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Published: Friday, 12/24/2010

UAW aims to organize German, Asian plants

DETROIT -- The United Auto Workers union will start a campaign aimed at organizing the U.S. manufacturing plants of Asian and German automakers in January, the union's president said.

UAW President Bob King told Automotive News the union sent letters to the chief executives of automakers with U.S. operations informing them that the union wanted to cooperate with them and to organize their plants.

The UAW, which represents workers at the U.S. automakers, has not succeeded in organizing workers at U.S. plants run by Toyota Motor Corp. or Nissan Motor Co. despite efforts going back to the 1990s.

Japanese, Korean, and German automakers have all opened plants in recent years in southern U.S. states where the union faces a tougher struggle to organize.

Mr. King said the union would hold a news conference in January to begin its organizing drive. He did not, in the interview, name the automakers that the union would target. Toyota, Nissan, Honda Motor Co., Hyundai Motor Co., Daimler AG, and BMW all run assembly plants in the United States, and none is unionized.

Mr. King, who took over the top job at the UAW last summer, has made it a priority to recruit new members and stem a long-running decline in the union's power. The UAW represents just under 400,000 members, down from a peak of nearly 1.5 million in 1979.

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