In Kentucky, Toyota Faces Union Rumblings Downtrodden UAW Makes New Push
By Sholnn Freeman Washington Post Staff Writer Saturday, May 26, 2007; Page A01
GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- Dissident workers at the Toyota plant here gather at the Best Western Georgetown on Wednesdays between shifts to shape a battle plan. The workers are angry at conditions at this flagship Toyota site, where the best-selling Camry is built.
The United Auto Workers has launched a big new push to organize the plant, trying to capitalize on fears of lower pay, outsourcing of jobs and on Toyota's treatment of injured workers. The stakes for the UAW intensified this month as a private-equity firm agreed to buy Chrysler, raising fears that the union will be unable to block cuts in jobs and benefits at a privately owned automaker.
The Chrysler deal has underscored the UAW's diminished clout as membership has shrunk along with jobs at the Detroit automakers. The UAW has never succeeded in organizing a foreign auto assembly plant in the United States, but Toyota's emergence as the world's largest automaker has added urgency to this effort. The UAW will begin new contract negotiations this summer without any workers from Toyota.
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