Our local union maintains ⅓ of all dues and ⅔ go to the national union. This proportion is democratically voted on by all UE members.
The share of dues going to the national union covers lawyers to file unfair labor practice charges, charges with OSHA, etc.; infrastructure like our database; strategy advice, including trainings for organizers and communications help; connections with other grad unions; expertise; training in how to bargain, and a lawyer in the room if we need it for bargaining; and more.
Local dues are completely under our control. We as a local union might vote to hire a staffer to keep our walkthrough infrastructure active, have a lot of social events, create a hardship fund, print a lot of beautiful literature, and more.
UE is unique in that the locals collect all dues before contributing their portion to the national union. In most unions, this is reversed! UE is also unique in giving a local union total autonomy on how to spend the ⅓ of dues that stay with the local.