DETROIT -- UAW President Bob King says he is slowing the labor union's decades-long membership decline, but his goal of organizing at least one foreign-owned automaker in the South still eludes him.
King, 66, scheduled to step down in June 2014, said two years ago that the UAW had no future if it could not organize workers at plants in Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee that are owned by Japanese, German and South Korean automakers.
In an interview last week, King said the so-called Southern strategy is "still a huge priority," but he no longer characterized it in do-or-die terms, noting that the UAW is also expanding beyond the auto industry into areas such as gaming, health care and higher education.
King said the percentage of union membership that is automotive is now less than half, with 4,400 agricultural workers and more than 5,000 casino workers joining in the past two and a half years.
"We are organizing in new areas, and we're organizing in a broad spectrum. I think that's good for any organization. Having multiple bases is better for the long term," King told Reuters.
Still, that has not satisfied some critics, who say King had staked his presidency on pledges to organize a foreign-owned plant.