Business Review Board / August 8, 2017

UAW Defeated in Another Southern Right-to-Work State

Union membership numbers continue to decline as fewer Americans see value in joining such political groups.

Workers at a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi, rejected the United Automobile Workers bid to organize employees into a union by a nearly 2-1 vote margin. This is now the second time the UAW has failed to make inroads in a southern state. Recall in 2014 the UAW’s bid to organize workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, was rejected as well. (Not that VW didn’t come back around…) This is also the second time in as many tries that the UAW has come up short in a right-to-work state. Only this time the margin of rejection was even greater.

The UAW has been seeing its membership steadily decline for quite some time now. In 2001, the union boasted around 700,000 members; today it sits at about 400,000. Even with the UAW spending heavily on ads and bringing in big names like Senator Bernie Sanders and actor Danny Glover to pitch for the union, the plant, where more than 80% of workers are black, rejected the message that Nissan was exploiting “human misery and insecurity” to turn a high profit.

In fact, looking at how well the plant workers are paid in hourly wages along with good retirement benefits, the union simply had little to offer, except the bad press of economically depressed areas like Detroit. Better to have a job and keep one’s money than to send it off to a union and risk losing steady work when a factory is forced to close.

Meanwhile, right-to-work states are becoming increasingly attractive for companies looking to develop industry and business. There is recent news that Toyota Motor Corp. is looking to build a new car plant in the South. States like Tennessee have acted aggressively to build business-friendly environments in which everyone benefits.

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