By on April 3, 2013

No works council without representation. Those are the words of UAW President Bob King, in an interview with Autoline Detroit, when asked about a possible works council at VW’s Chattanooga assembly plant.

The Detroit Free Press quotes King as stating

“In the U.S., you can’t do a works council without the workers being in a union,” King said during the Autoline interview. “So if those workers want to have a works council in Chattanooga … then they would first become UAW members and then would bargain in a works council system.”

The full interview is scheduled to air on May 10. TTAC has previously covered the idea of a works council, and the interplay between the UAW and German union IG Metall.Feel free to brush up, because this is something we’ll be hearing a lot more about in the coming months.

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61 Comments on “Bob King To VW: No Works Council Until Chattanooga Workers Get Representation...”


  • avatar
    amca

    Workers cannot be properly represented unless Bob King and his executives are getting their cut of the proceeds.

  • avatar
    Da Coyote

    Yup, we UAW dorks won’t stop until we make sure that VW productivity is as bad as is Chrysler and GM.

  • avatar
    LBJs Love Child

    You can’t expect workers in Tennessee to represent themselves. They need their ‘betters’ from Michigan to do it for/to them.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Unionize, because we’ve done such a good job with other plants so far.
    Sure.

  • avatar
    Conslaw

    I’m guessing labor represented in a works council would be regulated as a labor union anyway, but that doesn’t mean Bob King’s conclusion is valid. The union wouldn’t have to be part of the UAW.

    • 0 avatar
      Lorenzo

      If the UAW doesn’t unionize the plant workers, it’ll unionize the union workers of whatever union the plant workers choose. All unions have central and district offices with clerical, executive and district directors, accounting departments, etc. Guess what union covers THEM? In California, it’s UAW 2350, a statewide “local”.

      In other words all union members in California are also the management of their unions, and the UAW represents the labor they employ in their union halls. Got that? A union can call its members to strike, but the union’s employees can strike against the union members on strike. It’s kind of like a snake eating its tail…

  • avatar
    mikey

    Well, its not hard to figure where this thread is going.
    Bob has it right. This is North America, not Europe. On this side of the ocean,you are either union represented, or your not. There is nothing in between.

    If the workers at VW feel they need a union,then we have a fair,secret ballot vote,and the winner takes all.
    End of story.

    @DaCoyote…Do you have the facts, figures, and source,to back up your assertation’s,re productivity at Ford and GM, vs that at VW?
    Please feel free to share it with us.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Bob has a very key point wrong–there is no requirement for the UAW to be involved. It is not the only union that exists nor may exist.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @redav…Right you are, any number of unions could represent the VW people. Other than a company sanctioned “work council”,who else has thrown thier hat into the ring?

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          My question would be, “WHY would the VW people NEED union representation!?”

          I don’t believe that VW is treating its employees unfairly or punitively.

          The VW employees have to decide if they want to give up part of their paycheck every payday, but what exactly, will they get in return for all that money?

          After all, this is 2013, not 1913. The government, state and municipalities have already placed an enormous burden on each employer to provide for a safe workplace with fair wages.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            It is possible they can form their own union, with no dues, which represents them on the works council, and nothing else.

            There are always ways around such things.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            redav, I thought about that but then immediately discounted it as a possibility because with the UAW involved, in these austere times, union membership declining and UAW loss of control over it?

            Not likely!

            However…., whatever the VW people decide is their business. If the VW people think that the UAW can do more for them, and get them more concessions, greater benefits and higher pay from VW than what they get now, good for them.

            But I believe they should be careful what they wish for since precedence already exists in US automotive history.

            And what history tells us is that the UAW collectively bargained their employers into financial ruin and their membership out of their jobs.

            That’s not too whoopee in anyone’s book. If that is what they want, they’re welcome to it. Unions in America are not like unions in Europe.

            In Europe, unions are partner-members with management. In the US, unions are adversaries of management. Huge difference there.

            But the big deal here is that if the UAW gets its toehold with VW, that essentially ensures VW of the backing, full faith and credit of the United States, just like the UAW had it with GM and Chrysler.

            VW of America can’t lose! Even if the UAW drives them to ruin, the US government will bail them out and keep them going to secure those UAW jobs.

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            Fair wages? there is no mandate in place other than minimum wage. Wages by and large are a function of supply and demand with employers always seeking to lower labor costs.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            raph, minimum wage is considered the national fair wage. Notice I didn’t say “living” wage. I said, “minimum wage is considered the national fair wage” as set forth by legislation.

            If employers wish to keep their employees they’ll pay them more to keep them. An employee is always a free-agent unless contracted for a specific period of time and for a specific amount of money. This is Labor Law 101.

            An employer isn’t obligated to pay an employee anything beyond a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work, and furnish a safe place to perform the work.

            All this other crap that drives employers into the financial grave like GM and Chrysler were, is just trumped up sh!t from the UAW.

            If people don’t like the work, the work conditions or the pay, they are free to move on to any place, at any time. There’s plenty of work to go around in America. That’s why we encourage illegal aliens to come across our borders!!!

            My dad was a union man for decades and I have hired hundreds of people to do work for me over many decades. Many of those same people keep coming back to do jobs for me, so I must be doing something right.

            No union involved, and I bet the guys that have worked for me are pretty happy with what I paid them.

            The government has already stepped in and mandated what big employers have to provide to their employees, so my question was, “What does the UAW or ANY union have to offer the VW people that they don’t already have?”

            Maybe a 15% deduction from their pay every payday?

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      But you know the only ‘fair, secret ballot vote’ that will be considered ‘fair’ is the one that authorizes UAW representation at VW.

      Rejections of such representation at other transplants is constantly called ‘unfair’ by the UAW.

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @gslippy…True story here. Back in the day, elections,strike votes,ratifications,you name it, were as crooked as a dogs hind leg.

        A younger,more savvy membership started to emerg in the mid eighties. After one particularly crooked, fixed election, the rank and file stood up against the old guard.

        From that point on we had a real secret ballot,and hired an accounting firm to process all, and any future elections.

        It worked quite well.

        • 0 avatar
          gslippy

          @mikey: I’m glad to hear it.

          You know I’m no fan of unions, but I greatly appreciate your level-headed first-hand experience with the CAW that you share here at TTAC. It is educational.

          My experiences were through my father (who was embarrassed by his required membership in the United Steel Workers, 1968-82), and in my first job, where I worked in the office of a unionized machine shop. Neither gave me great impressions.

    • 0 avatar
      Da Coyote

      I referred to Chrysler and GM, not Ford, and no numbers from me are needed . They went under because they were not efficient and had Yugo quality. They sunk…and those unfortunate and stupid enough to have invested in them got skunked by the UAW.

      I own a Ford truck (my other vehicles are Japanese and German) , thank you very much. The Ford is wonderful and has given me no trouble, same for the other two vehicles. If we have a month or two I’ll relate the troubles I’ve had with those GM products I was stupid enough to purchase. (My two Corvettes excepted.)

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        Ford got in financial trouble before GM or Chrysler and got bailed out by Wall Street. GM and Chrysler didn’t have that option after the banking disaster. Ford was actually worse managed and less productive.

        • 0 avatar
          geeber

          Ford wasn’t “bailed out” by Wall Street.

          Ford borrowed money from several large financial institutions, and, in return, had to use everything – including its trademark – as collateral. Ford is paying back that money with interest. That is not a “bailout.” That is called borrowing money, using it to restructure the company, and paying it back with interest.

          The contention that GM did not have that option if false. Ford took out the massive loan because management knew that it needed a financial cushion to carry its restructuring effort through any economic downturn. The economy was due for a rececssion, so Ford borrowed the maximum amount possible.

          GM was offered a similar financial package by banks, but Rick Wagoner didn’t believe the company would need it. He thought GM’s new vehicle launches would be sufficient to regain market share and reverse the losses of the North American operations.

          He was wrong, which was why GM needed a REAL bailout, at taxpayer expense.

          • 0 avatar
            VoltOwner

            http://www.forbes.com/sites/joannmuller/2012/08/29/automakers-report-card-who-still-owes-taxpayers-money-the-answer-might-surprise-you/

      • 0 avatar
        mikey

        @Da Coyote…Got it. You just happen to know,the reason that GM and Chrysler went under? No data,no numbers.nada? Its all the fault of the UAW?

        So truth be known, your just another hater.

        Nuff said.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          Mikey, I’d raise a union made beer to you if I could find one. Anything about the UAW brings the haters out of the woodwork. You have to understand; these guys are Southern and automatically anti-union. They wouldn’t unionize their penises if free sex was involved. This is a non-starter for the UAW.

          • 0 avatar
            Yeah_right

            So what’s the benefit? Us dumb Southern union haters know the cost. Having union representation reduces your paycheck. It means the co-workers that make work unpleasant – the malcontents and the lazy – are defended to ridiculous lenghts. It means that we get to know the enforcers who will meet us in the parking lot after work or come to our house to help us understand the union’s position. And I’m guessing it means your friends in organized crime and corrput Dem politicians join the bandwagon.

            So, what do we get in exchange to make it worth the cost? Improved pay? No. Improved workplace safety? No. Improved work environment? No. Better protection from economic changes? Hell no.

            So, instead of reflexively defending unions and making lame attempts at potty humor, explain why if you worked in a non-union plant you would agree to have YOUR paycheck reduced?

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Gee, expanding So of the border must look very appealing to VW and others at this junction, between his highness and this King dude. they’re gonna drive even more auto makers away from here!

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      VW has made this exact mistake before. That’s why they’re the only transplant that failed. The success of the company in spite of its soap opera management, its fill-in-the-blank products, and its number of false starts is remarkable. Being VW, it is entirely likely that whoever was driving the return to US production has diminished in power while whoever wanted to avoid US production now has a stronger voice. Management aligned with German labor will sabotage Tennessee given the opportunity, and they have no greater ally than Bob King.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        ‘Sabotage’ is a strong word, but my bet is that you are right. If you are, VW has a bizarre management hierarchy.

        If anyone in the B&B has the best insight on management / union relatione, it would be you.

  • avatar
    lowsodium

    Anyone here work at the plant?? Are things bad there or something?

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @lowsodium….I don’t work at the plant,but have many years experience in such a facility.
      To answer your question. I would have to say,no. Things are not bad at the Tenn, plant. If they were,Bob King and the UAW would already be there.

    • 0 avatar
      I_Like_Pie

      Every one of my relatives, my neighbors, and many of my friends work there. I can see the plant from my house, and I am about to go jogging on enterprize park on the company grounds.

      Everyone there works hard and is happy to be working. Sure it is a lot more than some people were expecting, but they are all thrilled to have VW as their employer. They are treated fairly and all drive VW cars without hesitation (the nice lease terms for employees is a great incentive).

      A union will not fly here at all. It simply isn’t wanted. No amount of manufactured hype will make it happen either. We may be from the south, but we are very weary of Union representation while at the same time enjoying a right to work environment.

      Chattanooga has a very, VERY high quality of life and VW is paying foks enough to enjoy it.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        I know you are right as I’ve grown up and worked in manufacturing in the South. Best workforce I’ve dealt with came from Kansas City and Upstate South Carolina.

        But I’m willing to bet VW management in Europe has eveything to do with this work council requirement. Bertel’s articles have foreshadowed this.

      • 0 avatar
        billfrombuckhead

        I couldn’t find any corroboration on the internet that Chattanooga has a high quality of life.

        • 0 avatar
          Rod Panhard

          Chattanooga has a lot going for it. Nice climate, surrounded by a beautiful topography, a river running through town. Chattanooga has an aquarium, a famous song about a train, AND Rock City.

          So ask yourself, “How does that compare with New York City?”

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          Compared to that monument to the UAW, i.e. Detroit?

          VW and all other transplants should have murals of Detroit all over their plants so workers can see what the UAW leadership/Dem Party wrought.

        • 0 avatar
          I_Like_Pie

          LOL – you aren’t looking very hard.

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        “Chattanooga has a very, VERY high quality of life and VW is paying foks enough to enjoy it.”

        Arrgh!….. Don’t SAY things like that in public!

        That’s like telling the grade-school bully:

        “I LOVE my glasses! Reading is so easy now and I’m getting A’s in everything!”

  • avatar
    mikey

    @Volt 230…Oh yeah, forgot about Mexico. Such a model of political stability. You got to love thier stand on “law and order”. No graft,no kick back schemes. Its wonder that all the big multi national corps are not lined up to invest billions in assembly facilities.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Mexican workforces are cheap. That is the only benefit to build down here. If you want initiative and corporate processes to be followed, it’s a damned tough environment to get a new product started. Once it’s going, it hums along. But forget it if you think incoming quality is good at a Mexican plant without supervision from up North. It’s why people like me have no personal connections back home and why weekends are non-existent.

      I sincerely miss working in the other three NAFTA nations.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      Err. didn’t GM invest more capital in Chavezland a year or two ago despite the despot’s Castro-like habit of nationalizing private industries, now that is RISKY business, my friend!

  • avatar
    detlump

    It would be interesting to see a competing union start up and see how the UAW responds. Competition improves the breed.

  • avatar
    Mykl

    I don’t understand why the simple act of sitting at a table with your employer and discussing issues requires UAW involvement. I don’t understand why Mr. King thinks that anybody believes that only an organized union can provide this kind of service.

    Blows my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      I often wonder whom workers will get to sit across the table from the UAW to represent/protect their (the workers’) interests. After all, the UAW is big business/management.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Ford was worse manged and less productive then GM and Chrysler and got into trouble before GM and Chrysler so was able to mortgage the company on Wall Street. GM and Chrysler din’t have that option because of the banking collapse. Let’s not rewrite history for political “truthiness”

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Less cash was the key. Ford had a ton of plants that were underutilized that no one had the guts to consolidate. The process had been initiated when Mulally stepped in, but it wasn’t executed quickly until he took the reins.

    • 0 avatar
      geeber

      See my response to your similar post above. The idea that GM and Chrysler didn’t have that option is false. GM was offered a similar package from financial institutions at the same time Ford arranged its financing.

      Rick Wagoner turned the banks down, because his latest, super-dooper recovery plan was sure to succeed where GM’s previous 20 or so other, basically similar, super-dooper recovery plans over the past three decades had failed. Oops…

      • 0 avatar
        ect

        GM’s financial position was much worse than Ford’s. Like Ford, they had mortgaged close to everything. They just did it bit by bit over several years, rather than in a big package the way Ford did it.

        GM’s long market share slide left the company with huge legacy costs, far beyond that of Ford and Chrysler. At the beginning of 2008, it had a deficit in shareholders’ equity of $38 billion, and $25 billion of cash and equivalents. Ford had positive shareholders’ equity ($5.6 billion) and $35 billion in cash and equivalents.

        In 2007 alone, GM lost $38.7 billion. Ford lost a “mere” $2.7 billion.

        By the end of 2007 (well before he banking crisis of September 2008), nothing could save GM from bankruptcy. Nothing.

  • avatar
    TW4

    Mankind cannot resist the forbidden fruit of modern union representation. The workers in Tennessee are no different than those in Michigan. As surely as the sun will set, Chattanooga will eventually succumb to the UAW.

    Let Bob Zombie feast on the brains of the weak. The will only suffer if you give them false hope.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    My guess is that at VW headquarters in Germany there is a fierce power struggle going on between forces who want to build automobiles in the United States and those who oppose that idea. The forces opposing manufacturing in the U.S. have come up with a way to sabotage it: Let the UAW represent the workers at the Chattanooga plant.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Actually, it may be a smart move because the UAW drove their employers into the financial grave and the US government bailed them out.

      If the UAW did the same for VW in America, it is reasonable that the US government would bail them out as well, especially with the political climate in America forecast to be heavily ultra-left socialist-welfare liberal-Democrat for the new 12-16 years.

      I kid you not! With the GOP in disarray there’s nothing to stop the dems.

      BTW, I’m an Independent – I vote for the best candidate regardless of political party, so don’t presume to associate or affiliate me with ANY political ideology.

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    When I look at that photo of VW’s workers in Tennessee, it appears that the food in the company cafeteria must be pretty good!

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      Except for the guy front row far left, they seem remarkably healthy for *any* union’s rank & file. Maybe even healthy enough to fight off the UAW.


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