Economy, Regs, & Taxes

Volkswagen Rejects UAW

Feb. 17, 2014

The United Auto Workers effort to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga is viewed as a bellwether for the UAW’s future in the South. Most Southern states are “right-to-work states” where workers cannot be forced to join a union. Thus, unions don’t have the grip on manufacturing that they do in the North and Midwest. Fortunately, Chattanooga Volkswagen workers rejected the union on a 712-626 secret ballot vote.

Make no mistake – this was a huge and welcome defeat for the UAW. The union pushed hard because it has shriveled to roughly a quarter of its once-mighty membership, and it wants to expand into the South where many automakers have set up non-union factories. Additionally, the defeat came as even Volkswagen management didn’t exactly oppose unionization because of the influence on its board of the powerful German steelworkers' union, IG Metall. Plant management reportedly allowed the union access to the assembly floor to lobby workers while denying the same privilege to opponents.

As The Wall Street Journal wrote, “[I]t’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.” The UAW may blame politicians like Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) and other “outside groups” for the defeat, but many of VW’s workers pointed to the UAW’s history over the last 30 years as more than enough reason to keep it out.

Ever eager to inject himself into the story, Barack Obama used his bully pulpit to criticize the vote, accusing union opponents of being “more concerned about German shareholders than American workers.” Evidently, at least some of those American workers disagree. The bottom line is that the unions including the UAW are largely responsible for the bankrupt wasteland of Detroit. Once proudly known as the Motor City, the whole city is now up on blocks. We’re thankful Chattanooga didn’t go down that road.

View all comments

26 Comments

READY4ACHANGE in ILLINOIS said:

Way to go Chattanooga!! I knew I loved this beautiful city for a reason!

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 10:32 AM

Elaine in Nashville,TN said:

Seems as if there is some level of intelligence alive and well in the South, which the Libs paint as a bunch of dumb red necks...sorry Libs...sensibility pays off!

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 11:15 AM

Gene Royer in Houston, TX said:

Obama is a socialist, and socialism is at the heart of this Administration's push to centralize its power even more. Older citizens can remember Walter Reuther, the union thug who rose to UAW power via violence against right-to-work Americans. Our liberal media hallows him as a hero. Are we surprised?

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 11:35 AM

JANE in ST. PETERSBURG said:

DETROIT IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE THAT WE SHOULD REJECT UNIONS.

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 11:57 AM

JANE in ST. PETERSBURG said:

I'M PROUD OF THOSE WORKERS IN TENNESSEE. UNLIKE LIBERAL THINKING, SOUTHERNERS ARE MUCH SMARTER THAN THEY WANT TO THINK.

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 11:58 AM

billy396 in ohio said:

I am slightly surprised and highly elated that the UAW was defeated at Volkswagen in Tennessee. I thought that the combination of the shoving from the NLRB combined with the push from IG Metall would ensure that workers wouldn't get to know the truth about the UAW. I see now that those workers have educated themselves regarding the mistake that is unionization. I happen to work for a major telecommunications firm which is under the CWA. This union steals my money and gives it to Democrats in Washington to further the union's interests, not mine. I have no control over how my union dollars are spent, and unfortunately, I don't live in a right-to-work state. Every state should be right-to-work states. That would not only save millions of hard-earned dollars from being wasted, but it would weaken the stranglehold that the Democrats have on our country.

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Jiggs in Millen, GA said:

As usual, our Nanny-in-Chief has to stick his nose in theis union thing. We would be so much better off if Obama would just be the President we want rather then try to micromanage everything to the country's detriment. As Will Rogers once opined: "Politicians should never overlook the opportunity to shut up." He is the poster child for the Yada, Yada, Yada crowd down here we call "The Mouthes of the South," all sound and fury, but no substance and with the depth of a bird bath.

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 12:22 PM

JWH in "The Republic of Texas" said:

Hopefully these workers looked at Detroit and said NO WAY!

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 12:31 PM

TheTexasCooke in Lockhart, Texas said:

The UAE has shrunk to a quarter it's former size because it, and it alone, destroyed the automobile industry in the United States. And FINALLY the auto workers have figured that out. Karma is a b*tch!

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 12:37 PM

PaulRod in Kansas City MO said:

Hey, why is it that nobody ever pickets the UAW headquarters in Detroit?

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 12:50 PM

HardThought in Kansas replied:

Not allowed to carry weapons for self defense is the reason Detroit isn't picketed.

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Robert E. in TN said:

Unions are the only people who have out smarted themselves (which wasn't very hard, by the way).. They have fought for so much for so long that everything they fought for is now Federal Law and they are no longer needed !!!! They don't yet realize they have worked themselves out of a job....DELETE UNIONS and the NLRB !!! They take wages from employees to buy more SOCIALISM for America and force jobs overseas... Thank You Chattanooga for standing up for what's right !!!

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 1:10 PM

Keith in Lebanon PA said:

I'm thrilled the workers made the right decision, but the vote is still a bit too close for my comfort. Loved the comparison pictures.

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 2:15 PM

John Summers in Tennessee said:

There have been times in our nation's history when unions were desperately needed to protect the safety and welfare of employees, who, in many cases, were de facto prisoners and slaves of their employers--the plight of the coal miners in WV in the late 1800s and early 1900s comes to mind. However, in recent years, most of what information is widely available regarding the UAW is that the bailout that was "necessary" to keep GM and Chrysler from going under was perceived by most folks as being precipitated by the UAW's unreasonable bargaining to win unsustainable retirement benefits for its retirees as the impetus driving those two companies into bankruptcy. The fact is, if workers feel that they have a safe environment in which to work, if they feel they are receiving a fair wage, if they feel the hours they are working are reasonable, and if they feel they have reasonable and adequate benefits as employees, they will feel no need to unionize--the company is already meeting the needs for which unions were originally created. Obviously, that is the way the majority of the workers at VW-Chattanooga feel, in spite of VW practically handing the factory to the UAW on a silver platter. Naturally, because much of his support has come from unions like the UAW, Comrade Dear Leader feels the need to criticize anyone who feels that the union is unnecessary in that plant.

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 2:21 PM

sgtken in Pa said:

Why do these union leaders (?) make so much more money then their members? Is this not what they complain about in business. And why do they have these fancy cars that they can buy for $1.00 after a year, and why do the members pay so the leaders (?) can eat in fancy restaurants and stay at fancy hotels? WHY? WHY? WHY? The leaders (?) are in the 1 %.

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 2:59 PM

XCpt in the ether replied:

It is the socialist model, everyone pays and a few at the top benefit. That the people paying are convinced that those few are "working hard to get them better pay, better working conditions, better retirement, better insurance, etc. etc. etc." is the panacea they need to avoid being responsible for those things themselves.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 10:37 AM

C Breeze in Panama City, FL said:

The UAW destroyed GM (my source of vehicles for over 45 years); My proudly purchased GM stock shares over those 45 years were reduced to an almost valueless state; and my credit card "GM bucks" amounted to approx $3,000 dollars became almost worthless. I will NEVER purchase a GM product (Or Chrysler/now Fiat) again ! From now on it will be VW or Hundai or Toyota or any other car made in Union-free factories in America. Congratulations Volkswagon employees,..Good business choice ! ! !

Monday, February 17, 2014 at 3:29 PM