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UAW Steps Up Efforts to Organize “Transplants”

“We’re not the evil empire,” says new union boss king.

by on Jan.12, 2011

Former UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, with his successor, Bob King.

The United Auto Workers Union is ramping up a broad campaign to organize workers at the so-called transplant assembly lines operated by foreign-based automakers like Toyota, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai.

A goal the union has largely failed to accomplish since the first transplants opened here, a quarter century ago, some believe the latest campaign could be critical to the viability of the UAW itself.

Autoworkers President Bob King first approached European, Japanese and Korean automakers last year to sign a set of principles that would allow organizing elections, supervised by an independent third party.  Otherwise they will face what the union describes as a de-branding campaign’

Two German automakers have indicated they might be willing to consider honoring the union’s demand for neutrality as it attempts to recruit new members at their plants, King said.

“We’ve had discussions with German automakers. But we’ve promised to keep the discussions confidential,” King said, after a speech at The Automotive News World Congress, which is held annually during the North American International Auto Show.

During his speech, King outlined the request for neutrality the union has presented to German, Japanese and South Korean automakers.  “We have to convince them we’re not the evil empire,”  he said. “We’re not looking for a confrontation,” King insisted, adding, “We don’t want an adversarial relationship.”