Skip to comments.VW Workers Escape from Detroit: Rejects UAW bid to subsume them into their union
Posted on 02/18/2014 6:54:44 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Workers at Volkswagens sedan factory in Chattanooga, Tenn., soundly rejected a bid by the United Automobile Workers (UAW) to subsume them. In this the workers were considerably wiser than VW management, which took an officially neutral stance on the unionization effort but is in general kindly disposed to efforts to transplant the workers council model, with which it has enjoyed success at home, from Germany to its American operations. German automakers maintain a largely cooperative relationship with IG Metall, the main autoworkers union. But the UAW is a very different sort of beast, a fact not lost on the Chattanooga workers who handed it an enormously important defeat.
Competitive wages are part of the calculation, but they are far from a ruling consideration. The partisans of organized labor point out that German marques such as VW and Mercedes-Benz sell a great many cars and make healthy profits despite paying their comprehensively unionized work forces about two-thirds more than what the average American autoworker earns: roughly $67 an hour in wages and benefits for the Germans versus $40 an hour for a General Motors employee. (The frequently cited figure of $73 an hour for GM includes heavy retiree costs and does not reflect the compensation of active workers.) The U.S. labor camp takes precisely the wrong lesson from this situation: Germany builds twice as many cars as the U.S. while paying its workers twice as much, as one columnist put it. Another way of putting it: GM managed to go bankrupt while paying its workers just over half of what Daimler pays its own.
Inflating paychecks is not the only way to hobble a car company. Beyond wages and benefits, the UAW afflicted the domestic automobile industry with ridiculous and cumbrous work rules a recent volume of which weighed in at 22 pounds and, perhaps more important, with a poisonous, us-and-them attitude regarding the firms that employed its members. The combination of UAW micromanagement and adversarial culture, not wages per se, is what helped to do in GM. One young female manager tells the story of having an exotic dancer/prostitute making an appearance at her facility in the middle of the work day to transact business with UAW employees; when she complained, the union representative demanded to know which work rule the men in question were breaking. Who wrote work rules to cover prostitution at lunch? she asked. Another UAW member urinated on a supervisor to protest a disciplinary action, and the union protected his job. That is the problem with the UAW.
Worse, the UAW is corrupt, as dozens of headlines in recent years regarding fraud, embezzlement, and the like on the part of its officers document. And that corruption is one of the unacknowledged reasons why some managers do not mind doing business with the UAW. Consider the case of the UAW members who filed a complaint that full-time reps log in hours of company-paid overtime not spent on the job, potentially increasing annual income by $50,000, while the company looks the other way. This is a longstanding practice at many Big Three plants. In return, according to members interviewed, reps soft-pedal grievances and health and safety complaints. The popular narrative of organized labor that unions are a necessary counterbalance to managements that care little or nothing about workers rests on the assumption that unions such as the UAW are honest stewards of their members interests. They are no such thing. Even if VW workers wanted a union, it is far from obvious that getting into bed with the UAW would be the right course of action.
The UAW spent millions of dollars trying to influence the Chattanooga vote. It has given away some $45 million of its members money in political donations, largely to Democrats, since 1990, and it has spent some $31 million on lobbyists since 1998. It spent $15.5 million on campaign donations in the 2012 cycle alone. For that kind of money, it could have become a major shareholder in one of the companies it seeks to influence probably a better investment of its members dues.
The UAW is a moribund organization, having lost three-quarters of its members in recent decades, but the power and profit its bosses enjoy is a strong incentive to fight for every last penny, a project in which it can count upon the support of Barack Obama and other Democratic pooh-bahs who benefit from its financial support and manpower. The transplant automakers, which operate as a rule in right-to-work states, are an important economic success story, one of the major bastions of high-paying manufacturing jobs. The ladies and gentlemen in Tennessee are backing the right horse.
Good. Less votes for Gary Peters.
Fatso Beckel was just on FNC blaming racism and southern culture...
I despise that man. Well, maybe despise is too strong a word............................No, despise is absolutely correct, what a disgusting individual.
Lost by 87 votes with 165 workers abstaining.
Something tells me Obama’s NRLB is gonna give them a Mulligan.
He obviously doesn’t think southerners can think and vote for themselves. Typical northern elitist. I wish stupid greedy liberals would stay out of the business of the red states where things are working just fine.
What a surprise that is.....
I'll give the reader a personal story to illustrate this further. About 8 years ago I was attending a pre-delivery run-off of a large piece of industrial equipment. The techs on the manufacturer's assembly floor were spitting mad about the machine they had just delivered to the UAW at Allison Transmission.
This machine was to replace an older piece of equipment, but they actually had to reprogram it to match the much slower rate of production as the older piece. The maddening part was both machines were robotically attended. The UAW's complaint was the new robot would be working too fast.
Make sure you buy the newest design. The original remake was a nightmare to fix.
The Chattanooga plant builds the VW Passat, of which I am a happy owner. VW is about to introduce a new SUV-type vehicle, and they are deciding where it will be produced - it’s between Mexico and Chattanooga. Bob Corker, Tennessee Senator, has recently stated that he has inside information that if the Chattanooga workers reject the UAW, that the plant would get the new vehicle (Corker is vehemently opposed to the UAW - good for him). He made a public statement about this just prior to the vote, so the UAW is saying that the vote was improperly influenced. Should be interesting to see how this plays out. Kudos to the workers who voted against the UAW!
I’ll match your experience. NYC, late seventies when the open office cubicles were converting commercial offices spaces. One furniture mfr had a system which had work surfaces and files hanging from the pre-fab steel panel frames. Biggest problem with the open office plan was to get flexible electric service to each cubicle without limiting flexibility of layout change. The mfr had developed a pre-wired and UL tested and approved modular wiring system, plug and play easy for bldg maintenance staff to make the changes. Faster and cheaper initial installation. Time being money at high rent rates.
One of the top ten banks had several floors of about 25,000 sf each on Park Avenue changing over to the new panels. Semis were unloading pallets overnight to stock the floors. I went to watch and inspect the first units being placed. Nifty system. Oops along comes electricians union rep. “Tools down!”. Seems the buildings union contract didn’t cover pre-wired units. Work stopped completely on the job until union thugs strong armed an interim solution. Since the local had jurisdiction over all electrical work, they would dis-assemble the wiring harnesses and receptacles and switches and then re-assembly the same components in the same configuration.
You can guess the effect this had on Manhattan office redesign, a constant never ending process.
HOORAY 712! There are enough parasitic hands in your pocket. Have you looked at your pay stub?
The BIGGEST hands before your money gets to your pocket is BIG GOVERNMENT & BIG INSURANCE (socialization of risk). FICA-MED, U.S. FICA, FED INC TAX, STATE INC TAX, sometimes CITY INC TAX.
The BIGGEST hands in all of your pockets as your money leaves is BIG GOVERNMENT (just about everything you purchase with what remains of your paycheck is taxed to feed the BIG GOVERNMENT SOCIALIST LEVIATHAN).
You are being plundered by socialist parasites.
BIG GOVERNMENT IS CRONY SOCIALISM (unions are an integral part of BIG GOVERNMENT)
Question: I read somewheres that the UAW had told VW workers in Tenn that if they voted for the union, they wouldn’t have to pay dues for a few years. Can anyone confirm this? It sounds credible, and if true, makes the vote against the UAW even more amazing..
Back in 1957 I was working as a typesetter (Linotype) on a small weekly in upstate New York. We had four operators. At that time, in order to join the International Typographers Union, you had to set two galleys an hour (44 inches of two inch wide type) with no more than three typos.
One of the guys went for the test, passed, and went to work for one of the big New Jersey dailies for some really good money (over the $2 an hour we were making, which was good in those days).
First day on the job and he starts cranking out two galleys an hour. In a little while, the shop steward comes over and asks "Whaddya tryin' to do - put a fellow worker out of a job?" The deal was, two galleys to get in, but no more than one galley an hour on the job.
I figured that if you got into the habit of holding back, soon you wouldn't be able to produce at an employable rate elsewhere, and for 13 years was able to avoid the unions.
Finally had to join one in 1967 if I wanted a job in San Diego, CA (and I did) so I paid my $250 "entrance fee" and joined up - and was treated FAR worse by my employers than I ever was in non-union shops. Complaints to the union were brushed off. In the past, whenever I need some extra dough, I moonlighted at another shop. When I asked to do that, I was given the "put a fellow worker" routine. I felt like a serf - trapped.
Late 1967 I kissed off 13 years in the print trade and went into something called computer programming - but that's another over-a-beer story.
Fear that black workers would take whites’ jobs haunted the labor movement for generations. The AFL craft unions became solidly racist.
These policies of the unions were self-defeating. By refusing to admit blacks, they were assuring that there remained a group of workers that employers could turn to in order to bring down wages or to apply pressure during strikes. It wasn’t until later in the twentieth century that union leaders began to look beyond their own prejudices to see that solidarity across racial lines made sense.