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.

Cammy Corrigan
Cammy Corrigan

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  • 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.

  • ToolGuy Learn to drive, people.
  • Corey Lewis I saw a TVR Griffith 500 (mfd 1990-2002) back in June 2014 at the Ault Park Concours, in a side parking lot. It had plates on it, but was MUCH too new to be in the US, especially so as the 500 was a later model 1993+. Luckily I took pics as proof!
  • Bd2 This is when BMW started to go downhill design-wise...
  • Jalop1991 "...their resale value to be in par with a 80's GM diesel wearing a Yugo badge." Those words, sir, paint a picture.
  • Wjtinfwb "If I had asked idiot traitors what they wanted, they would have said faster horses".... What they wanted, vs. what they'll actually pay for are clearly two different things. It's not hard to want the vision of EV's the Biden admin sold everyone; inexpensive, fast charging with long-range, charging on every corner, minimal impact on the environment. The government delivered none of that. They threw automakers under the bus at the last minute after many of them made huge investment in tech, plants, R&D. Then Biden and his hapless bunch just walked away, built no charging stations, no support for natural resources and doubled down by stoking the labor fires increasing automakers costs substantially. EV's are absurdly expensive for the utility they provide and time is demonstrating their resale value to be in par with a 80's GM diesel wearing a Yugo badge. Sorry, it's not the consumers job to make a fairy tale come true. Making and selling cars is extraordinarily capital intensive, the automakers aren't throwing good money after bad betting on a senile old man who has delivered on none of his promises and is rapidly making himself irrelevant in the national conversation.