King: UAW needs to refocus, re-energize

By Bryce G. Hoffman, The Detroit News

United Auto Workers President Bob King said his union is stepping up its efforts to organize foreign automakers and advised Michigan Democrats to rethink their strategy for countering the “war on the middle class” being waged by “right-wing” Republicans.

The past 12 months have been tough for the UAW and its leader. The union — desperate to fill the widening gaps in its membership rolls — is no closer to realizing King’s dream of organizing one of the foreign automakers’ factories in the South than it was at the beginning of 2012.

Meanwhile, in the UAW stronghold that was Michigan, voters rejected pro-union ballot proposals that King strongly and publicly backed, while Republicans pushed through right-to-work legislation that will allow workers to opt out of paying union dues.

And just last week, the federal government released its latest statistics showing that union membership declined nationwide last year.

“Labor has got some huge challenges in front of it. It’s a labor movement issue. It’s not unique to the UAW,” King told The Detroit News in an interview at Solidarity House in Detroit on Friday. “The labor movement has got to come together and have new strategies, new ideas and a new level of focus on rebuilding their ability to get fairness and justice for their members.”

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