The United Auto Workers union on Wednesday said its president, Bob King, had been appointed to the supervisory board of Opel AG, General Motors's loss-making German unit.
King was appointed by IG Metall, the German's metalworkers union, to serve as a labor representative on Opel's supervisory board, UAW spokeswoman Michele Martin told AFP.
The appointment takes effect on June 1.
King's presence on the board was quietly promoted by Opel's parent General Motors, which had worked closely with King during a sweeping restructuring of GM in 2009 and 2010.
King also was the union's top negotiator when it agreed to forego raises for senior employees at GM, Ford and Chrysler for the next four years.
He also has worked closely in the past with Steven Girsky, the GM vice chairman and the chairman of the Opel supervisory board, who is pushing to reorganize Opel's money-losing operations.
Since taking over as UAW president in 2010, King has stressed cooperation as a way to save and ultimately create jobs.
Once known as a firebrand, he has helped negotiations in recent years that have led to plant closings and major concessions by UAW members.
With his new appointment, he is being thrust into the middle of the confrontation between GM and Opel on one side and IG Metall, which recently said it will not accept any restructuring that includes plant closings.
GM's European operations, focused on the Opel and Vauxhall brands, have run up billions of dollars in losses over the past 10 years, and GM believes factory closures are critical to restoring profitability in the region.