This time, the target is foreign car makers, whose workers have rebuffed the union repeatedly. Specifically, Reuters has learned, the union is going after U.S. plants owned by German manufacturers Volkswagen AG and Daimler AG, seen as easier nuts to crack than the Japanese and South Koreans.
It's a battle the UAW cannot afford to lose. By failing to organize factories run by foreign automakers, the union has been a spectator to the only growth in the U.S. auto industry in the last 30 years. That failure to win new members has compounded a crunch on the UAW's finances, forcing it to sell assets and dip into its strike fund to pay for its activities.
In dozens of interviews with union officials, organizers and car company executives, a picture has emerged of UAW President Bob King's strategy. By appealing to German unions for help and by calling on the companies to do the right thing, King hopes to get VW and Daimler to surrender without a fight and let the union make its case directly to workers.
Central to this effort is the belief that if car companies refrain from actively opposing a UAW organizing push, workers at German-American factories will gladly join the union.