The UAW has a new president, after Bob King was elected today after a long roll call vote at the UAW national convention. King, 63, succeeds Ron Gettelfinger, 65, who is heading into retirement after leading the union through two turbulent four-year terms, which included last year’s auto recession. King has conceded some popularity in recent years, due to his pushing of concessions deemed favorable to the manufacturers.
A trained electrician and lawyer by trade, King has been with the UAW for 40 years; he takes over at a time now when membership is down to 355,000, compared to 1.5 million in 1979. This shift in the UAW coincides with signs of industry recovery, which was in large part facilitated by the UAW’s lobbying of teh Obama administration to provide bailout funding for GM and Chrylser, and by many of teh cocnessions the union itself agreed to in order to alleviate the burden on those two manufacturers.
“Bob is facing a very, very difficult job because there will be tremendous pressure on him to roll back the concessions,” said Gary Chaison, a labor professor at Clark University in Worcester, Mass. “He’s got to walk a very fine line to reverse some of what was lost and keep some in place for the promise of a brighter future.”
Despite past criticism of being too lenient on the manufacturers, King is known for his industry expertise, ability to negotiate, business acumen, and above all else, his work-ethic.
– By: Stephen Calogera
Source: Automotive News (Subscription Required)