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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.”