By John D. Stoll

United Auto Workers President Dennis Williams indicated his organization can work with President-elect Donald Trump's position on key trade issues even though the 81-year-old union supported his opponent and has a long legacy of backing politicians from the Democratic Party.

Mr. Williams, speaking to media Thursday in Detroit, said he is prepared to talk with Mr. Trump about trade and sees "a great opportunity" to "find some common ground." Specifically, Mr. Trump has been a critic of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta, and criticized the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Mr. Williams also said he hopes Mr. Trump's positions on increasing infrastructure spending will lead to additional projects.

The UAW has long opposed Nafta and said TPP is problematic, citing concerns about job loss for U.S. manufacturing workers. The UAW, representing factory workers at Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co., Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and auto suppliers, has been hurt as Detroit car makers have increasingly moved production to Mexico and bought components from parts makers outside the U.S.

"We agree Nafta either needs to be renegotiated or ended," Mr. Williams said.

The UAW president's comments underscore the broad appeal Mr. Trump had during his campaign, leading him to perform unexpectedly well in Rust Belt states initially expected to vote for Hillary Clinton. Mr. Williams estimates at least 32% of UAW members voted forMr. Trump, and union officials detected anger within the rank-and-file in the days leading to the election.

The UAW initially expected lower support among its 400,000 members for Mr. Trump. The organization will conduct studies to get more concrete results. Mr. Williams said support may have been higher than 32% given the amount of people indicating they were undecided just before the election.

It is unclear if support from the UAW on trade will embolden Mr. Trump's trade proposal, which included slapping a 35% tariff on certain products shipped to the U.S. from Mexico. He consistently pointed to Ford, which is moving small-car production from Michigan to Mexico in coming years.

Write to John D. Stoll at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 10, 2016 15:08 ET (20:08 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2016 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.