UAW Head Uses Ford CEO's $50 Million Payday to Rally Union for Talks

UAW Head Bob King Uses Ford CEO's $50 Million Payday to Rally Union for Talks
UAW Head Bob King Uses Ford CEO's $50 Million Payday to Rally Union for Talks

Ford Motor's (F) recent decision to award its star CEO, Alan Mulally, more than $50 million in compensation for last year's record $6.6 billion profit caused more than a few eyebrows to be raised around Detroit.

Among those reacting unhappily to the pay package were members of the United Auto Workers. The Dearborn, Mich.-based automaker sought and received millions of dollars in contract modifications from unionized workers in 2009 to help the company weather the financial crisis.

Now, with Ford once again profitable, the UAW wants back some of what it gave up, and it's showcasing Mulally's paycheck as proof the automaker can afford to do it. The union will begin negotiating a new four-year pact with Ford, as well as General Motors (GM) and Chrysler Group later this year.

Speaking Tuesday, at a three-day delegates' meeting in the Motor City, UAW President Bob King (pictured) said Ford, which has in recent years only hired temporary workers at entry-level wages, should make them full-time employees, the Detroit Free Press reported.

"When Alan Mulally can make over $50 million in a bonus, temporary workers have a right to a decent job and benefits," King said.

Next Goal: Organizing Foreign-Owned Factories

In addition to concessions granted two years ago, Ford's unionized workforce, along with those of GM and Chrysler, agreed to a two-tiered wage scale that pays entry-level workers about half the rate paid to more senior workers. Ford has hired about 2,100 workers as temporary employees at an entry level wage of about $14 an hour, according to the Free Press.

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King, 64, said he isn't opposed to entry-level wage jobs because it may help build the union's ranks. But he's also eager to get the best deal he can for his membership, and remains committed to increasing union representation within the overall auto industry.

The UAW president has his sights set on organizing American factories run by foreign-based automakers, including Japan's Toyota Motor (TM) and Germany's Daimler, parent of Mercedes-Benz. King says he expects to organize at least one non-union automaker this year.

He also urged UAW delegates Tuesday to be realistic as it sets a bargaining strategy for all of the industries where it represents workers.

Union members have to honest with themselves, King said. "If we don't have a plan to build the power to win these goals, then they become irrelevant."