UAW Actively Targeting Foreign Car Makers in New Push
That’s the sentiment expressed in a Wall Street Journal article published online today and scheduled to appear in print tomorrow, Jan. 3. According to the article by WSJ reporter Matthew Dolan, UAW president Bob King, who was elected in June 2010, “intends to make a major push this year to organize workers at U.S. plants owned by makers such as Toyota Motor Corp., Volkswagen AG and Hyundai Motor Co.”
The basic gist of the article is King and his union are willing to play nice at the beginning, but will get confrontational if need be. King is promising to picket not only local plants but at foreign corporate headquarters if need be and doesn't care what it costs.
Most of the American automotive manufacturing by foreign car makers takes place in Southern states like Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, which are considered "right-to-work" states, Dolan writes, that historically have been unfriendly to unions, and where unionized workplaces can't compel a worker to join a union or pay the equivalent of union dues. Moreover, there has been almost no call by workers at these plans for unionization.
That’s not stopping King in his fight. He said he would tap the union's strike fund of more than $800 million for the push, calling it the best way to protect his current membership.
Foreign manufacturers might consider this quotation from the article the most chilling: "We have, in many ways, pretty deep pockets in terms of what we're willing to spend. We have really unlimited resources to devote to this. It's unlike anything that's been seen in the UAW in many, many years."
King first hinted at his strategy for the UAW at a speech he made before the Automotive Research Conference in August. During remarks there, he said, “The UAW of the 21st century must be fundamentally and radically different from the UAW of the 20th century. This is a new world, and we must reinvent our union with bold new strategies. The 20th-century UAW was dealing with a market dominated by the Big 3. The 21st-century UAW is dealing with at least the Big 7 and probably more.”
King sees unions like his as a necessary check on corporate greed. In his remarks he also said, “No democracy on Earth can thrive and prosper without democratic unions. The notion of huge multinational corporations with carte blanche — no union to hold them accountable, no union to enforce safety and environmental standards, no union to speak for workers on the job or in the public arena — raises the specter of an Earth laid waste for the benefit and profit of a privileged few who can dominate not only the marketplace but also the political process.”