The King's speech -- UAW President Bob King's speech to the Automotive Press Association last week -- was a vintage effort. Much of it was hitting the usual political and social talking points.
It was almost like watching a movie rerun.
One thing that jumped out at me was King's idea for a global network of unions.
In the global auto industry of the 21st century, where automakers can shift parts and assembly work from one country to another almost at will, King wants a network of unions, students and activists who can exert social and economic pressure on automakers anywhere in the world by using boycotts and other actions.
Some obvious targets would be overseas automakers with U.S. transplant factories that resist UAW organizing efforts.
Looking overseas is nothing new for the UAW. From the beginning, the union has been interested in exporting its all-American brand of trade unionism. In 1955, the UAW created an International Affairs Department, headed by Victor Reuther, brother of UAW President Walter Reuther.
Through the decades, the UAW's overseas efforts have warmed up or cooled off depending on economics, politics and personalities.
Perhaps the most effective UAW overseas operative was Herman Rebhan, who was a honcho at the International Metalworkers Federation in the 1970s and 1980s. Rebhan wanted to hook up auto workers in the United States, Europe and Asia.
They never really have brought any worldwide leverage to the bargaining table.
Now King has a bigger plan to spend lots of UAW money plus use UAW staff and volunteers to help workers organize in other countries. He says he will work through the IMF, which represents 25 million workers from 200 unions in 100 countries.
If he pulls it off, King will have finished what Reuther and Rebhan started.