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UAW May Skip Strike Deadline in Talks With Detroit Big Three

“Creative problem solving” is goal, says union boss Bob King, not confrontation.

by on Apr.26, 2011

The UAW is seeking "creative" solutions, said Pres. Bob King during a meeting with reporters.

The United Auto Workers Union will put the emphasis on “creative problem solving,” rather than confrontation as it reopens contract talks, this summer, with Detroit’s Big Three automakers.

Intent on putting aside the traditional hardball tactics that have defined automotive labor/management relations over the last 75 years, UAW President Bob King said union negotiators may not even set a strike target as they approach their mid-September deadline.  But that would be a limited option anyway, he acknowledged, as terms of the government’s 2009 bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler mean that only Ford could even be threatened with a walkout this year.

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During a meeting of the Detroit Automotive Press Association, the UAW president meanwhile offered both a carrot and a stick to companies like Toyota, who have managed to so far avoid union organizing efforts.  Give workers a fair chance to vote, King promised, and the union will accept the results, win or lose.  But resisting calls for an election, he asserted, could lead to a global boycott.

“Creative problem solving,” said King, “is the ideal we’re both striving for.”  Confrontation, he insisted, was a thing of the past.


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.