Bob King, UAW boss stands at podium with arms up

Automotive News Europe reports the United Auto Workers may borrow from German labor unions' playbook. UAW President Bob King says that he's seen the merit of the country's labor system after having being appointed to the supervisory board of Opel last year. Germany's so-called codetermination laws state that union leaders or employee representatives must receive as many as half of the seats on the supervisory boards that control an automaker's major investments. Those boards can also hire or fire executives, and special work councils handle decisions on issues like work hours, benefits and work conditions.

King believes the system gives workers a stronger voice, and says the UAW is open to building a similar system in the US. That could be done through the organization's current contracts with Chrysler, General Motors and Ford.

Shifting strategies could also help the UAW woo foreign-owned manufacturing plants in the US. King hopes the German labor union strategies will be seen as less combative than the union's current policies.