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UAW May Get Chance for Vote at VW Plant

Move could prove critical for union’s future.

by on Apr.05, 2013

Workers at the new VW plant in Tennessee may soon vote on union representation.

The United Auto Workers appears to be edging closer to an up or down vote on union representation at the new Volkswagen AG manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee thanks to support from the German Metal Workers union, IG Metall.

IG Metall representatives at Volkswagen, including a member of the company’s supervisory board, have come out in favor of United Auto Workers representation in Chattanooga in a letter that was distributed to workers at the U.S. plant. Union representatives sit on the supervisory boards of German companies and have a critical role in setting company policy.

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With VW’s top American executive also showing a willingness to consider a union bid this could be a breakthrough moment for the struggling union. It has seen membership shrink massively in recent decades due both to downsizing by the Detroit-based Big Three and its inability to organize at foreign-owned “transplant” assembly lines.


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 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.”