AP Source: UAW to nominate King as next president

AP News
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Posted: Dec 11, 2009 6:22 PM

Leaders of the United Auto Workers union plan to nominate top Ford Motor Co. negotiator Bob King to be the union's next president, according to a person familiar with the process.

The union's administration caucus, which is led by current UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, will nominate King as part of a slate of candidates at a meeting of local plant leaders Wednesday. Other groups are free to nominate separate candidates. The person asked not to be identified because the nomination has not yet been announced.

Union members will elect a new president at a convention in June.

Gettelfinger is following UAW policy by stepping down at age 65. King, 63, is currently a vice president at the UAW and its top Ford negotiator.

King has long been considered a possible candidate for the union's presidency. He started working for Ford in 1970 after graduating from the University of Michigan and serving in the U.S. Army. King, who also has a law degree, was re-elected to his third term as a union vice president in 2006.

Still, King's future appeared to be in jeopardy last fall when workers overwhelmingly rejected cost-cutting contract changes that King and Ford had agreed to. Workers at the Dearborn Truck Plant near Detroit honked horns and shouted down King when he visited to explain the changes.

The vote left Ford at a cost disadvantage to its rivals, General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, and labor experts viewed the incident as a slap to King and other union leaders.

King did successfully negotiate the UAW's 2007 contract with Ford, which helped the automaker cut significant costs by establishing a union-run trust to fund retirees' health care. He also has organized workers at auto parts suppliers and was arrested for civil disobedience during the Detroit newspaper workers' strike in the mid-1990s.