UAW: Sign Here, Or We'll Expose You In Any And Every Way

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

When Bob King was elected UAW president in June, he did something that was once seen as highly un-American: He swore to give his full attention to the Japanese. At closer look, he just followed the trend: American carmakers had lost more than half of the market to foreign name plates. And the UAW, with a membership of just 350,000 is only a shadow if its former 1.4 million member glory. King wants to get new members where Americans get new cars: from Japanese and other foreign automakers’ plants in the U.S. How does he want to go about it? With good old UAW arm twisting.

According to The Nikkei [sub], the UAW is crafting “a set of guidelines” that will be given to nonunion foreign automakers. If the companies sign on, the UAW pledges to honor nonunion workers’ decisions to join the union or not. How democratic and freedom-loving of them. What if companies refuse? Then the UAW will pull out the big hammer and “expose those companies in any and every way we can until they agree to respect workers’ rights and to rectify their anti-union actions,” King said.

Details of the guidelines or how or to what the companies will be exposed are not available. Judging from the way King put it, that exposure ought to be pretty decent. Indecent exposure cannot be ruled out,

First to answer was the UAW’s main target: Toyota. Steve St. Angelo, an executive vice president who oversees Toyota’s North America engineering and manufacturing, said that Toyota workers are angry over the union’s picketing at dealerships. This according to another story in The Nikkei [sub]. After all, the unions are messing with their jobs. Not a good way to win friends and influence prospective card-carrying members.

“When the UAW pickets our dealerships, our team members get angry because they want to build cars that are their livelihood,” St. Angelo said.

St. Angelo also expressed doubts whether the UAW would be allowed to hold organizing rallies in Toyota plants: “Our workers make the ultimate decision if they want to unionize or not and for the past 25 years they have said no.”

St. Angelo said there have been no new discussions with the UAW and the union probably won’t be allowed to hold in-plant rallies at Toyota, which has a no solicitation policy. “Our team members like it the way it is,” St. Angelo said.

Here is one company that won’t sign those guidelines. How many signatures do you figure King will get, and from whom?

Join the conversation
3 of 59 comments
  • Zas Zas on Aug 06, 2010

    Depending on your point of view, this may or may not be off-topic, so here goes... Zenith. A brand every American who is older than 35 years of age, will recognize as an American company that produced electronics for many years, most of them using leading edge technology that no other company had for it's time. Circa 1948: Zenith produces it's first consumer TV sets, leaders of such innovations as "Wireless remote controls" and Flat-faced picture tubes over the next 40 years. Circa 1980's: struggling against the Japanese, who were producing cheaper sets, Zenith started shedding off assets of it's divisions to stay afloat. In 1990, it sold a partial (5%) stake in it's company to LG, until LG bought Zenith out of bankruptcy in 1999. Today: LG (for those who are old enough and remember the Goldstar brand name from years previous) owns all rights and patents to all of Zenith's technologies developed through the years. So, what was Zenith's fall attributable to? I dont know, but this is what my cousin relayed to me while he worked there in the early 90's: My cousin worked in R&D for the company in the early 90's, at it's Glenview, IL center before it got shut down. I remember him commenting on the union laborers who made more money than he did, although he had a college degree and was working on his Masters in industrial design. He confessed that it sickened him to year that an unskilled worker, who had been there for 30 years, on the line, made almost 3 times as much as he did for producing the same kind of material good that cheaper labor in Mexico was doing with a lower failure/breakage rate. He had over-heard management saying that they needed to cut costs in order for the company to remain competitive, but the union was preventing them from doing so due to the collective-bargaining contracts that were set in place. He feared that HIS job would be lost, not because of brand name, but because costs had become so escalated that Zenith was preparing to move all operations out of the country in order to survive into the late 90's. Well, we all know what happened in 1999, and that year, we saw the end of Zenith as we knew it, here in Chicago. Could the unions be partially blamed? When cheaper labor costs in Mexico allowed Zenith to produce the same goods down there before the bankruptcy, then one has to wonder how the union was even relevant back then. Yes, they did help the American work-force AT ONE TIME. Those times are over, and they need to become progressive if they want to stand a chance of surviving. SEIU aside, even those employers are now getting a clue and doing pro-active and positive things for their employees before they realize that their shop could go full-out union. Then again, the SEIU hasn't helped the workers at the Hyatt-Regency Chicago recently, when they walked off the job and caused head-aches for hundreds of hotel guests and their families. I know of one traveler who said he'll never stay at a unionized hotel ever again after that fiasco. Kinda sounds like what the unions are doing at the Toyota dealerships: causing strife and more issues than actually solving the problems at hand. So yeah, when has a union been good lately to add value to an employer's bottom line, especially when the economy has been in the toilet for as long as it has?

    • Silvy_nonsense Silvy_nonsense on Aug 07, 2010

      I agree, unions are their own worst enemy. The Boeing Machinist's Union played chicken with Boeing and lost big time. Even when it was clearly obvious that Boeing could and would choose to build a new assembly plant in South Carolina if the Washington union didn't become less combative, the union didn't back down from their childish positions and royally screwed itself in the process. New, good paying jobs, lots of construction activity and increased local tax revenue all in South Carolina and all thanks to the aggressive combativeness of unionized Boeing workers in Washington. Remove gun from holster. Aim at foot. Pull trigger. Solidarity, even if it kills us!

  • Shane A. Abel Shane A. Abel on Aug 15, 2010

    You guys talk about how Toy car treats its workers so well and they are so happy about everything... First of all if GM workers had started at 14 an hour toyota employees would be making 13 or less, second people at GM have complete "Cadillac" healthcare plans, defined benefit pensions, and older employees make 28 an hr, to get this people literally lost lives, Toyota workers make $27 and that's it, it isn't "extorsion," this being one of the single most idiotic comments I've ever heard in my entire life. Extorsion is take this awful job that should be paying alot more or go screw yourself because there are no other options for you. The idea that a BS "market system" approach would do better for people because "the skilled workers would go somewhere else where they are treated more fairly" makes zero sense, consider the fact that business owners are usually well acquainted, chambers of commerce, conventions and etc. they can just decide that they will all pay the same crap awful wage now where are you going to go... They don't pay "out of the goodness of their heart" they don't give a crap about their employees, they are just another part in the machine. Toyota has already had reports about how they want to start cutting costs now that GM's older employees are getting buyouts, and younger employees are coming in to make less and not to start making any benefits for 3 years, and GM's using many "contract" employees, (some severe arm twisting union huh...) I've also seen personally reports about employees at toyota that were injured on the job and treaed like crap for it, one about seven of them all working at the same plant in the Lexington KY complex. GM of course tries to do the same thing all the time that's what the union is for. UAW members have many complaints but very few of them would actually drop the union, and even fewer so would drop the UAW unless another more Rank and file union was to take its place.

  • Tassos What was the last time we had any good news from Ford? (or GM for that matter?)The last one was probably when Alan Mulally was CEO. Were you even born back then?Fields was a total disaster, then they go hire this clown from Toyota's PR department, the current Ford CEO, Fart-ley or something.He claims to be an auto enthusiast too (unlike Mary Barra who is even worse, but of course always forgiven, as she is the proud owner of a set of female genitals.
  • Tassos I know some would want to own a collectible Mustang. (sure as hell not me. This crappy 'secretary's car' (that was exactly its intended buying demo) was as sophisticated (transl. : CRUDE) as the FLintstone's mobile. Solid Real Axle? Are you effing kidding me?There is a huge number of these around, so they are neither expensive nor valuable.WHen it came out, it was $2,000 or so new. A colleague bought a recent one with the stupid Ecoboost which also promised good fuel economy. He drives a hard bargain and spends time shopping and I remember he paid $37k ( the fool only bought domestic crap, but luckily he is good with his hands and can fix lots of stuff on them).He told me that the alleged fuel economy is obtained only if you drive it like a VERY old lady. WHich defeats the purpose, of course, you might as well buy a used Toyota Yaris (not even a Corolla).
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Back when the Corolla consisted of a wide range of body styles. This wagon, both four door and two door sedans, a shooting brake like three door hatch as well as a sports coupe hatchback. All of which were on the popular cars on the road where I resided.
  • Wjtinfwb Jeez... I've got 3 Ford's and have been a defender due to my overall good experiences but this is getting hard to defend. Thinking the product durability testing that used to take months to rack up 100k miles or more is being replaced with computer simulations that just aren't causing these real-world issues to pop up. More time at the proving ground please...
  • Wjtinfwb Looks like Mazda put more effort into sprucing up a moribund product than Chevy did with the soon to be euthanized '24 Camaro.