DETROIT -- The new head of the UAW provided an early glimpse of the campaign he plans to wage to unionize the U.S. plants of Asian automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp.
In an interview with Reuters, Bob King said the effort would involve a big public relations component and not rely solely on the old-fashioned organizing pushes that have proved unsuccessful with transplant automakers in the past. When he was elected UAW president in mid-June, King vowed to "pound Toyota."
"You're going to see a lot more activism and a lot more involvement of the membership -- whether it's dealer actions, whether it's legislative actions, whether it's in broader coalitions," he said.
"We're going to ask people of conscience to stand up and tell Toyota to stop abusing workers, that preventing workers from exercising their First Amendment rights [to organize] is wrong."
A spokesman for Toyota did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
King said the effort would try to put Toyota, still smarting from the product-defect crisis that rattled it this year, back in the PR hot seat.
"I think that public pressure on Toyota will make a tremendous difference," he said. "Toyota is a good business company. When they see that their anti-union actions are hurting their bottom line, they'll sit down and they'll work with us."
King also that the UAW would support organizing efforts by auto workers in developing countries, such as China, where a series of strikes at suppliers have idled production at some of the country's biggest auto plants.