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UAW Membership Posts Rare Gain

But is it more than a temporary turnaround?

by on Mar.31, 2011

A 2011 Ford Focus at the Michigan Assembly Plant.

Things haven’t been going well for the United Auto Workers Union in recent years.  The maker has not only had to grant significant concessions to Detroit’s Big Three automakers, but membership has been steadily declining – the result of the Motor City’s decline as well as the impact of productivity gains.

After years of decline, however, things may be turning around.  The UAW has filed its annual report with the U.S. Labor Department, showing the first increase in membership in recent memory – though the union’s rolls remain but a fraction of their one-time peak.

The UAW’s 2010 LM-2 report shows membership increasing from 355,191 in 2009 to 376,612 in 2010.  But that’s still down by nearly half from 2001, when membership stood at 701,818.  The long-influential UAW’s rolls peaked in 1979, when it counted 1.53 million dues-paying members.

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“We are pleased that our membership increased in 2010 by 21,000,” said UAW President Bob King. “This increase is a reflection of new organizing by the UAW, the recovery of the domestic auto industry and UAW members who won a first contract during the year.  We hope to continue this growth in 2011 and beyond, as we fight to win a more fair and democratic process for workers to organize unions in the United States,” he said.


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.”


Unions Target Weakened Toyota

Washington demonstration planned for Thursday.

by on Jan.27, 2010

Plans to close a California plant building this model, the Matrix, along with recent recalls, will have union members out demonstrating against Toyota on Thursday.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the United Auto Workers Union are taking aim at Toyota Motor Corp. while it is reeling from the fallout of its decision to suspend sales of eight of its most popular models due to a safety defect.

Teamster president James P. Hoffa and UAW vice president Bob King will lead a delegation of labor representatives, environmental advocates and consumer protection advocates in a protest outside the Embassy of Japan in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.

The union leaders also plan to deliver a letter to embassy offiicials for Japanese Minister Yukio Hatoyama.  The letter will express concern that Toyota’s plan to shut a plant in California will ultimately hurt America’s perception of Japan.  It calls on the Japanese government to meet with union representatives and with Toyota management, Teamster and UAW officials said. The facility, known as NUMMI,and located outside San Francisco, has been Toyota’s only unionized plant in the U.S.

“After receiving millions in the taxpayer-funded Cash for Clunkers bailout, Toyota plans to close its New United Motors Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) assembly plant in Fremont, CA, which will mean a loss of 5,400 direct jobs and up to 50,000 jobs at suppliers and other supporting businesses. This would be the biggest factory layoff in California since the beginning of the recession,” union officials said in a statement.

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Environmental advocates at the event will express their disappointment that Toyota, a company that markets itself as a leader in emissions reduction, will greatly expand its carbon footprint by shipping vehicles once made at NUMMI back to the U.S. from Japanese plants.