Automotive News

Could outsourcing pickets be a solution?
By: David Barkholz covers IT and labor for Automotive News

UAW President Bob King's activist agenda includes having rank-and-file members demonstrate at Toyota dealers. I wonder how long that can be sustained.

King might consider a front-page story in the The Wall Street Journal today headlined: "To Protest Hiring of Nonunion Help, Union Hires Nonunion Pickets."

The story isn't about the UAW; it details how other unions and organizations are hiring the unemployed, often at minimum wage, to march in protests or to promote various causes.

Pretty crafty.

The Journal story says the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters hired picketers in front of offices in Washington, D.C., that leadership said was using nonunion labor. A union official unabashedly said it's hard to get busy members to turn out for such tasks.

Auto workers certainly fall into that same camp. After a hard week on an assembly line or stamping plant, the last thing a worker wants to do is give up some rest time to picket rather than spend time with family or run errands.

King says demonstrations against Toyota (he calls it "bannering") are under way at dealerships in California and New York. They are protesting to pressure Toyota to unionize its U.S. plants and punish the company for closing NUMMI this year after General Motors pulled out last year.

When will it end? I don't know - the union isn't publicizing an end date -- but how long can the protest go on?

Hiring people to collect signatures in political campaigns or on ballot issues is routine these days.

Might it become fashionable in labor circles to hire picketers?