Call it a case of "He said, he said." A Toyota spokesman says the Japanese automaker doesn't see an interest in unionizing among workers at its production facility in Kentucky, while UAW spokespeople say workers are showing more interest than ever in forming a union. So which is it? Could be a bit of both. UAW membership has been dropping nationwide, but the organization still has an undeniably powerful place in the industry. With more foreign automakers building plants in the States, particularly in the South, the UAW has failed to gain a foothold in these facilities.
The Detroit News is quoting Toyota spokesman Rick Hesterberg as saying the carmaker sees no evidence of increased UAW interest among its Georgetown, Kentucky plant workforce. But the News also offers statements by UAW president Ron Gettelfinger and the union's head of organizing efforts, Terry Thurman, that contradict Toyota's position. They say there is "increased activity" ever since workers found out about a proposal to lower some workers' wages to cut costs. They admit that Toyota workers' wages are close to UAW rates, but say the difference is in how volatile wages can be at a non-union plant.
Though the UAW's power has been waning, the slow resurrection of profits at General Motors will give it more bargaining power at the table this year. If a union ever were established at a Japanese-owned production facility in the U.S., that precedent would also create the opportunity for a resurgence in the UAW's popularity among hourly auto workers.
[Source: The Detroit News]