While Bob King, president of the United Auto Workers, may already be busy, things are about to get a lot busier: King has been appointed to Opel AG , General Motors’ German unit that continues hanging onto dear life.
Appointed by the German metalworker’s union IG Metall, King will step in as the Opel board’s labor representative on June 1. Perhaps the biggest hurdle he will have to tackle will be mediating the issues among GM, Opel, and IG Metall. As Opel’s losses continue to pile up, and GM looks to slash the European workforce to save costs, he’ll be thrown right into the fire as IG Metall refuses to accept any restructuring that includes plant closures.
IG Metall continues to stand its ground while GM’s U.S. shareholders have turned up the pressure to cut production in Europe and, with King’s background, it should be interesting to see how he will attempt to resolve the situation. Since he became the UAW president in 2010, King has emphasized that cooperation is the way to save jobs, which is exactly what Opel needs. King’s resume includes working alongside GM in its restructuring in 2009 and 2010, and serving as the top negotiator when GM, Ford, and Chrysler agreed to forgo raises for senior employees for the next four years.