which for years has been selling assets and raiding its strike fund to pay operating expenses.

It will raise about $15 million per year for the union, but the average longtime auto worker who makes just over $28 per hour will pay around $14 more per month.

Annual dues revenue has dropped nearly 40 percent since 2006 to $115 million as membership dropped 27 percent. The strike fund has fallen from more than $914 million in 2005 to about $627 million at the end of last year.

President Bob King said the increase is needed for the union to build power and keep up efforts to organize Southern auto plants. The bulk of the union's workers are employed by the Detroit Three automakers -- Chrysler, Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co.

The increase would go to bolster the strike fund, but $25 million would be transferred from the strike fund to the operating fund.

Candidates face likely runoff: Locked in a race that won't end, Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran and Tea Party-backed challenger Chris McDaniel pointed toward a possible June 24 run-off after battling to a near-draw Tuesday in a primary that underscored Republican differences. Unofficial returns from 98 percent of the state's precincts showed McDaniel with slightly over 49 percent of the vote in a three-way race and Cochran with slightly less. It takes a majority by one candidate to avoid a run-off. The Mississippi contest easily overshadowed races in seven other states, several of which of which sent GOP establishment-backed candidates into fall campaigns for Senate seats that Republicans have targeted in their drive to gain six seats and a majority.

Judge accused of punching attorney: A Florida judge Judge John Murphy, accused of punching an assistant public defender during an altercation outside a courtroom, will take a temporary leave of absence so he can get anger management counseling. The chief judge of Florida's Eighteenth Judicial Circuit said Tuesday that all of Murphy's cases have been reassigned to other judges. Chief Judge John Harris says the public expects a higher standard of behavior from judges than that which was exhibited by Murphy on Monday.

Gettysburg skull auction canceled: The planned auction of a skull found at Gettysburg that purportedly was that of a Civil War soldier has been canceled following protests, and officials say the remains have instead been donated by the auction company for burial with honors. Estate Auction Co. of Hershey had listed the skull for sale at auction Tuesday in Hagerstown, Md., drawing protests from the U.S. National Park Service in Gettysburg and others. The listing was removed from a public auction website and replaced by a statement saying the auction company was donating the skull to the Park Service. "At the auction company's request, it remains as part of the catalog due to its historical value," the statement said.

Ford unveils lightweight concept car: Ford is giving car buyers a glimpse of the future. The company unveiled a lightweight Fusion sedan in San Francisco Tuesday. The prototype is 800 pounds lighter than a regular Fusion thanks to greater use of aluminum and other materials. The instrument panel is made of carbon fiber and nylon instead of steel, while the rear window is made of the same tough, thin plastic that's on cell phones. Because it's lighter, the car has a smaller engine. Ford won't sell this car anytime soon, partly because lighter materials are more expensive. But the industry is actively researching lighter materials to save fuel.

Syrians vote for president: Against a backdrop of civil war, tens of thousands of Syrians voted in government-controlled cities and towns Tuesday to give President Bashar Assad a new seven-year mandate, with some even marking the ballots with their own blood. The carefully choreographed election was ignored and even mocked in opposition-held areas of Syria where fighting persisted, with some rebels derisively dropping their shoes in a phony ballot box in a show of disgust. Western leaders also called it a sham.

Cites China raising tensions: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said Washington wants to expand its economic ties with Asia, the world's fastest growing region, but warned that China's provocative conduct in the South China Sea raises tensions that are bad for business. Pritzker told American and Filipino business groups today that the United States has overinvested its diplomatic, economic and strategic resources in other parts of the world. She said it was committed to policies "to correct the imbalance and to deepen U.S. engagement" with Asia. Pritzker told reporters that China's deployment last month of an oil rig accompanied by government vessels in waters disputed by Vietnam was "provocative" and contributes to tensions and uncertainty that are bad for business.

Want to leave your comments?

Sign in or Register to comment.