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Union Leader Confident Concessions Will Be Repaid

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The man who will lead the UAW into delicate contract talks with the major auto makers is expressing confidence that his members will be repaid for the concessions they've made over the years.

United Auto Worker President Bob King and his members are reading all the headlines these days about huge profits at General Motors and Chrysler, and the typical auto worker who has given plenty when the car companies were down, are ready to get something back now that the autos are back. Mr. King does not want to get greedy for fear it could catapiluate the autos back into the red.

Bob King: "This membership has to be rewarded for the sacrifices they have made and we have to understand that we have to do it in a way that doesn't make these companies uncompetitive in the long run."

That kind of conciliatory comment is a far cry from years ago when UAW presidents were more militant entering contract talks with the automakers. Those days are gone, King says. He says there is no longer an adversarial relationship.

King is especially upbeat about the future because he figures the foreign competitors are going to lose market share due to the recent earthquakes.

Bob King: "Market share will go up because Japanese cars won't be available."

As for the worker on the line who wants to beef up his or her check, King says that has to be balanced with creating more jobs, which he will bargain for. He says jobs will continue to be critically important. The contract talks being in earnest this fall.

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