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Labor Boss King: UAW is the Union of the 21st Century

Collaboration, not confrontation key, says autoworkers chief.

by on Jun.02, 2011

UAW Pres. Bob King says the union is "reinventing" itself for a new era.

Saying his union is in the midst of “reinventing” itself, United Auto Workers President Bob King strode into the lion’s den, this week, aiming to convince a gathering of Michigan’s most powerful business leaders that the labor movement is not just relevant but useful.

Collaboration, rather than confrontation, has been a key message for King, a one-time fire-breathing orator who has taken a much more laid-back and conciliatory approach since assuming the helm of one of the nation’s most powerful labor organizations last year.

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It was a direction already set by his predecessor, Ron Gettelfinger, who agreed to a series of once-taboo concessions during 2007 contract talks with Detroit’s Big Three, and again during the deep recession that nearly crushed the domestic makers, forcing General Motors and Chrysler into bankruptcy.

“Our union has learned many lessons from this crisis,” King proclaimed, adding that, “We are in the process of reinvesting our union.”


UAW Pres. King Calls Payout to Ford CEO “Morally Reprehensible”

Union leaders gather to set out bargaining strategy.

by on Mar.23, 2011

Ford CEO Mulally's huge pay package draws the wrath of UAW leaders.

United Auto Workers President Bob King ripped into the pay package for Ford Motor Co. chief executive officer Alan Mulally, calling it “morally reprehensible.”

Speaking with reporters following the union’s bargaining convention, King also said he believed Mulally’s pay package was ill-advised.

“I like Alan Mulally. I think he’s done a terrific job,” stressed King, “but I don’t think any CEO is worth $300 million,” a reference to the estimated payout the Ford chief executive received in terms of stock and stock options recently reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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“I think it’s morally reprehensible,” King said. “There is still a lot of poverty in the world,” he said. “I don’t think it helps Ford either,” King said, adding “a lot of people” helped Ford recover as it earned more than $6 billion last year.

The attack on Mulally’s compensation came as a 2011Harris Poll EquiTrend study indicated Ford was the highest-ranked brand among American consumers dethroning Toyota, which fell all the way to fourth behind not only Ford but Japanese rival Honda.


Toyota and UAW Headed for Battle?

Union could target Japanese giant in bid to organize “transplants.”

by on Jan.20, 2011

Organizing the transplants could be critical to the UAW's survival, warns King.

The long-stalled bid to organize foreign-owned “transplant” assembly lines has become the single over-riding priority of the United Auto Workers Union.  And it could be leading to an epic battle between a weakened union and a “damaged” automotive giant.

Two decades ago, the transplants were little more than an after-thought, but these days, with foreign brands controlling more than half the American car market – and a major share of the “imports” actually being built in the U.S. – the organization drive could be essential to the UAW’s survival, acknowledges the union’s new president, Bob King.

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Earlier this month, King fired a warning shot at an automotive conference in Detroit, alerting industry leaders that the UAW will ramp up its recruiting drive – and likely focusing on one key manufacturer to spearhead that effort.  While the choice of a target may take another 90 days, King broadly hinted that Toyota may find itself in the crosshairs.

“This is about whether we survive as a meaningful force in America or not,” said King, during a conference in Washington, D.C.


UAW Under Fire For Backing Korean Trade Pact

UAW Chief King counters the agreement protects American jobs.

by on Dec.08, 2010

"A fat load of nerve"? UAW President Bob King takes heat on trade bill.

UAW President Bob King is coming under fierce attack from inside organized labor for his support of the proposed Korean Free Trade agreement.

Other union leaders, particularly from the International Association of Machinists, are fit to be tied, according to an article on the political web site “Politico.”  The fracas comes at a tough time for King, the new leader of the United Auto Workers Union, who is struggling to find a balance between market realities and rank-and-file demands as the UAW prepares to renegotiate its contracts with Detroit’s Big Three automakers.

“It takes a fat load of nerve for the UAW to be asking others to abandon their long time positions just because the UAW went yellow-belly-flip-flop,”  IAM political director Matt McKinnon said during a meeting at the AFL-CIO this week, according to an account on another web site.

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King announced last week that he would support the agreement after the Obama administration succeeded in negotiating several major concessions on auto sector trade with a nervous South Korean government., The South Koreans offered  the concessions after a military clash with North Korea, which underscored the need for continuing US military support of the Seoul-based government.

“President Obama, Vice President Biden and their administration gave the labor movement, and particularly the UAW, an opportunity to be part of the discussions about this agreement,” countered King.