DETROIT – The United Auto Workers union says it opposes one of President Obama's major economic and trade initiatives, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is running into growing opposition from his political allies.

The free-trade agreement would include 11 nations around the Pacific Rim and serve as a counterweight to China's growing economic influence throughout the region, according to Obama, who touted the benefits of the proposed pact in last year's presidential debates and during his State of the Union Address in February.

The TPP talks have been under way for three years, and Japan would like to participate in the next round of negotiations beginning in July, which requires a formal decision by those already involved in the talks. The common market that would be created by the TPP, in addition to Japan, includes the U.S. Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

With Japan on board, the TPP reportedly would cover about 40% of global economic output and one-third of all world trade, and China now is showing an interest in the trade pact as well. Obama and China President Xi Jinping are expected to discuss the subject during a 2-day summit meeting in California that starts today.

UAW President Bob King reversed three decades of union opposition to free trade and also surprised other unions in 2011 by supporting the Obama Admin.’s new FTA with South Korea because he believes it will help create jobs in the U.S.

But despite the political debt owed the White House in the wake of the U.S. auto industry bailout that critics long have argued was tilted in favor of the UAW, the union is challenging the proposed TPP, which Obama considers a key element of his second-term agenda.

“The UAW strongly opposes Japan’s entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, because their inclusion would undermine our nation’s ongoing economic recovery," King is quoted as saying.

The union predicts Japan’s inclusion would cost tens of thousands of automotive manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

“Although Japan’s trading partners have worked for decades to open the Japanese market to imported automobiles, Japan remains the most-closed automotive market in the world,” King says in a statement on the TPP. “Despite a Japanese automotive import tariff that is already at 0%, global import penetration remains less than 6%.

“We already have an enormous trade deficit in the automotive sector,” he adds. “For every 117 Japanese cars sold in the United States, only one American car is sold in Japan. Absent true reform, Japan’s entrance into the TPP would only worsen this situation.”

King accuses the Japanese government of deceptive practices, such as currency manipulation, to give its auto industry an unfair advantage. The yen has depreciated 23% against the dollar since October 2012 due to intervention by Prime Minster Shinzo Abe’s administration.

King also says Japanese auto makers manufacturing in the U.S. routinely violate global standards on workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively. The UAW for years has tried and failed to recruit members at Japanese auto plants in the southern part of the U.S.

Before Japan can be considered for membership in the TPP, King says the government must intervene with its domestic auto makers to guarantee they will fully honor labor standards set by the International Labor Organization, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the United Nations Global Compact, “and allow a fair, democratic process for workers to decide on union representation."