According to individuals close to the matter, leaders of the United Auto Workers union are scheduled to nominate Bob King as their preferred candidate to replace retiring president, Ron Gettelfinger.
The anonymous sources say that King, who has headed the union’s negotiations with Ford Motor Company, will expected to be named by the union’s administrative caucus scheduled for this Wednesday.
The claim, which was published last Friday by Bloomberg News, comes as no surprise. King is a union vice president and has long been considered the likely replacement for the current UAW president.
King is an Army veteran who joined Ford Motors in 1970. Over the past four years, he has advocated many or the policies pursued by Gettelfinger; many of which resulted in union concessions to U.S. automakers.
The selection of King by the administrative caucus will require a confirmation vote during the union’s convention this coming June. The vote has traditionally been merely a rubber stamp of the caucus’ chosen candidate.
King’s nomination, however, may face opposition when the matter comes to a vote. According to Tiffany Ten Eyck, a commentator for Labor Notes, King has not ingratiated himself with rank-and-file workers who see him as partially responsible for concessions that have reduced wages for new hires to $14 per hour.
King was also a key figure in negotiating the latest round of concessions proposed by Ford this past October. Union leadership, however, strongly opposed the “no strike” clause relating to benefits and wages and the proposal was ultimately rejected by UAW representatives.
Ten Eyck said, "With King, there will be no change in direction of the union."
Gettelfinger, 65, has served two consecutive terms as the union’s president. During his tenure, membership in the union has declined and benefits and wages been significantly reduced, especially for new hires. Detroit’s Big Three automakers have argued that concessions are necessary in order for them to remain competitive against an increasing number of foreign automakers who benefit from lower labor costs and more favorable exchange rates.
Gettelfinger has also overseen the transformation of the UAW into a major investor in the new General Motors Company and Chrysler Group as the result of their recent federally funded bankruptcies. The UAW now holds a 55% stake in Chrysler through its retiree health care benefits trust fund and a 17.5% share in the new General Motors Company.