The United Auto Workers union has sent letters and surveys to workers at the Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky plant in Georgetown, Ky., to gauge their interest in being organized.
“Whether you respond and how you respond will play a critical role in helping determine whether it would be a responsible decision for the UAW to commit significant resources to supporting Toyota workers’ efforts to organize,” said the letter, which was signed by UAW President Stephen Yokich and other union officials.
A spokeswoman for Toyota’s North American manufacturing headquarters in Erlanger, Ky., was unconcerned about the UAW letter on Monday.
“We’re not surprised. We’ve been expecting that survey for weeks,” spokeswoman Barbara McDaniel said. “That’s a strategy the UAW has used at other transplants where they haven’t seen much interest.”
“Transplant” refers to Japanese-owned auto factories located in the United States. The UAW has been unsuccessful in organizing any transplant factories. Toyota makes its top-selling Camry sedan, the Sienna minivan and the luxury Avalon sedan at Georgetown. The 8,000-employee complex also has stamping operations and makes engines and plastics components.
Some Toyota workers at Georgetown began a campaign to organize the 4,000-5,000 hourly workers there last August. Supporters of unionizing say that wages, disability benefits and pension benefits at Toyota trail those of UAW-organized auto workers at Ford and General Motors and that hourly workers have no voice in how the plant is run.
Toyota argues that its wages and benefits are competitive with other automakers and that it favors an open, direct communication between management and its “team members.”
The UAW has declined comment on the Georgetown situation previously. No one answered the phone at its Detroit headquarters late Monday afternoon.