UAW's King lays out broad agenda

Jan. 28, 2013 at 3:44 PM
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DETROIT, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- United Auto Workers President Bob King said it is time to energize the labor movement, starting by rebuilding support in Michigan.

"The labor movement has got to come together and have new strategies, new ideas and a new level of focus on rebuilding their ability to get fairness and justice for their members," King said in an interview in Detroit.

The Detroit News reported Monday King steered clear of pointing a finger directly at Gov. Rick Synder, but those days had come and gone.

"My views on the governor have changed because of the broad list of extreme-right legislation he has signed," King said, referring to Snyder, who had repeatedly said a right to work initiative was too divisive for Michigan, then backed a right to work bill that he signed into law in 2012.

Right to work is the term used for laws that allow workers at a unionized shop to opt out of joining the union. Union leaders complained that allows workers to benefit from the union without having to pay dues.

King compared right to work laws with a taxpayer choosing not to pay taxes.

"He says [right to work] is about worker freedom, that workers should have the choice whether to pay dues or not. Why doesn't that correlate to taxpayer freedom? Why don't I get to say, 'I don't want to pay my taxes because I don't agree with Gov. Snyder?'" King asked.

"The governor understands there were divisive issues at the end of 2012," said Kurt Weiss, a spokesman for the governor.

"We are on the right path to reinventing Michigan, creating an environment where families and businesses can grow and thrive," Weiss said, adding the governor "has always partnered in good faith and will continue to do so."

But King said it was time "to re-energize and rebuild the Democratic Party."

Union membership was "a concern," he said. "(However) a greater concern is the shrinking middle class, the lessening of funding for K-12 education, the taxation of retirees pensions, the attack on women's rights, the attack on immigrants -- all this broad extreme-right agenda that right to work is just one piece of -- and, in many ways, is not as harmful to workers as the attacks on kids, the attacks on education, the attacks on community colleges," King said.

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