In the wake of the mass downsizing of the domestic auto industry, the United Auto Workers union has seen its ranks thinned considerably despite its outreach efforts. The union also suffers from image issues, which spring from its historically combative relationship with management at Ford Motor, General Motors and Chrysler Group.

Under the leadership of Bob King, who was elected union president last June, the UAW is now taking a different tact, including expressing willingness to work with employers.

Speaking in Detroit on Wednesday, King told those gathered for the Automotive News World Congress that working with the union today is a smart business decision, the Detroit Free Press reported. "The UAW has learned from the past and we have embraced radical change," King said. "We have completely discarded the 'us versus them' mentality."

Back to War

King was less magnanimous in discussing foreign-owned automakers that operate nonunion factories in the U.S. The union chief said the UAW intends to play tough with Toyota Motor (TM), Honda Motor (HMC), BMW and others if the companies don't agree to the secret-ballot election principles that the union supports, the Associated Press reported.

Manufacturers that don't sign on to the ideals will be branded as human-rights violators, King said. The union has had little success organizing workers at the factories, which were built mainly in southern states, such as South Carolina, Alabama and Kentucky.

Backed by a $800 million war chest, King is pushing forward with a campaign to unionize plants operated by German and Asian companies. The effort includes a set of 11 organizing principles that the union wants companies to agree to.

The principles would ensure fair elections free from intimidation and misinformation on the part of both companies and the union, according to King.

The push to unionize foreign-based automakers comes as the UAW is soon to begin negotiations with GM (GM), Ford (F) and Chrysler to renew labor contracts that expire in September.

The union, which boasted as many as 1.5 million members at its peak in 1979, had fewer than 400,000 members at the end of 2009.

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Legacydistro

I will never buy a Union made car! They are a pack of thieves. Done a nice job of wrecking a few States a nearly the entire USA. Screw them, and keep them up North!!!!

January 18 2011 at 11:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
framazoidsue

FREEKIN UNIONS WILL NOT STOP TILL THEY FINALLY DESTROY THE U.S.A.

January 18 2011 at 10:49 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
jrc22552

Unions collect dues from their members and then spend it on political donations against their members' wishes. One of the main drivers for Obama-care is that the UAW was given custody of the members' medical insurance trust fund, which they raided to donate to the Dem's, and now they want another bailout. Unions are pressing the government to confiscate all pension, IRA and 401k funds in order to bail out their pension trusts.

January 18 2011 at 9:26 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
deserth

Sounds more to me like the union is trying to intimidate. Most of those companies treat their workers much better than the US companies did - the only ones losing out seem to be the overpaid union bosses.

January 18 2011 at 12:14 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
pianomanref

More union means more problems. Isn't the writing on the wall obvious enough?

January 18 2011 at 11:25 AM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
CGALLAGHER

Over 1 million less union members by 2009 ,That shows unions have out lived there usefullnest

January 18 2011 at 8:31 AM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
davidsttsvll

hey bullhorner
in my seventy years I have seen the american workers grow fat and lazy and spoilt,thanks to the unions,now they have to actually work for a days pay they cry and moan

January 17 2011 at 3:27 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
davidsttsvll

unions were good in their day,but that day has long gone.I worked union for many years,then had to ork non-union beacause the unions drove the companies overseas,I will take non-union jobs any day over union.I dont care for paying in so those guys can live a non productive elaborate life style off from my sweat,I hope the foriegn car companys have sense enough to say no,those workers could end up without jobs if they fool with the unions

January 17 2011 at 3:22 PM Report abuse +6 rate up rate down Reply
cljvedelman

The foreign owned auto manufacturers in this country do not have to keep factories in the USA. They can (and probably will) move production elsewhere in the world and ship the cars to the US. The UAW will give them yet another reason to shut down here. Wait and see.

January 16 2011 at 10:36 PM Report abuse +17 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cljvedelman's comment
bigpapapuff425

Then we slap a hih tariff on their imported cars. Much like our great allies the S. Koreans do to us. They imported over 400,000 cars to this country. Howevere, due to the high tariffs on our cars going into their country, our automakers sold less than a thousand to the S. Koreans.

January 17 2011 at 10:01 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
bullhorner

The people commenting against " the unions" as though they all are one of the same are ignorant and brainwashed by corporate propaganda. No they say? So what do they propose? That no American worker make decent wages or have a retirement or a penson? Advocating for a wage, benefit and retirement race to the bottom with the "global market" that consists of third world countries and China would have us all living in poverty.

Wake up - the corporations do not care about America or her workers. Try to grow a spine and stand up for a standard for America instead of being know nothing jackaskses. And by the way - down below here - labor is NOT a commodity - jerk.

January 16 2011 at 9:15 PM Report abuse -11 rate up rate down Reply