For the first time in 27 years, the United Auto Workers has hiked the dues that must be paid by its rank and file members. The move was needed to help boost the union's budget, which has suffered as a result of sharp membership losses over the last decade.

UAW delegates passed an increase of 25 percent by voice vote Tuesday during their 36th constitutional convention in Detroit. The hike will cost the average union member an extra $14 a month.

The union's membership has fallen from an estimated 1.5 million in 1979 to just 391,000 today. It was almost 655,000 as recently as 2005. The decline has cost the union substantial revenue and it has run budget deficits of $30 million to $40 million over the last few years, the Detroit Free Press reported.

The hike was controversial and only approved by UAW delegates after a two-hour debate at the convention. Notably, the passage was done by voice vote, not recorded vote.

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