UAW Recruits Activists For Transplant Assault

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
uaw recruits activists for transplant assault

As Bob King and the United Auto Workers gear up for their January organizing campaign aimed at converting transplant automakers to the union way, the UAW is picking up support from outside the automotive industry. Automotive News [sub] reports that Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition has expressed its interest in organizing the non-union auto assembly plants, and that the Detroit bureau of the NAACP has pledged assistance as well, offering to request assistance from its national leadership. Even the Ohio-based Farm Labor Organizing Committee, which organizes migrant farm workers, has said it would join the fight if King asks. And though AN’s writeup uses the imagery of conflict to describe King’s “soldiers,” King insists that its strategy is not confrontational. As far as the President of the UAW is concerned,

Transplant workers in the South will want to be part of this “winning team,” King said.

King points out that his union is already moving towards a less confrontational organizing strategy, and points to his suspension of ugly anti-Toyota protests as an indication of the union’s desire to take “the high road.” But all it will take to get the UAW to declare all-out war on the transplants is the failure to sign the union’s “ Rules For Fair Campaigns,” which the union insists is the only way to fairly determine whether transplant workers want to join the UAW.

But if the carmakers obstruct the drives, the UAW will ratchet up the pressure, possibly with the help of allies that King has cultivated over the years.

In an exclusive interview last week, King, a bespectacled, 64-year-old law school graduate who once thought about being a priest, said the union intends to take “the high road” in the drive.

He said the UAW will accept the results of the organizing campaigns as long as plant workers get a free and fair election opportunity without intimidation by the automakers.

But, as Toyota’s Mike Goss points out, intimidation hasn’t been necessary to keep its US-based workers out of the union. The Japanese automaker’s record, he says, speaks for itself, as Toyota

has never laid off an hourly employee since opening its first U.S. plant in Georgetown, Ky., 25 years ago…That’s despite several economic downturns that prompted other automakers to lay off and buy out thousands of workers.And the UAW face another challenge: its own talking points. After the UAW became part-owner of GM and Chrysler during the government-led auto rescue, the union-friendly Center for Automotive Research proclaimed that the UAW made so many sacrifices thatbetween 2013 and 2015, Toyota could even be paying $10 more per hour than GM unless the Japanese company reacts and lowers wages.That’s good for justifying the UAW’s stakes in GM and Chrysler, but it certainly hurts the pitch to transplant assembly workers. After all, why be associated with a declining union that refuses to represent all of its members and has allowed (or, some might argue, helped cause) massive layoffs, when said union won’t even pay them more than they could expect without the union? If the union couldn’t convince transplant workers to organize before the bailout, it’s impossible to see them doing it now.Which is why this marshaling of allies from Jackson to the NAACP makes so little sense: what do civil rights organizations have to do with a union that has nothing to offer workers besides a record of failure and an ownership stake in the competition? Is the UAW preparing to accuse the transplants of racism? King’s union may have little else to go on…
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  • 441Zuke 441Zuke on Dec 28, 2010

    I am sure many southerners will be "sympathetic" to the causes of Jesse Jackson

  • Segar925 Segar925 on Dec 28, 2010

    Since the union thugs were successful destroying so many domestic manufacturing jobs, they obviously won't be satisfied until everbody is unemployed.

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