The United Auto Workers' top leaders have proposed Bob King to succeed Ron Gettelfinger as president, and asked members to confirm his nomination at the union's convention in June.

"To have their endorsement is very humbling," King told Dow Jones. "I think you will see a resurgence of the labour movement."

King, 63, is currently a UAW vice president and heads the union's Ford negotiating group.

If confirmed, King will be sworn in on 17 June and serve a one-year term since union rules bar leaders from serving beyond age 65. Members send delegates to vote at the convention, which will take place in Detroit. The nomination isn't likely to face any serious opposition, Dow Jones said.

"They would be facing Bob," UAW president Ron Gettelfinger joked during a press conference Wednesday. "Bob will be the right person to lead us forward. He is relentless and he is a great negotiator."

King, who graduated from the University of Michigan and also holds a law degree, stands to inherit a union that is shrinking in membership but now holds more power, thanks to its ownership and board member seats at Chrysler Group and General Motors.

Gettelfinger said the union had bottomed out in the auto industry and was looking forward to growth. Its membership has slipped below 450,000.

King reiterated that theme, saying that he wants more union organising and help to improve the working standards throughout a variety of industries.

Gettelfinger said he was at fault for not getting a concession vote confirmed by Ford workers. Members rejected the changes in November which were pushed by King and Gettelfinger.

Separately, Gettelfinger said the union had hired Eric Henry to serve as chief investment officer to oversee the retiree trust funds created by Ford, General Motors and Chrysler.

Henry is the former head of the Texas Municipal Retirement System Fund. During his two years he oversaw the US$14bn fund serving about 800 Texas cities.

He will work in Ann Arbor, Michigan and handle the three auto funds valued at a total of more than $35 billion. The auto makers and the union agreed to create the funds to cover future health care costs.