DETROIT -- UAW President Bob King said today that the union is open to recent General Motors Co. disclosures that the automaker would like to see some portion of employee compensation in the next contract tied to the financial and quality performance of the company.
King said any details would have to be left to collective bargaining, which officially kicks off between the UAW and the Detroit 3 after July 4.
“The details of how we share in the upside of the companies we'll leave to negotiations,” King said, speaking before his speech today at the 2011 Automotive News World Congress in Detroit.
King, 64, who succeeded Ron Gettelfinger as UAW president in June, said the effort to organize transplant automakers has begun.
King, during his speech, vowed to commit the entire resources of the union to expose to the world the actions of the companies that interfere with the organizing drives.
The union has $60 million available today and a strike fund of another more than $800 million that union delegates can vote to release for the drives.
Without the right to organize and bargain collectively, King said, "there can be no strong, sustainable middle class."
King said targeted carmakers that violate the fair election principles will be branded as "human-rights violators."
That could cause potential buyers to go elsewhere for their vehicles, he added.
King said the union will launch a publicity campaign against violators that will include demonstrations, public meetings, letters, outreach to shareholders and networking with UAW allies in the faith, civil-rights and environmental communities.
"I would not want to be a company branded as a human-rights violator," King said.
Meetings under way
King said the union has begun to meet with workers at the U.S. auto plants of such foreign carmakers as Toyota, Honda and Hyundai. He said those meetings will accelerate in the coming weeks as the UAW seeks to organize those plants for the first time.
King said he holds out hope that the executives at the transplants will agree to organizing principles that the UAW has sent them calling for fair elections without company interference in the campaigns.
He said the union's role in the revival of the Detroit 3 since the 2009 crisis has shown that the union has become a partner rather than an adversary in the companies.
King said the UAW has become much more flexible in the auto plants. He said most Detroit 3 plants have just one production classification, allowing management to effectively deploy the work force.
He said in any Detroit 3 plant, shop floor members talk constantly about quality and suggest process changes to improve quality and productivity.
Everyone has ownership
Yesterday, GM North American President Mark Reuss said that compensation for hourly and salaried workers should be pegged to some degree to the financial performance of the company and how well it performs on various industry quality measures.
“I think everybody in the company should have ownership -- whether it's quality, sales or profits,” said Reuss, who was interviewed walking the floor of the Detroit auto show.
The UAW represents about 54,000 hourly workers at GM.
King also is interested in obtaining board seats on the Detroit 3 as part of this year's master negotiations. The current four-year contract expires in September.
Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally said Ford feels strongly about maintaining the independence of its trustees when asked Tuesday at the auto show about King's desire for board representation.