UAW turns up effort to organize transplants

By Michael Oneal
Posted Jan. 18 at 9:29 a.m.

United Auto Workers President Bob King dialed up the rhetoric this week in his campaign to organize foreign-owned auto plants based in the U.S.

Speaking at the first day of the UAW’s legislative conference in Washington, D.C., King vowed to step up the union’s effort to organize the transplants owned by companies including Toyota, Honda and Nissan and said the union’s future depended on expanding its membership.

“If we win the transplants, that’s going to help every single member of the UAW,” King said, according to the union’s Web site. “We are going after them with every ounce of energy and resource we have.”

King, who pledged last year to ramp up the union’s organization effort this month, has used recent speaking appearances to lay out the union’s argument that it is a fundamental human right for workers to organize their workplace.

He has decried management strong-arm tactics to discourage organization efforts and pledged to work more closely with cooperative employers to keep them competitive.

“With our unionized employers, we have created a culture of trust, teamwork and openness,” King said in a speech last week, citing the union’s recent efforts to work more closely the Big Three. “We have completely discarded the outdated remnants of the ‘us versus them’ mentality that resulted in rigid work rules and narrow job classifications.”

But, he noted, Asian and European automakers have rejected UAW representation in their plants, despite working with unions at home. “American workers have the same right to form unions as the workers in their home countries,” King said. “American workers, after all, are not second-class global citizens.”

He added: “If a non-union automaker violates workers’ democratic rights and rejects these principles, we will commit the entire resources of our union to expose this company’s anti-democratic behavior.”

In the wake of the recent meltdown and recovery at the U.S. automakers, the union’s membership drive comes at a critical time. UAW membership has been devastated by layoffs and permanent cuts and the union’s clout has slipped.

Moreover, the UAW’s previous efforts to organize the transplants have been anything but successful. The union, which represents the U.S. plants owned by the Big Three U.S. automakers and many suppliers, has never successfully organized a foreign-owned assembly plant. Efforts to organize Toyota and Nissan plants in Gerogetown, KY., and Smyrna, Tenn., failed.

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  1. The dude Jan. 18 at 10:02 a.m.

    There is no better way to send the manufacturing oversees than to unionize.

  2. Chris Jan. 18 at 10:05 a.m.

    Once they start to unionize these foreign owned companies are certain to rip all production right out of America. I wonder what needs to happen before unions get that they have ruined America’s competitiveness?

  3. Lou Jan. 18 at 11:03 a.m.

    Bob King is fighting for Bob King and his position with the UAW. Unions are dying because they have out lived their usefulness and refuse to accept reality.

  4. RC Jan. 18 at 12:30 pm

    King wants to do for the transplants what the UAW did for the old Big 3. The UAW needs to beef up its membership and get rid of the competition in labor. Saying that the UAW is doing this for the transplant workers is a lie.

  5. JF Jan. 18 at 12:37 pm

    Still living in the 1950s aren’t we? Why do you think with the exception of Honda, pretty much all of the transplants are in Right to Work states? Even if they do succeed, the law in those states mean that only workers who choose to join can join weakening they position.

  6. 4ES Jan. 18 at 2:23 pm

    The UAW will force more unemployment and lower the competitiveness of the USA on the global economic scale. Once a manufacturing job moves out of the USA it NEVER returns. That means, only some service functions remain but these are more and more automated and outsourced.

    Where then will USA people work in 10 years from now? It will become one of the poorest nations on earth. Is that what the objectives are of the UAW and self centered politicians?