Does the United Autoworkers Union still matter?

The World

At their convention today in Detroit, the United Autoworkers Union will elect a new president, ending the eight-year tenure of Ron Gettelfinger. Gettelfinger led the union through one of the most difficult periods in its history. The UAW was once one of the largest and most influential unions in the country, but these days its membership is the smallest it’s been since the end of World War II.

We talk about the union’s past, the transformation it’s undergone during the last few years, and what its future looks like, with Gary Chaison, a professor of labor relations at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts. He says that the union is facing a tough future as it has to reinvent itself as a midsize operation, while its members still expect the benefits of belonging to a major union.

We also hear from Will Marcum, a GM autoworker and a member of the UAW. He’s at the convention where, he says, there is an optimistic feeling about the future.

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