King: UAW supports 2nd Detroit-Windsor bridge as long as union labor used to build it

October 17, 2012
King: UAW supports 2nd Detroit-Windsor bridge as long as union labor used to build it
By DAVID SHEPARDSON / Detroit News Washington Bureau
United Auto Workers President Bob King said the union supports building a second bridge between Detroit and Windsor, but will remain neutral on a ballot proposal that seeks to block a government-funded crossing because of “strong concerns.”

“We have long supported another bridge. We think there definitely should be another bridge,” King told The Detroit News.

But King said he wants guarantees that union labor would be used to build the bridge — along with an agreement to ensure it benefits Detroit residents and that U.S. and Canadian union-made steel is used, not Chinese-made steel.

The comments came Monday night, a day before a letter from King to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was released that suggested King supported the crossing.

“This important project will create many thousands of well-paid construction jobs and additional spin-off jobs during construction, and up to 750 permanent jobs to operate the facility,” King wrote in the June 6 letter posted Tuesday on a Transportation Department website.

The letter asked LaHood to waive “Buy America” provisions and use some Canadian iron and steel to build the bridge.

The UAW said the letter didn’t conflict with King’s earlier statements, issuing a statement reading “the UAW has always been in favor of construction of a new bridge … but has concerns about the New International Trade Crossing.”

In The Detroit News interview, King also wants to make sure there is a “fair balance” of work between Canadians and Americans in building the new bridge.

He said the bridge deal does not do enough “in writing” to help people in southwest Detroit.

King declined to directly comment on reports that the UAW was considering supporting the ballot initiative Proposal 6 — which would require state voters to approve spending money on new international crossings — in exchange for millions of dollars of support from Ambassador Bridge owner Manuel “Matty” Moroun for another ballot initiative, Proposal 2, which would enshrine collective bargaining rights in the state constitution.

King said the UAW has had talks with businesses — both small and large — to try to get them to support Proposal 2, including seeking financial donations. “We talked to a lot of people in the business community about supporting” the labor measure, King said.

Asked if there was a proposed “quid pro quo” with Moroun, King said: “Obviously, there is no deal because we’ve announced that we’re going to maintain neutrality.”

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