Today the UAW has the largest, most progressive program for retired members in American labor unions. The first resolution addressing retired workers was introduced at the 1951 UAW Convention.
The UAW took its first step toward establishing a formal organizational structure for retirees at its 1957 Convention with its adoption of Resolution 17, “UAW Program for Older and Retired Workers and Other Citizens.”
At the 1966 Convention, Article 53 was adopted by the delegates. This article (now Article 55) provided for the establishment of an organization “a structure that has remained essentially unchanged. The Article created Local Union Retired Workers Chapters, Area Retired Workers Councils and Regional Retired Workers Councils within the International Union and enables retirees to remain active, participating members of the Union.”
Since then, retired UAW members have been entitled to all the privileges of membership except the right to vote in certain elections as detailed in the Constitution. Retirees have representation on Local Union Executive Boards and can vote for local union officers (except stewards or committeepeople) and can vote for delegates to the UAW Constitutional Convention. Retired members are also entitled to continue to receive Solidarity magazine.
Our structure gives UAW retirees a special place in their union. The following sections explain our retiree structure.
Local Union Retired Workers Chapters
Retiree chapters are the heart and soul of the UAW retiree program. Today we have more than 600 retired workers chapters where retirees maintain their friendships and work together to build a stronger union.
Every local with 25 retirees should set up a retired workers chapter and hold regular meetings. Retirees run their own programs, elect their own officers, elect a retiree chairperson to sit on their local union Executive Board and elect delegates to their regional retired workers council. All local retired workers chapters have their own by-laws and conform to the policies of the International Union.
Retired workers chapters establish, in consultation with the local union, any committees within the chapter that are deemed necessary. The chapter committees are appointed by the chairperson of the chapter subject to the approval of the local chapter executive board. Some of the suggested committees are Organizing and Membership, Education, Recreation, Community Services, Civil Rights, Citizenship and Legislative (CAP) and any others that they feel would benefit the chapter.
Area Retired Workers Councils
The UAW has more than 75 regional area councils that are set up by Regional Directors when there are insufficient numbers of retirees to organize chapters. In addition, we currently have 50 international area councils and satellites organized to meet the needs of UAW retirees who have moved to other states and areas in which they have settled in considerable numbers such as the Sunbelt states and other retirement communities.
Satellite centers are extensions of area councils. They serve the same purpose, but due to geographic locations, serve a particular area that is more convenient to a substantial number of retirees living in that area.
Regional Retired Workers Council
Regional Retired Workers Councils provide a chance for retiree delegates from different locals to come together to learn about changing situations and issues that affect everyone.
The UAW has 8 regional retiree councils — one in each geographic region of the UAW. The regional councils are made up of delegates from all of the chapters and area councils in each region.
International Retired Workers Advisory Council
The 24-member International Retired Workers Advisory Council helps guide the work of the UAW Retired Workers Department.
Each regional council elects a member to the Advisory Council. In addition, there are four elected regional area members and 10 appointed members-at-large.
Elected members of the Advisory Council are automatic delegates with voice and vote at the UAW Constitutional Convention.
The International Executive Board consults with representatives of the International Retired Workers Advisory Council concerning retired workers programs and policies and such other matters that affect the welfare of retired members.
UAW Retired Workers Department
At the 1957 UAW Convention, the UAW Program for Older and Retired Workers and Other Citizens was created. The International Retired Workers Fund was established and a number of Local Unions set up Standing Committees for Retiree Programs. In addition, each Regional Director designated at least one international staff representative to work on retiree programs.
Today these International Representatives assigned to the UAW Retired Workers
Department assist each region and drop-in center in the administration and funding of retiree programs. They are also very active in the political arena, especially on issues that affect our growing number of retirees. The International Representatives also attend various chapter and area council meetings to educate and communicate with retired members on current issues and also sit on various boards and committees as well as the UAW Retired Workers International Advisory Council.