By on July 20, 2011

After the UAW threatened to start 2011 with a bang by going after foreign-owned “transplant” factories and accusing uncooperative firms of human rights violations, the union’s campaign suddenly went quiet earlier this year. With the union’s fate apparently hanging in the balance, all we’d heard was a polite “no thanks” from Honda and a more subtle message from Hyundai, and little else. Was the war still on, we wondered? UAW boss Bob King tells Reuters that yes, it definitely is… sort of.

To our pleasant surprise a lot of companies have agreed to confidential discussions with us. What they’ll lead to, I don’t know. Some days I’m worried, some days I’m frustrated. Are we putting too much hope into these discussions? I don’t know, but we’re continuing them and we feel like we’re making some progress

And that’s not all…

While not identifying any of the companies, UAW secretary-treasurer Dennis Williams said this week the union was making “great inroads” in its organizing efforts.

“You’re going to see before the end of the year a campaign or a plant being organized,” he said.

Oh, that’s an “or”… which means it’s actually a step back from King’s earlier position that he “expects to organize at least one non-union automaker this year.” So now the union will either successfully organize a plant by the end of the year… or try to organize one and fail.

King probably thought the transplant organizing campaign would make the union look strong going into negotiations with the Detroit automakers, but at this point the transplants will probably wait to see how those play out before even considering letting King’s organizers in (if they’re even considering it). After all, if the UAW is reasonable with the Detroit 3, the transplant workers will see no reason to join up… and if the union fights hard, the transplant managers will feel justified in barring them the door. A Catch 22 to be sure… and King’s already signaling which way he’ll be leaning, telling the AP [via Google]

Our members deserve a fair share of the upside more than, in my opinion, what the current profit-sharing formula would pay out. If we’re willing to take more flexible compensation instead of just putting in fixed costs, we should do better than we would have done [under the current profit-sharing plan]

We have said very strongly and very consistently that there’s no justification for further concessions. There’s got to be a program that’s viable, that allows our members their fair share of the upside.

As the UAW-Detroit Three negotiations kick off, you can bet that transplant managers and workers alike will be watching the proceedings with some interest.

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13 Comments on “UAW Talking To “A Lot” Of Transplants, But Soft-Pedals Goal...”


  • avatar
    mikey

    I said it before ,and I’ll say it again. There wil be no UAW sanctioned work interuption in the USA this year.

    • 0 avatar
      alfabert

      For everybody’s* sake, let’s hope Bob King will be able to navigate hazards on all sides and act as smart in 2011 as our Mikey already is.

      If not, then another weak prop will get kicked out from under the fragile US/Canadian economy just in time for the 2012 elections.
      (*the Koreans and the Chinese may not be among short-term beneficiaries of Mr. King’s skills, if he successfully uses them.)

      I last owned a Detroit 3/UAW car: 1976
      I last owned a non union car: 1995

  • avatar
    Rob

    “Our members deserve a fair share of the upside more than, in my opinion, what the current profit-sharing formula would pay out.” The workers fair share of the upside is that they get to keep their jobs – for now. With unemployment around 9 percent, they should be thankful that they still have a job considering that the UAW reduces the competitiveness of the companies they work for.

  • avatar
    PlentyofCars

    Their rhetoric is so over the top, it is hard to be convinced of anything they say.
    Human rights violations! Really?

    It does a disservice to real human rights violations. People will hear of real violations and just yawn with disbelief, after listening to spoiled whiners all the time, who cannot get everything they want.

  • avatar
    joe_thousandaire

    I’m beginning to think that like any decent politician Bob King doesn’t believe most of the crap that comes out of his own mouth. I’ve read his bellicose quotes and his fire-and-brimstone proclamations, and I’ve also seen him away from the podium in one-on-one interviews where he seems like a reasonable, logical man, even somewhat likeable. He tells the drooling UAW rank-and-file what they want to hear, gets his rah-rahs and his sieg heils (if B.K. can do the Nazi thing I can too) but in the end he’ll likely maintain the status quo, avoid work-stoppages, and never come close to unionizing the transpants.

  • avatar
    Type57SC

    “To our pleasant surprise a lot of companies have agreed to confidential discussions with us. What they’ll lead to, I don’t know. Some days I’m worried, some days I’m frustrated. Are we putting too much hope into these discussions? I don’t know, but we’re continuing them and we feel like we’re making some progress”

    Are you sure this wasn’t a misplaced quote from the Saab CEO. Sounds about as promising.

  • avatar
    don1967

    Our members deserve a fair share of the upside

    There’s that F-word again. As if the employees are shareholders who risked their own personal capital to fund the business.

    Unions never change. What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is ours.

  • avatar

    Is it derogatory to keep referring to them as the transplants?

  • avatar
    gslippy

    These guys (King and the UAW thugs) are like date-rapists who don’t understand that “no” means “no”.

    And like I’ve said before, where is the public outcry about the human rights abuses at all these automakers? The silence is deafening.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Is Mr. King insinuating that the companies will somehow assist in the decision to unionize made by workers? He’s not getting a UAW sign on the building without member participation.
    I do think Bob is in a position to paint a rosy scenario around this. What is he supposed to say,? “We have not a hope in hell of expanding into more companies”


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