UAW Membership Drops 7 Percent In 2008

United Auto Workers union lost 33,873 members during the past year, bringing it down to levels not seen since World War II when the UAW had fewer than 500,000 members.

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Membership in the United Auto Workers union declined 7 percent in 2008 to more than 431,000 workers, according to a Labor Department report.

The report filed Monday said the union lost 33,873 members during the past year, bringing it down to levels not seen since World War II. The UAW had fewer than 500,000 members in 1941 but by 1945, it had boosted its membership beyond 1 million.

UAW membership peaked in 1979 at 1.5 million members.

The union has been hard hit by plant closings and job cuts by Detroit's automakers. According to the Labor Department, the union had more than 700,000 in 2001.

Union officials, however, have said the membership levels cited by the Labor Department give a false impression of the union's size. In 2007, for example, they said the UAW represented 512,000 members. Messages were left Tuesday with UAW officials.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger received a salary of $157,117 in 2008, a 4 percent raise over the previous year, according to the Labor Department.

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