The United Auto Workers still represents several hundred thousand workers at factories owned by the Detroit three, but it has yet to make inroads at plants operated in the U.S. by foreign automakers. As union membership continues to dwindle, UAW leaders have been making plenty of noise lately about organizing those plants, going so far as to say the UAW's very survival depends on it.
"If we don't organize these trans-nationals, I don't think there's a long-term future for the UAW. I really don't," King told an audience at a political action conference in Washington D.C.
The UAW reached its record-high membership figure of 1.59 million in 1979, but as plants closed and automakers downsized, that figure has dropped to just 400,000 active members. The UAW has previously attempted to organize facilities owned by foreign automakers, but typically walked away from each venture with its goals unmet.
"Because [the automakers] didn't want us to be able to succeed in our organizing drives, whatever we did with the Big 3, they would run out and give it -- in some cases even more -- to workers before we got there to keep us out," King noted."
King believes this trend has changed, however, as automakers continue to locate plants in economically-depressed areas, allowing companies to pay less to those simply excited at the prospect of a steady, paying job.
True to his prior rhetoric, King announced at his conference in Washington that the UAW intends to organize a single automaker by the end of 2011 -- although at this point, it's completely unclear as to which company will be targeted. King noted the union has asked foreign automakers with U.S. assembly plants to agree to a so-called "fair bargaining" set of principles.
The UAW plans to protest one of the transplant automakers at random should they fail to comply within 90 days. As of now, none have responded to the union's request.
Source: The Detroit Free Press