COLUMBUS, Ohio -- A few months after Honda started building motorcycles at its newly minted $35 million plant in Marysville, Ohio, in September 1979, the UAW set up shop nearby to begin its organizing effort.
But the union's yearslong quest would come up short against the patience of Shige Yoshida, now retired COO of Honda of America Manufacturing, who effectively gauged the will of his workers and brushed off pressure from Japan brass to recognize the union.
"I knew something of unions," Yoshida, 86, recalled during an April speech at a Columbus Rotary event. "Honda has a company union in Japan. The relationship between management and workers is different. Many union leaders are promoted into management, and there are few major disputes."