King New UAW President

Kings aren’t usually elected, but the UAW just elected a King; one-time electrician Bob King is the new UAW president, and his acceptance speech at the UAW’s convention may signal changes in the auto industry and the auto transport industry. Seeing non-unionized companies in the US as a large threat to their wages, the UAW will be looking to unionize currently non-union plants, with Tesla’s NUMMI plant being target one on the list; NUMMI was a Toyota-GM plant until recently and was unionized, but Tesla is not unionized as of yet.

Tesla’s sporty electric cars carry a green-with-style vibe that will likely be popular with affluent progressive buyers, but a UAW PR-campaign to unionize Tesla might put a damper on Tesla’s marketing, as Tesla will be likely be cast as a union-busting meanie that only cares about the green that comes in twenties and fifties. Poor economic conditions might make workers hesitant to unionize, but a bad economy can also lead to more populism and more support for unions.

King’s rhetoric at the convention may be more red-meat for the union activists there than real-world policy, but after a period of making “give-back” concessions to auto-makers during the recent economic downturn and bankruptcies to GM and Chrysler, unions are now looking to get back to their traditional rallying cry of “More!” While the effect of UAW activity in unionizing plants may not directly impact car hauling, some haulers are UAW-organized rather than Teamster-organized, and joint Teamster-UAW campaigns against union-unfriendly companies might be in the offing, looking to organize both their factory workers and car transporters.

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