DETROIT -- Bob King, the probable favorite to become the next UAW president, said this morning that concessions and the need to restore lost benefits to the union's members will be a theme here at this week's UAW National Constitutional Convention.
In an interview before the formal convention begins today, King said the union leadership would provide a forum for workers and delegates to air their views on concessions.
The constitutional convention typically is where broad policy decisions are formed and officers are elected. Next year's collective bargaining convention is where bargaining tactics will be solidified before 2011 master contract talks with the Detroit 3.
"Technically, where we talk about collective bargaining is next March. But any issue that is on the minds of our membership, we always talk about," said King, 63, who is expected to replace the retiring Ron Gettelfinger after Wednesday's election of officers.
UAW dissident Gary Walkowicz is opposing King for the presidency to call attention to the sacrifices that rank-and-file workers made during the auto recession.
Walkowicz, a bargaining committeeman at Ford Motor Co.'s truck plant in Dearborn, Mich., said he will push to end concessions and prepare workers this week to fight for the restoration of benefits lost over the past three years.
At a speech last month, King estimated that workers have given up $7,000 to $30,000 a year in compensation and benefits to aid the automakers.