April 23, 2024

A Union Win for Biden but Not Workers

A Volkswagen plant in Tennessee becomes the first such facility in the South to vote to join the UAW.

The third time is apparently a charm for the United Auto Workers.

After having twice rejected unionization, workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, just voted overwhelmingly to unionize. This marks the first such success for the UAW in the South and comes after the 4,300 workers at the VW plant voted against unionization in both 2014 and 2019. Remarkably, nearly three-quarters of the plant workers voted in favor this time around.

UAW President Shawn Fain celebrated the victory, suggesting it was a harbinger of things to come for unions in the historically anti-union South. “Many of the talkingheads and the pundits have said to me repeatedly, before we announced, that you can’t win in the South,” Fain said to cheering workers after the vote was announced. “But you all said, ‘Watch this.’ You all moved the mountain.”

Joe Biden was quick to jump on the unionization bandwagon. “Let me be clear,” he said, “to the Republican governors that tried to undermine this vote: there is nothing to fear from American workers using their voice and their legal right to form a union if they so choose.”

Leftmedia outlets also jumped aboard, implying that the southern states’ anti-union resistance had finally been broken. The New York Times headline read, “Could the Union Victory at VW Set Off a Wave?” NPR announced, “Volkswagen workers vote yes to unionizing, igniting UAW’s push to organize the South.” CNN trumpeted, “Volkswagen workers vote overwhelmingly to join the UAW, giving the union a groundbreaking win.”

It’s happening! they say.

But is it really? The truth, both for the UAW’s victory in Chattanooga and the Leftmedia’s pro-union sentiments, isn’t what it seems. This union victory had much more to do with crony capitalism and autoworkers voting to save their jobs than it did with any true expansion of unionization into the deep red South.

To that first point, thanks to Biden’s anti-fossil fuel agenda, the auto industry in America is being pressed into pumping out electric vehicles for a supposed electric-dominated future. Via EPA emissions regulations along with government subsidies, automakers are effectively seeking to go where the government money is.

The Chattanooga VW plant happens to manufacture the company’s electric SUV, known as the ID.4. VW will get big bucks from the government for pumping out these EVs, which of course means job security for workers at the plant. The vote to unionize was, in many ways, a vote to keep their jobs. Indeed, unlike the previous two organization votes, VW did not seek to initiate any real campaign against unionization. VW likely wanted this outcome because of its own bottom line.

The trouble is that Americans aren’t embracing EVs. In fact, that reality may be why VW wanted this to happen. Every EV maker across the country, including America’s number one EV maker, Tesla, is bracing for rough waters ahead.

Energy journalist Robert Bryce, who recently reported “Tesla In Turmoil: The EV Meltdown In 10 Charts,” puts it this way:

Tesla is the bellwether for the EV business, and it’s in trouble. Last week, the company announced it was laying off more than 10%, or about 14,000, of its employees. The move comes after a quarter during which the company missed delivery expectations and just before it reveals its quarterly profits on Tuesday. Here’s what Wired wrote last Thursday about Tesla’s situation: “Demand is dropping for electric cars in the U.S. and Europe, just as competition in China intensifies and workers revolt in Europe. Investors are worried.”

If Tesla is in trouble, then the rest of the struggling EV industry must be in panic mode. The EV bubble seems near bursting, as it remains little other than a luxury novelty accessory for those with enough disposable income to spend on such things. For the rest of America, EVs simply are too expensive and do not meet their practical demands for daily life.

Meanwhile, the UAW is celebrating a “big” win, even as labor unions across the country continue to shrink — down in 2023 to their lowest level on record. Just 10% of American workers are unionized, as the UAW is facing a decertification election this week at a Nissan plant in New Jersey, and workers at a Penske Truck Rental are looking to decertify from the International Association of Machinists in both Minnesota and Tennessee.

And what of the widely celebrated workers strikes that led to the so-called big win for the UAW over the Big Three automakers last year? As a result, some 18,000 workers may soon get their walking papers.

While Biden and the Leftmedia may be celebrating a historic union victory in the South, those workers at Chattanooga’s VW plant may soon come to regret their vote.

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