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UAW targeting Toyota workers

BLUE SPRINGS — The top priority for the United Auto Workers union is now to organize non-union workers at U.S. Toyota factories and those of other foreign automakers, the union’s new president said today.

Bob King, who was elected to the post yesterday, said in his acceptance speech that the union must fight for greater rights to organize nonunion workers. That includes lobbying for passage of the federal Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow workers to join unions simply by filling out a card.

King spent much of his speech criticizing Toyota, and said the UAW would conduct a banner campaign at its dealerships. The banners will say that Toyota puts profits before people, King said.

Currently, there are no unionized Toyota plants in the United States.

“Our goal is to provide a safe work environment and good pay and benefits, and we work hard to manage our business with employment stability in mind,” said Toyota spokesman Mike Goss. “Any decision about representation is up to our team members, not the company.”

Today, Toyota said it would resume construction of a Mississippi plant, which had been halted when auto sales tanked in 2008.

Toyota said it would hire 2,000 workers at the Blue Springs factory.

King contends, however, that work was shifted to the Mississippi facility so the company could pay lower wages than at the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) plant in Fremont, Calif., which was closed recently. He also said the California plant was closed to scare workers at its other U.S. factories so they wouldn’t join the union.

Toyota decided to close NUMMI after General Motors Co. pulled out of a joint venture with Toyota that ran the factory.

Goss denied that lower wages prompted the NUMMI closure.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “GM’s withdrawal was the defining moment for NUMMI. Without our joint venture partner, we could not sustain that plant alone.”

Goss also cited high costs, but said labor cost was not a significant factor.

The reputation of the Toyota Motor Corp. has been sullied in the past year after it recalled eight million vehicles worldwide over reports of unintended acceleration with numerous models.

King, 63, succeeds Ron Gettelfinger, who is retiring after eight years in office.

King went on to say at the union’s convention in downtown Detroit that the only way for the UAW to win back concessions made to companies during the recession is to organize workers at all companies in the automotive, aerospace and agricultural equipment sectors.

The boss can’t say his company is at a competitive disadvantage to nonunion companies if it pays union wages and benefits, King said.

“When you do that, you have the power to deliver for all members in that industry,” he said.

After his speech, King led the roughly 1,100 delegates on a march through downtown Detroit to demand that Wall Street pay for the damage caused by the recession and that it stop opposing financial reform.


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  1. Elie Robinson

    It’s time for these parasites to recognize their time has come to an end. Many years ago they were needed. They have, however, outived their usefulness.

    Labor unions are the primary reason the US has become a service industry without a manufacturing backbone.

  2. If a good worker starts on a union job, want be long till he is not worth his salt. I worked on a union job in south Ms, could have built 2 paper mills with the wasted labor. The down fall of our country.

  3. You are correct Mrs. Robinson. Unions had a purpose that benefitted workers and America back in the early 20th Century. A time when workers were worked from can to can’t in any horrid condition possible. However, today a unions purpose is to benefit the employees of the union and make them money and for them to have a purpose for taking that money. The real result of a union is to drive business overseas. We have open trade now and if Americans keep pushing the wages up, they will keep pushing the jobs out. Pick YOUR poison!!!

  4. yep let’s suck the life out of other auto companies,after all the govt will bail us out..
    it’s is time for unions to become illegal.they are nothing but leeches

  5. good comments… but the really sad thing is our government decided to model it’s services to the people after the unions…

  6. I worked for a union auto company for many years had no complaints until the economy got bad took paycuts and benefit cuts. not understanding how bad economy really was and how good I had it then out of that job for 2 years now with the mississippi plant in blue springs now and happy to have ajob but very disappointed in wages nonunion and its the reason why its there to keep wages down and not pay what they should be, it is compared to the area since when is furniture and buliding the highest profit vehicles on the market to the same wages as the area, they are not paying or caring about workers just there pockets maybe the old toyota menatality did but not the new. again happy to have a job but as many there are very disappointed being they are playing off the area and not payign workers based on the industry of automanufacturing and for that reason I am waiting for a union to come in because I am not seeing any or will not in near future 5 years to get to top pay is rediculous when it was 18 months I have a friend working for a candy factory making $20 an hr only been there a year and a car manufacturer taking almost 5 years to pay you the same is sad and very selfish, pay wages that are fair we need and want to live decent and take pride in our lives with the wages given now not possible just make it by barely. happy to work and not mad of that but toyota is not a fly by night company and they know they are not being fair to mississippi and do not care it seems.

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