Automotive News reports Volkswagen Global Works Council General Secretary Frank Patta addressed the 1,100 attendees in Cobo Hall during the first day of the 36th UAW Constitutional Convention in Detroit. Through a translator, Patta urged the union to wage a new fight for the VW factory in Chattanooga, Tenn. — where both unions lost the right to organize workers in a close election back in February — proclaiming the election “was stolen” by outside anti-union politicians and political groups. Finally, he vowed that his works council will continue to back the UAW in all of the latter’s efforts to organize non-union shop floors throughout the Southeastern United States and elsewhere, believing the efforts will see both parties ultimately prevail in their respective goals.
On the sidelines, outgoing union president Bob King was looking for “great, open discussion and debate,” as well as “a unified UAW to come out and fight for the best” for the union’s membership of 390,000. King will be leaving a lot of unfinished business behind once the delegates choose their new president later this week, including particularly among organizing the transplants in the South. The union will also have to navigate successfully through collective bargaining with the Detroit Three next year, where wages and two-tier systems promise rough seas.
Speaking of wages, King took the podium to make the case for increasing dues to help recharge the union’s strike fund, currently sitting at $630 million from its peak of $930 million in 2006. The due increase — the first since 1967 — will add a half-hour of pay per month to the two hours of pay devoted to the union, bringing less than $50 million annually if implemented. The vote to increase dues will take place Tuesday, and will only be voted upon by the convention attendees.
Finally, The Detroit News says the likely future president of the union, UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams, will continue the fight in the South for organization. Williams plans to send Gary Casteel to meet with workers at the Daimler plant in Vance, Ala. — assuming UAW representatives haven’t been evicted by then — to discuss concerns over the slow pace toward holding an election at the plant. While the union may be on shaky ground among the transplants, Williams said the UAW will remain the South for the long-term, and for those who believe otherwise to “get used to” the union’s presence.