UAW Announces Plans to Picket Auto Dealers

December 01, 2011

The United Auto Workers (UAW) is gearing up its efforts to unionize foreign "transplant" auto assembly plants in the South.

In recent years German, Japanese, and South Korean automakers have located automobile assembly plants in southern states, in large part because of the favorable labor ( non union ) environment. Hyundia/Kia, Nissan, Toyota, Mercedes, BMW, and Volkswagen operate manufacturing facilities in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky.

Although workers at Nissan, Toyota, and other automakers in the South have rejected UAW organizing efforts in the past, the union is intent on targeting these "transplant" manufacturing sites for unionization. As part of this effort, the UAW has announced that it will focus on one of the foreign automakers and will conduct picketing at the auto dealers selling this brand of vehicles.

The union's plan is to use "informational picketing" aimed at "educating" customers as they enter car dealers' storefronts. Training efforts for this initiative have begun at the UAW Local 1853 in Spring Hill, TN which represents workers at the GM plant there. Although union officials say the intent is not to disrupt dealerships' business, UAW officials concede that union sympathizers, such as truck drivers who are Teamsters members delivering new vehicles to dealerships, might balk at crossing the picket lines.

SESCO Management Consultants recommends owners and managers of dealerships take the following actions in preparation of picketing efforts targeting your industry:

- Review polices regarding solicitation and distribution of literature in the workplace as well as your policy related to visitors to your dealership.

- Develop a communication plan to inform employees about the possibility of picketing.

- Conduct Union Awareness and Avoidance training for all managers.

- Prepare a communications plan including a media response to be used in the event your dealership is picketed.

- Know exactly where your property lines are located — picketers may not occupy your property. Also, seek the cooperation of adjacent property owners to notify the police if picketers trespass on their property.

- If picketing occurs, avoid any confrontations with the picketers; instruct your managers and employees to conduct business as usual. Don't be drawn into any disruptions-this plays into the union's strategy.

- If picketing occurs at your or other local dealerships, contact SESCO Management Consultants immediately.

If we may be of assistance, contact Bill Ford at 423-764-4127 or by email at bill@sescomgt.com .