UAW: It's Good To Be The King - Maybe Not For Toyota

Cammy Corrigan
by Cammy Corrigan

Ron Gettelfinger retired and Bob King took his place as President of the UAW. Mr King has some pretty big shoes to fill, but the name is a good start. After all, Mr Gettelfinger helped persuade President Obama to bail our GM and Chrysler (can’t say I blame him, quid pro quo, and all that). So what can Mr King do to really show the rank and file that he means business? Better working conditions? Input into designing cars? More job security? Nope. His next step is to make sure that Detroit and the transplants are evenly matched, so to speak.

Business Week reports that Bob King has made organizing the U.S factory workers of Toyota his “Number 1 priority”.

“If we don’t support Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Hyundai, Kia and all the non-union plants by supporting the right to organize, we cannot win back the concessions we have given up,” King said in his first address today to delegates at the UAW’s constitutional convention in Detroit. “The only way we can get back what we’ve sacrificed is by coming up with a comprehensive strategy to rebuild the power of the UAW.”

While he was at it, Mr King took a verbal swing at Toyota’s current scion, Akio Toyoda, by talking lambasting Toyoda’s decision to push forward with a non-union plant in Mississippi whilst at the same time shutting down NUMMI. “The only reason they closed that plant is because it was a UAW plant,” King said. “Mr. Toyoda, if you care about safety and quality in America, you’ll go back to Fremont and build Corollas there and not in Mississippi.” UAW’s King missed the part about GM dumping NUMMI on Toyota via the bankruptcy Mr King’s predecessor helped usher in. He may have missed that Mississippi is as of now a part of America. But let’s not sweat the details.

More virtual violence followed: “We’re going to pound on Toyota until they recognize the First-Amendment rights of workers to come into the UAW,” King told over 1,000 union delegates.

If the UAW, almost certainly with President Obama’s good wishes, press forward with their plans to “liberate” the good people of the oppressive regimes of Toyota, and by inclusion, Nissan, Honda et al, then something has to give. As mentioned before, Le Chatelier’s principle tells us that if an equilibrium is shifted, then the whole equilibrium will shift with it to maintain stability. The transplants like things the way they are, if the UAW want to change this equilibrium, then the transplants may have to shift to achieve stability. And I’m guessing the acronym “NAFTA” might help them do that.

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4 of 38 comments
  • Cmcmail Cmcmail on Jun 22, 2010

    Isn't there a massive conflict of interest when the part owner of 2 Companies vows to organize the labor at his competitors?

    • Len_A Len_A on Jun 22, 2010

      First, technically the UAW does not own part of GM & Chrysler. The health care trust. The Voluntary Employee Benefit Trust (VEBA) does, the the VEBA's management is fire-walled separate from the union administration itself, including the use of outside directors and investment advisers. Secondly, there is no legal conflict of interest. There is really nothing to stop them from trying to organize any competing business. Trying to organize doesn't mean they will have success. Third, The UAW VEBA's have promised to sell off their ownership the first chance they get. Right now they have no way to do it before the companies IPO's. Proof that they're serious is that that they already sold off their shares in Ford, over a month ago.

  • Cmcmail Cmcmail on Jun 24, 2010

    Would you want a team of workers whose retirement income is dependent on not your success, but that of your competition, operating your machinery and building your product? Who would be getting the short straw when it came to "strike time" or "union action"

    • Len_A Len_A on Jun 24, 2010

      I'm not certain what you mean by your post.

  • Bd2 The hybrid powertrain in the Sportage and Tucson are the ones to get.H/K should discontinue the base NA 2.5L powertrain and just build more of the hybrid.In the future, maybe offer a 2nd, more powerful hybrid (the hybrid 2.5) which will first arrive with the next Telluride/Palisade.Kia also needs to redo the front fascia for the Sportage's refresh.
  • The Oracle I say let the clunkers stay on the roads.
  • Jpolicke Twenty-three grand for a basket case? And it has '66 wheel covers and gas cap so who knows what else isn't original?
  • Scott Can't be a real 1965 Stang as all of those are nothing but a pile of rust that MIGHT be car shaped by now.
  • 56m65711446 So, the engineers/designers that brought us the Pinto are still working at Ford!