Friday workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga assembly plant rejected a UAW attempt to unionize them.
“If the union can’t win [in Chattanooga], it can’t win anywhere.”
The defeat is especially devastating for UAW because they had German-owned Volkswagen’s blessing to organize the plant, and regarded this as their best chance to unionize a southern automotive plant:
This wasn’t merely one more failed union organizing attempt. The UAW and its chief Bob King spent years working toward this vote as part of its strategy to organize plants in the American South, and all the stars were aligned in its favor.
Mr. King colluded with IG Metall, Volkswagen’s German union, to neutralize Volkswagen management. It pitched the collaborative vision of a labor-management “works council” at the plant that makes the VW Passat, and it claimed to have learned its lesson from the confrontation and strikes that hurt Detroit’s auto makers. Volkswagen management gave the union the run of the plant to lobby workers while denying similar privileges to union opponents.
So it’s nothing short of remarkable that the union couldn’t make the sale. The failure reflects how well the plant’s workers are doing without a union, to the tune of $27 an hour including benefits. The defeat also speaks to the harm the UAW has done to itself by driving GM and Chrysler to bankruptcy and pushing companies like Caterpillar to move new production from union plants.
Reports make it appear that unionized workers would actually end up taking $3 an hour less home after union dues were deducted. Gee, who could possibly turn down such a bounty?
Said one worker: “‘Look at every company that’s went bankrupt or shut down or had an issue,’ he said. ‘What is the one common denominator with all those companies? UAW. We don’t need it.’”
More from the Wall Street journal editorial:
But the fact that unions must rely on brute government force shows how out of touch they are with modern economic reality. American manufacturing is making a modest comeback with the help of rising labor costs in China and the American energy revolution. But it could stage an even bigger revival without the threat that unions could once again make American production uncompetitive. The last thing the U.S. economy needs is to import European labor practices. In Chattanooga, and not for the first time, the workers are smarter than management.
The results also shows why “card check” is bunk.
For all the talk of “Republican interference” (local Tennessee elected officials like Senator Bob Corker opposed the unionization), little mention has been made of President Obama’s sticky fingers.
It also ignores the grassroots efforts of plant workers themselves to stave off unionization, for many good reasons:
We are already among the highest paid in the region and, when compared to UAW-represented employees at the Detroit Three with the same length of service, VW Team Members make more.
The UAW is increasing union dues by 25% to fund a strike against Detroit automakers. The UAW will use our money to fund their strike after years of irresponsible spending (e.g., the UAW golf course and Las Vegas conventions). Remember, about half of the money you pay to the UAW will be sent directly to the union in Detroit.
The UAW wanted to unionize us without an election. When that failed, behind closed doors, they got VW to agree to a 9-day “ambush” election, giving UAW organizers dispatched from Detroit access to our plant.
And a defeat for unions is a defeat for the Democratic Party:
Unions are the single biggest source of funds for Democratic causes and candidates.
According to Opensecrets.org, of the top ten political donors in the last 25 years, six are unions. And they all overwhelmingly donated to Democratic causes and candidates. The UAW, for instance, has donated $41.7 million over the last 25 years. That’s well over twice what the infamous Koch brothers have donated, mostly to Republican causes. (The Koch brothers actually gave 8 percent of their money to Democratic causes and candidates.)
Of the UAW’s donations, 71 percent went to Democrats and zero percent went to Republicans. The other 29 percent went to organizations not formally affiliated with either party but it’s a safe bet they are left-leaning. Unions can also mobilize large numbers of “volunteers” for phone banks and get-out-the-vote efforts.
Thus, unions have such a disproportionate influence over the Democratic Party for the simplest of reasons: they buy it. How much longer that will continue is a good question. There is no reason to think that the long-term decline in the private sector will not continue. And in places where union dues are no longer collected by governments (such as in Wisconsin), public sector union members have been leaving in droves. Obviously, they don’t think they have been getting value for their money. That is also a trend that is likely to spread.
Here’s an analysis from the enemy camp of five things the UAW did wrong.
A few Tweets:
And just in case you don’t get that last reference…