With a tough negotiating session with its traditional employers now complete, the United Auto Workers are turning their focus back to the year’s primary goal: organizing the transplant factories. 2011 was supposed to be the year in which the UAW took down “at least one” foreign-owned auto plant, with the union’s boss even going as far as to say
If we don’t organize the transnationals, I don’t think there is a long-term future for the UAW
But as we found, the UAW is not welcome in the South, where most of the transplant factories are found. And with Honda, Hyundai, Toyota and VW all rejecting the UAW’s advances in some form or another, the union’s options are fairly limited. So instead of taking on the factories directly, the UAW is bringing back a questionable tactic from the days when it was misleadingly bashing Toyota for “abandoning” the NUMMI factory: they are taking the fight to dealerships.
The United Auto Workers union, whose leader has staked its future bargaining power on organizing U.S. plants of Asian and European automakers, plans to start pressuring the companies through dealership campaigns.
Regional UAW representatives trained members about how the campaign will work at UAW Local 2209 on Nov. 19, said Mark Gevaart, president of the local in Roanoke, Indiana. The union hasn’t selected the automaker it will target and didn’t discuss when the drive will begin, he said in a phone interview.
The problem: as mentioned earlier, the UAW has already tried this on Toyota. And at the time, Toyota fired back with a pretty legitimate complaint, arguing
I still don’t understand why they are picketing our dealerships when the dealerships have nothing to do with the workers. Our workers make the ultimate decision if they want to unionize or not and for the past 25 years they have said no… Our team members want to make cars for people to buy. They don’t like it when people try to stop you from buying.
And here’s the funny part: the UAW has admitted that the dealership-picketing tactic didn’t help its cause, as President Bob King put it when he called off the last round of Toyota dealer protests
We said we were going to be the UAW of the 21st century and didn’t feel like that was accomplishing that goal
But hey, why not try it again? What’s the worst that could happen?