United Auto Workers Defeated Again

The good news is workers at Chattanooga's Volkswagen plant win by not unionizing.

Nate Jackson · Jun. 17, 2019

For the second time, workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, rejected a vote to unionize workers under the United Auto Workers (UAW). The first vote failed in 2014, but the UAW promptly challenged the vote before dropping the challenge at the last minute two months later. We predicted at the time the UAW would be back for a rematch.

The UAW spent heavily advertising in the local market and had the backing of Democrat Mayor Andy Berke. And yet the result the second time wasn’t all that different from the first. In 2014, the vote was 712-626 against unionizing. This time, it was 883-776 — more total votes, but the same 53%-47% margin.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board summed it up: “The UAW couldn’t overcome Volkswagen’s pitch that workers are better off without a union dunning their paychecks for dues and perhaps making the plant less competitive. Wages and benefits for production workers can add up to $23.50 an hour, which is well above the median in Chattanooga.”

The same failure has been true of UAW efforts to unionize foreign-owed auto plants in other southern right-to-work states. In fact, not a single plant in the South is unionized. Workers region-wide know this is the 21st century, not the early 20th, and they’ve got it pretty good without donating some of their pay to Big Labor and the Democrat Party.

On that note, the Journal observes, “The union was also hurt by federal corruption charges against prominent UAW officials, including misuse of union dues for lavish personal spending — which isn’t a good look when you’re trying to convince workers to commit a chunk of their hard-earned wages for union purposes.”

In any case, we’d say the UAW won’t let this fight be over just yet and Chattanooga better prepare for the inevitable Round Three. Why? Because since 1979, when UAW membership peaked at 1.5 million workers, the rolls have plummeted to just 400,000. The UAW is desperate. But plants that aren’t unionized provide American jobs. Plants that are unionized see jobs outsourced to Mexico.


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