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Union Ain’t Wanted: The UAW’s Bad Week…

Over a year ago, the president of the United Auto Workers, Bob King, announced a campaign to ‘shame’ foreign automakers with plants here in the U.S. into allowing his union to unionize them–the details of which would be released at a later point in time.

Earlier this year, when King finally released his new manifesto on what he expected the automakers to agree to, it was met with well-deserved derision.

The union was silent, though, when in June Bloomberg ran this headline: Hyundai Teaches UAW Best Factory Job Doesn’t Need a Union.

However, in early August, knowing that his union’s future is looking bleak, King stated that the union was in “confidential” talks with the foreign automakers.

“The vast majority of the assemblers here in the United States have at least agreed to confidential discussions,” UAW President Bob King said at an industry conference in Traverse City, Michigan. “We’ve had productive discussions. The last thing we want is confrontation.”

This seemed to confirm the buzz that was created in July when it was reported that the UAW was talking to the Volkswagen AG’s works council and the German union IG Metal to launch an attempt at unionizing the employees at VW’s new Tennessee plant.

Unfortunately for Bob King and his ambitions, the UAW got some bad news on Friday. It appears the German unions have decided against helping the UAW unionize the VW plant in Tennessee.

A key German labor leader says he won’t promote United Auto Workers’ efforts to organize Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant.

Bernd Osterloh, who represents labor on the German carmaker’s supervisory board, said he is keen on union representation for employees at the plant, but he would not actively promote UAW efforts to broaden its membership at VW, Reuters reported Thursday.

An auto analyst said Osterloh’s remarks “aren’t terribly surprising.”

“He’s trying to protect his own jobs,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at Edmunds.com.

Krebs said German labor leaders are nervous about plant production in that country. At the same time, the United States has become much more competitive in manufacturing autos.

“Each one wants to protect their own,” she said.

This comes as a double-whammy following VW-owned Audi’s decision to locate a new manufacturing plant in Mexico instead of the U.S. in what appears to be a desire not to put itself in the UAW’s (and NLRB’s) sights.

To make matters worse for King and his cronies at the Solidarity House, just a few weeks after UAW members rejected a final offer at an American Axle plant in Cheektowaga, New York, the company has decided to close the plant, eliminating 300 jobs.

This closure follows the UAW’s rejection of a contract at American Axle’s Detroit facility two months ago, which prompted the company to announce the closure of the Detroit facility as well.

In June, [Chris Son, director of corporate and investor relations] told Crain’s that American Axle, a former General Motors Co. unit, continued to seek a competitive labor contract with the UAW that was much like a pact in place at the supplier’s Three Rivers plant in southwest Michigan.

Axle wanted to reduce compensation to $30 an hour from $45 at its Detroit plant, which is likely what the supplier was seeking in New York.

“It’s a matter of being market-competitive and achieving an appropriate cost structure,” Son said.

Between the UAW’s inability to save jobs in the North, its failures to unionize plants in the South, the chasing of Audi to Mexico, and the rejection by the German union, there is a bright side for Bob King: At least none of his members were caught by news cameras smoking pot this week.

Of course, there’s always next week.

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“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776

Image credit.

Cross-posted at LaborUnionReport.com

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