When Bob King was elected UAW president in June, he did something that was once seen as highly un-American: He swore to give his full attention to the Japanese. At closer look, he just followed the trend: American carmakers had lost more than half of the market to foreign name plates. And the UAW, with a membership of just 350,000 is only a shadow if its former 1.4 million member glory. King wants to get new members where Americans get new cars: from Japanese and other foreign automakers’ plants in the U.S. How does he want to go about it? With good old UAW arm twisting.
According to The Nikkei [sub], the UAW is crafting “a set of guidelines” that will be given to nonunion foreign automakers. If the companies sign on, the UAW pledges to honor nonunion workers’ decisions to join the union or not. How democratic and freedom-loving of them. What if companies refuse? Then the UAW will pull out the big hammer and “expose those companies in any and every way we can until they agree to respect workers’ rights and to rectify their anti-union actions,” King said.
Details of the guidelines or how or to what the companies will be exposed are not available. Judging from the way King put it, that exposure ought to be pretty decent. Indecent exposure cannot be ruled out,
First to answer was the UAW’s main target: Toyota. Steve St. Angelo, an executive vice president who oversees Toyota’s North America engineering and manufacturing, said that Toyota workers are angry over the union’s picketing at dealerships. This according to another story in The Nikkei [sub]. After all, the unions are messing with their jobs. Not a good way to win friends and influence prospective card-carrying members.
“When the UAW pickets our dealerships, our team members get angry because they want to build cars that are their livelihood,” St. Angelo said.
St. Angelo also expressed doubts whether the UAW would be allowed to hold organizing rallies in Toyota plants: “Our workers make the ultimate decision if they want to unionize or not and for the past 25 years they have said no.”
St. Angelo said there have been no new discussions with the UAW and the union probably won’t be allowed to hold in-plant rallies at Toyota, which has a no solicitation policy. “Our team members like it the way it is,” St. Angelo said.
Here is one company that won’t sign those guidelines. How many signatures do you figure King will get, and from whom?