A good month after our trek to the South where we checked on the (un-) willingness of transplant workers to join the UAW, the hard-hitting team at the Reuters Detroit bureau did the same. In a special report, Reuters comes to the same conclusion as we did: It won’t be easy. Bernie Woodall and Ben Klayman of Reuters did more thorough digging. And they unearthed the secret strategy of the UAW: With the help of the German metalworkers union, they want to talk themselves into Volkswagen and Daimler:
“By appealing to German unions for help and by calling on the companies to do the right thing, King hopes to get VW and Daimler to surrender without a fight and let the union make its case directly to workers.”
If that strategy won’t work, and it is highly unlikely that it will, it could be the end of the UAW:
“It’s a battle the UAW cannot afford to lose. By failing to organize factories run by foreign automakers, the union has been a spectator to the only growth in the U.S. auto industry in the last 30 years. That failure to win new members has compounded a crunch on the UAW’s finances, forcing it to sell assets and dip into its strike fund to pay for its activities.”
The UAW will have a hard time convincing workers. Where the UAW reigns, it’s a killing field for jobs:
“Since 2001, the Detroit Three have slashed over 200,000 jobs, eliminating more than 60 percent of their hourly work force. In the same period, Japanese, South Korean and German automakers have opened eight assembly plants in the United States, creating almost 20,000 factory jobs.”
Money-wise, it does not make a lot of sense to join:
“Newly hired workers earn $14.50 an hour at VW in Chattanooga. That is just below the $14.78 that a new hire would make at a unionized GM plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Adjusted for monthly dues at Spring Hill, the VW worker is behind by only about $15 per month.”
Hopes that the German unions will do the heavy lifting for the UAW likely are misplaced. “We will support the UAW, but we will not do the UAW’s work,” said Peter Donath, an IG Metall official. The German unions are interested in themselves. Of course, German makers with troubles in the U.S. could be discouraged to move more work to a unionized plant in the U.S. Wait, what’s wrong with that picture?
Please read the detailed report at Reuters. It will be an eye-opener.