Not that I WANT to see people get pissed during the Love Symposium, but I thought I’d mention this…
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — In a defeat for organized labor in the South, employees at the Volkswagen plant here voted 712 to 626 against joining the United Automobile Workers.
The loss is an especially stinging blow for U.A.W. because Volkswagen did not even oppose the unionization drive. The union’s defeat — in what was one of the most closely watched unionization votes in decades — is expected to slow, perhaps stymie, the union’s long-term plans to organize other auto plants in the South.
Volkswagen’s interest here was to allow employees to establish the sort of “works council” that other VW plants across the world have. In the U.S., as I understand it, labor law requires that workers be unionized in order to set up this kind of structure. VW allowed the UAW access to workers but didn’t take a position one way or the other.
Despite the South being hostile to unionization, the margin of defeat was pretty narrow at 53% to 47%. Obviously, there was substantial support for unionizing. While there were valid to vote against unionizing – many didn’t see it as necessary – the amount of outside influence this unionization campaign attracted, especially from the opposition, was disproportionate to its significance (and equating unionization with Chattanooga ending up like Detroit was, frankly, stupid).
In my opinion, the plant was an appropriate and unique target for union organizers because the work culture at Volkwagen encourages collaboration between the white and blue collar workers. Even if the UAW was successful in its organizing drive, I fail to see how organizing 1,600 workers in a very favorable situation would translate into future successes at plants where there is less support for unionizing.
Anti-union groups didn’t see it that way, and their response may have influenced the outcome.