Bob King, President of the United Auto Workers’ union has gone on the record as saying that his organization will label companies that try to disrupt efforts to organize workers as human rights violators.
“If a company makes the bad business decision to engage in anti-union activity, suppress the rights of freedom of speech and assembly, we will launch a global campaign to brand that company a human-rights violator,” King said during a speech in Detroit on January 12. “We do not want to fight, but we will not run from a fight.”
King is in the process of trying to organize the factories of several foreign automakers, who have assembly plants, mainly in southern states, though he declined to say exactly which ones.
For the longest time, overseas auto manufacturers have resisted attempts to organize workers into unions, fearing a loss of productivity and competitive edge, citing past problems between the UAW and Detroit’s Big Three, which contributed to the decline of the American auto industry.
However, in order to help make a case that the UAW and the manufacturers can work together to achieve common goals, King is highlighting the recent cooperation the union has developed with Ford, Chrysler and General Motors.
“We want to encourage the kind of relations we have, which is not to beat each other up or hold each other hostage,” he said.
However, Honda isn’t biting. The Japanese automaker, which has long taken a hard line against unionized workers said it is not talking with the UAW.
“Honda has had no dialogue with the UAW and has no interest in a discussion with them,” said company spokesman Ed Miller in a recent email statement. “The issue of union representation is ultimately one for our associates to decide and, for more than three decades, Honda associates have spoken loudly and clearly by choosing to reject UAW outreach efforts.”
However, King believes that the workers deserve to get their fair share of the upside and rewarded for the sacrifices they make, pointing to the concessions UAW workers have made since 2005 to help the U.S. auto industry get back on track.
Now that things are looking up for the Big Three in terms of sales and profits, he believes the time has come for the workers to have their slice of the pie. “What’s important is that both through profit-sharing checks and through collective bargaining, the members feel they are being respected and that they’re getting their fair share,” he said.