Saturday, February 15, 2014

UAW Defeated in Tennessee

Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga turned down the chance at joining the United Auto Workers union by a margin of  712 to 626.

Volkswagen management stayed neutral, saying it was up to the workers to decide.   Volkswagen also urged 'third parties' to stay out of the unionization battle but, hey, that's not the way it works in the South.

Republican politicians in Tennessee as well as some outside conservative groups made sure that the plant’s nearly 1,600 workers heard plenty of anti-union arguments.
Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican, warned that auto part suppliers would not locate in the Chattanooga area if the plant was unionized, while Senator Bob Corker said Volkswagen executives had told him that the plant would add a new production line, making SUVs, if the workers rejected the U.A.W. In a series of interviews this week, Mr. Corker, a Republican and a former mayor of Chattanooga, asserted that a union victory would make Volkswagen less competitive and hurt workers’ living standards.
To step up the pressure, State Senator Bo Watson, who represents a suburb of Chattanooga, warned that the Republican-controlled legislature was unlikely to approve further subsidies to Volkswagen if the workers embraced the U.A.W., a threat that might discourage the company from expanding.
At the end of the day it seems the workers were effectively cowed into voting against the union.  To Volkswagen's credit, the company did intervene to reject some of the Republican's arguments as fearmongering.  It sounds like the herren of Wolfsburg don't quite get how things work in the Deep Dark South.


Dana said...

Wouldn't surprise me much if the product out of that plant turns out to be low quality and VW relocates in a few years.

Elliott Taylor said...

This is what happens in the absence of laws designed to prevent employers or their agents (State of Tennessee) from interfering with a lawful certification drive.

I've seen this happen in Canada. Employees of a particular grocery chain in Western Canada attempted to organize under UFCW a few years ago. The employer resorted to dirty tricks like coercing employees into signing decertification requests in exchange for their pay stub. When the whole thing ends up in a tribunal, the employer fires a few "troublemakers" to establish an atmosphere of terror, and threatens everyone else. Anyone who doesn't put their head down and go back to work gets the full treatment from the jackboot lawyers representing the employer. One employee called to testify in tribunal had their confidentially disclosed medical records brought into evidence in an effort to impugn them. They are that dirty. They are slimy ruthless bastards who will stop at nothing to defend their profit margins.

What happened in Tennessee happens in Canada all the time. It just doesn't get the same press here.

The Mound of Sound said...

Dana, it wouldn't be VW's first retreat from the South.

Elliott, labour is always under threat. Worse yet, our current federal government doesn't hesitate to put the boot in at the first opportunity.