King says UAW prepping for nationwide protests

February 10, 2012
King says UAW prepping for nationwide protests
By BRYCE G. HOFFMAN / The Detroit News
Flint— United Auto Workers President Bob King used the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the Flint Sit-Down Strike to call for “direct action” — including nonviolent civil disobedience — to take back America from the “right-wing Republicans” and “one-percenters” who he says have hijacked this democracy.

King said the UAW would begin training its members and other activists this spring to take part in peaceful, but potentially illegal, protests across America to stop what he called the rollback of workers’ rights and civil rights.

“It will take direct action. It will take us being willing to face arrest. It will take us being willing to be part of marches and demonstrations,” King told a crowd of some 500 union members gathered to mark the anniversary of the end of the 1937 strike against General Motors Co. that led to the UAW’s first national contract. “They are attacking democracy in America. They are attacking the labor movement.”

King said the UAW and other groups must prepare to use the tactics of the civil rights movement and the protests in Tunisia, Egypt and other parts of the Arab world to fight for things such as universal health care and “economic and social justice.”

The union leader would not go into detail about the UAW’s plans, but King said he is working with the leaders of other labor unions and “faith groups” to fan the flames sparked by last year’s Occupy Wall Street movement. He said their first priority would be to re-elect President Barack Obama, but King said they have no intention of stopping there.

“It’s not just about getting someone elected,” he said. “That’s not enough.”

Speaking to reporters after his speech at UAW Local 651, King also called on General Motors and the union representing its German factory employees to work together to find a way to save Adam Opel AG, GM’s struggling German subsidiary.

He would not comment on reports that he will soon be named to Opel’s managing board, but he did say labor and management “can accomplish more by working together,” as the UAW and GM did during the recent recession.

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