The UAW is aggressively pursuing a plan to get inside foreign factories. According to a Reuters report, it is targeting U.S. plants that are owned by German manufacturers (Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG), which it considers easier to get into than the Japan or South Korean automakers. The UAW is taking on this challenge to organize hostile factories – something it hasn’t attempted since the 1930s.
It’s likely to be an act of desperation as failing to win new members has affected UAW’s finances. So far, the union has only acted as a spectator to these companies, which are the only ones growing in the auto industry in the U.S. during the past 30 years.
The workers at these foreign automakers have consistently rejected the UAW and it has had to sell assets and use up some of the money from its strike fund to pay for its activities. From the interviews with automakers’ officials, union officers and organizers, it is becoming apparent that UAW President Bob King's strategy consists of making appeals to German unions for help and of urging companies to do the proper thing.
King is hopeful that VW and Daimler will give in without putting up a fight and that they will eventually allow the union to make its case directly to workers. King also believes that the workers at German-American factories will willingly join the union if the automakers don’t oppose a UAW organizing campaign.
However, it’s possible that King’s belief is totally off-base. Workers realize that nearly every job lost at U.S. car factories in the past 3 decades is from a unionized company. It’s also true that nearly every new job created is at a non-union company. The union is hoping to get lucky with the factories in the South, which throughout history has shown its hostility to unions.