Skip to comments.Why the Tennessee Volkswagen Workers Voted Against the UAW
Posted on 02/16/2014 7:01:22 AM PST by SeekAndFind
The United Auto Workers union suffered a crushing defeat Friday, falling short in an election in which it seemed to have a clear path to organizing workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., the  Wall Street Journal  reported Saturday. The setback is a bitter defeat because the union had the cooperation of Volkswagen management and the aid of Germany’s powerful IG Metall union, yet it failed to win a majority among the plants 1,550 hourly workers.
One cannot emphasize the magnitude of this loss. What it clearly spells out is the irrelevance of the old industrial unions in todays world. They have become nothing less than reactionary institutions. It is no longer the heyday of the union movement, which once was necessary and helped create a middle class in our country in the 1930s and ’40s.
How different a situation existed in that bygone era. When Ford and GM workers tried to gain representation for collective bargaining, they were met with an onslaught of fierce opposition from the auto manufacturers. First there were the sit-down strikes  in 1936 and 1937 at GM and Chrysler, and the brutal attack on workers by Ford management. They responded to organizing with the famous attack on the workers by company thugs, goons, and the local police, who cooperated with management. The culmination was the most famous event in modern labors fight to organize, the Battle of the Overpass  at the River Rouge Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan.
In our own era, the workers at the Tennessee Volkswagen factory had the support and encouragement of Volkswagen for unionization. Both the UAW and the European IG Metall union convinced Volkswagen management to engage in talks with the UAW in the United States, and not even to propagandize against unionization among the workforce. As the WSJ article notes, the election was also extraordinary because Volkswagen chose to cooperate closely with the UAW. As a labor lawyer who previously worked for the leftist SEIU put it, usually, companies fight union drives.
So when a major corporation urges unionization and sides with the UAW, and the workers vote in a free NLRB-supervised election to not unionize, it is a very big deal indeed. Nationally, the decline in the strength of unions has had its effect on the UAW. During the heyday of the union, it represented 1.5 million workers; now, it represents only 400,000. If Walter Reuther were still alive, he would be stunned at the reversal of the fortunes of the union he worked so hard to build. Indeed, in Michigan — once the very stronghold of the union –the state has put into place a right-to-work law that allows workers to drop their membership in unions, including the UAW, if they choose to do so.
The other issue in the campaign was the effort of the UAW and Volkswagen to create what is called a works council, a committee composed of both union and nonunion employees who negotiate with management on day-to-day work issues that arise in the factory. Such councils are standard arrangements in German factories, as well as in other countries in Europe. They allow for settlement of issues in a manner that creates labor peace and promotes better conditions in the workplace, without the threat of a strike. But according to American labor law, they cannot be established unless an outside union like the UAW legally represents the workers. Because Volkswagen wanted one, they chose to support the UAW organizing effort.
When it comes to wages, it turns out that at the Southern plant, a starting worker earns $19.50 an hour without a union, while his counterpart working in Michigan earns only $15.50 an hour. So wages do not compel a worker to support unionization. The foreign- owned plants, it seems, pay better than the American auto manufacturers.
Then there are the unspoken social issues, which I’ll discuss on the following page.
Workers voting against the union are most likely socially conservative, standing against abortion and for the NRA on the issue of guns. They know very well that union dues go to PACs (in fact a union creation) and left-leaning candidates .
So how does the union explain its defeat? It does so by saying it lost due to outside interference. The union said in a statement  that it lost due to a firestorm of interference and threats from special interest groups. What were these groups doing, in particular? The union is undoubtedly referring to billboards paid for by one of Grover Norquists groups opposing unionization. Signs! Does the UAW really think an anti-union billboard forced them to lose? A sign is hardly anything like attacking workers with billy clubs and rifles, which was standard fare in the 1930s. Those attacks created sympathy for the union cause. The union undoubtedly had its own signs and literature, which workers freely read. As the union statement acknowledged, While we certainly would have liked a victory for workers here, we deeply respect the Volkswagen Global Group Works Council, Volkswagen management and (German union) IG Metall for doing their best to create a free and open atmosphere for workers to exercise their basic human right to form a union. (my emphasis)
Back in July of 1941, the CIOs favorite singing group, the Almanac Singers (composed of many different people, including Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Millard Lampell, Josh White and others), put out a famous album titled Talking Union. Its first verse went like this:
Now if you want higher wages let me tell you what to do
You got to talk to the workers in the shop with you
you got to build you a union, got to make it strong
But if you all stick together, boys, it wont be long
You get shorter hours, better working conditions
Vacations with pay. Take your kids to the seashore
It went on to say that if you wait for your boss to raise your pay/Well all be waiting till Judgment Day. Now the bosses pay unorganized Southern labor better than they pay Michigans unionized autoworkers, plant conditions are good, and every worker in the plant gets vacation. The old fight was won long ago, and no wonder Southern workers are now singing, You cant scare me, Im not sticking with the union. As another modern-day singer put it so well, the times they are a-changin’.
Our president Obama also spoke out in favor of the union and against the opposition by Corker and other politicians; I guess “outside interference” is bad if its someone who is against the side of the UAW; its just dandy if its someone external who supports the UAW. Look for an IRS audit of the opposition.
Great news for these liberal parasitic leeches are being reduced in size like a cancerous tumor succumbing to radiation therapy.
Thank Governor Walker in Wisconsin for the initial break through therapy.
However, I do not look for Obama and the NLRB to let this one go. Look for a “do-over” because of “unfair outside influence”.
Occasionally we get some good news here and there, this is one of those good news stories to be savored.
The UAW has too much invested in taking over VW to let this go...
That's because the unions sold out the new workers to protect the paychecks and pensions of the old workers. The then current union members were happy to have the newbies make a lot less rather than share in pay cuts.
It was interesting that the author mentioned company violence against workers from eighty years ago but didn't mention that just about all recent labor violence in the past half century has been by the goon-ions. Not the type of people I would want at my factory if I was a worker there.
“The other issue in the campaign was the effort of the UAW and Volkswagen to create what is called a works council, a committee composed of both union and nonunion employees who negotiate with management on day-to-day work issues that arise in the factory. Such councils are standard arrangements in German factories, as well as in other countries in Europe. They allow for settlement of issues in a manner that creates labor peace and promotes better conditions in the workplace, without the threat of a strike. But according to American labor law, they cannot be established unless an outside union like the UAW legally represents the workers. Because Volkswagen wanted one, they chose to support the UAW organizing effort.”
Part of this is B.S.
Yes, an OFFICIAL “Works Council” - which also has some contractural demands on the employer as to the range of the works council mandate, requires “union representation” under U.S. labor law.
HOWEVER, without the imprimature of a contracturally established works council and without a contracturally employer agreed-to mandate as to the authority of the works council, employers are free to establish the same kind of mechanism, without agreeing to how far it’s writ will be allowed to go, on a voluntary basis, and the Asian automakers have been doing it for years.
The difference is that IG Metal and UAW ONLY want such works councils on a contractural basis, where the employer and its employees are OFFICIALLY and contracturally agreeing to just how far a works council mandate goes. In other words, IG Metal and the UAW don’t want works councils that while trying to help settle shop floor issues are NOT under their control. The UAW contracts insert UAW reps,all over the production process and some are paid by the automaker but have no jobs other than their inside the production process union rep role. The UAW want any works council to ONLY exist on contracturally agreed terms where the employer is agreeing to the councils mandate.
That’s the difference, not that it cannot be done under U.S. labor law that it cannot be done how the UAW wants it done. Voluntarily and without a union mandate on it an automaker can do it as a management tool of their own.
- nudger - nudger
- shover - shover
- executive orders - executive orders
The article makes it quite clear that VW Germany WANTED or at least approved the Union...
Seeing how they are paid more in TN than Detroit, maybe VW let it be known that if the workers joined the Union they would adjust salaries accordingly...
Like the ‘old days’ when the ??? were complaining that Crack Dealers got more time than ‘straight’ Coke dealers because the Crack dealer was more likely to be NON WHITE?
I figured yes, there definitely is a disparity here and it is grossly unfair, so make sure the White coke dealers mandatory sentences were raised so they would match the NON WHITE sentences.
MAYBE the Unions will organize them?
I think more than a few crack/coke dealers take the stand there is enough money being passed around and they aren’t going to ‘share’ it with outsiders.
Of course, if you argue the working conditions to YOUR supplier, they just shoot all till they find the dumbies they are looking for.
Now THAT is organization....
(Wiping hands motion).
Yep, the UAW is already saying this isn’t over.
The car companies are locating plants in the Southern states to get away from unions, but the unions want in anyway. I get their point but if they get their way, the plant might shut down and move again to a different state. End result is that the UAW will be putting more people out of work. VW ought to remind the UAW that Mexico is VW friendly.
Right. Radosh is either not up to speed or is a journo-lister “fixing the news” along with Ezra Klein. I remember the assault by construction workers on the Altemose Construction company site at the Valley Forge PA s Sheraton in June, 1972:http://books.google.com/books?id=5QVz3n8724IC&pg=PA355&lpg=PA355&dq=valley+forge+sheraton+june+1972&source=bl&ots=fAJxmpoDlL&sig=V4PYr0qxLym0_Q9mKiMvTMGjzjk&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FdcAU8D0BcSEyAGimID4DQ&ved=0CGIQ6AEwBg#v=onepage&q=valley%20forge%20sheraton%20june%201972&f=false
Why would a worker paid union dues and take money out of his pocket when he ALREADY makes more than the union UAW thug ?
About 20 years ago, VW opened a brand new assembly plant in Pennsylvania. 100% UAW closed shop. It suffered 6 strikes in 7 years before VW closed it.
UAW dues are about $800/year. What were the workers going to get for that? They were supposedly told that it would go into a strike fund? There ya go... I'm sure that stats are available to give us the percentage of the 1,500 workers in Tenn that are African-American. I'm guessing about 30%. Thank God we have secret ballots..despite union attempts to end it...and we'll never know the answer..but I'd wager that 90%+ of black workers there voted FOR the UAW..
I’ve read several articles too and this is first time I’ve seen the actual UAW vs non-UAW wages compared. Hmmm looks like they are trying to keep that little bit very, very quiet.
The greatest problem for unions is their yoke at the neck with Bolshecrats. Until, unions realize they have a better future working with companies to build products more efficiently, instead of what they can get out of a product, they will never achieve what they want. Their relations with the Bolshies, who will only add to their woes with the force of law, will eventually bite them in the ass. That relation can only result in wage and price controls.
The lesson to be LEARNED is that unions will NOT give up...fascists and socialists must continually be defeated.
The time for celebration is over. Now is the time for CAPITALISTS and CHRISTIANS and CONSTITUTIONALISTS to continue EDUCATING those 626 workers who voted YES as to why UNIONS SHOULD NOT BE IN THEIR WORKPLACE.
I remember a month ago everyone saying Peyton Manning was going to win the Super Bowl.
I remember in 1994 a lot of conservatives saying we had turned a corner and that the nation was going to understand why Democrats were a defeated party.
I remember in 2008 when everyone thought Republicans could NEVER get a majority in the House of Representatives....
My point is, ALL OF THOSE FOLKS WERE WRONG.
We are wrong, wrong, wrong, to gloat over this defeat for the fascists. They will just come back again, determined to take over the lives of those VW workers.
Don’t stop the attack on them. Keep teaching and reaching out to those who think unions are great. The battle is over.
The war is not.
The Union/DOJ scheme will be to hold another vote. Of course, those who voted against the Union the first time around won’t be allowed to vote this time because they were controlled by outside influences and we can’t have that in a free and open election. Now all they have to do is to figure out how everyone voted. I suspect that they already know.
The main union stronghold now is the government labor forces.
We’re paying for that everyday.