By on February 14, 2014

volkswagen-chattanooga-solar-park-08 (1)

The historic vote scheduled to take place at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga assembly plant. 1,570 workers will vote on whether to be represented by the United Auto Workers so that a German-style Works Council can be formed.

If the UAW is successful, it would be their first victory in a long history of failing to secure organization at foreign-owned auto plants. If they fail, it will be a serious blow to the UAW and the American labor movement. For the definitive report on final day of the vote, The Detroit News has a great take.

Personally, I think that the final vote will result in the workers rejecting the union. But I am curious to hear your take.

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72 Comments on “QOTD: UAW Vote At Chattanooga Ends Tonight, What’s Your Prediction?...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I say the fix is in but we’ll see.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I think they’ll approve it.

    Then they can be UAW workers and continue to produce high quality, individualized US-spec VW’s for discerning American customers seeking that special Germanic build quality.

    /sarc, after first sentence.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      The employees at the plant are not typical “UAW” auto workers, each was assessed to a high standard. VW assessed 70K candidates and hired something like 2000.

      youtube.com/watch?v=Pyhlha0jLak

      Incidentally GM plant workers have been assessed in a similar manner since the late 80s, although I don’t believe it is as stringent.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        I’ll have to watch that during not-at-work time ;).

      • 0 avatar
        Superdessucke

        The typical UAW worker means an IQ under 100. If these are smart screened employees the vote should fail.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I can assure you the VW folks were not assessed by IQ, but I believe IQ may be a byproduct of the process (if they used a Raven’s assessment it should be). If they used what I think, a big part of it was behavioral assessment. I also believed they used a pick-and-pack system where candidates dragged and dropped shapes and whatnot in a web assessment. The program monitored how many were correctly matched/selected etc in a time period and depending on how it was configured it would introduce incorrect elements to confuse the applicant and see how well they could reason.

          I agree with you in principle, but there are political forces operating above the pay grades of these folks who have respective needs (VW a works council, UAW fresh hosts to latch onto).

          • 0 avatar
            VCplayer

            Straight-up IQ testing is actually frowned upon in the hiring process, see Griggs v. Duke Power Co.

            That said, I have no idea why anyone would disparage UAW employees so universally. No doubt there are workers of poor caliber that the UAW protects, but there are others who meet and exceed their work requirements.

            Most auto workers (UAW or not) are probably of average or above-average intelligence. It’s hard to imagine these days many total morons making it through the hiring process for manufacturing jobs given how relatively few of those jobs exist anymore.

        • 0 avatar
          dartman

          Amen!…and those that don’t make the UAW cut go on and make derogatory posts on TTAC…So please, Mr Super–suck enlighten us with your credentials and the particulars of your curriculum vitae that allow you to make such a poignant and well reasoned post about hard-working entry level $16/hr wage earners with a top wage of $28/hr. Is that a lot of money in your neighborhood?
          Fyi VW generously pays the proletarians back home in der Vaterland about twice that amount. Makes good sense to take care of your own.

          • 0 avatar
            Jeff Weimer

            Starting pay rates at the VW plant are $27/hr. The rates you specify are UAW rates at GM, Ford and Chrysler.

            That may be one reason why the union was rejected – VW might have been able to pay the “union” rates, meaning a pay cut.

      • 0 avatar
        activeaero

        Where do you guys get this stuff? VW wants the union. They want it. If the workers vote no,VW will fudge it so its a yes.

        If VW had been anything but pro union this vote wouldn’t even be close.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I don’t have any insider information that would allow me to have an opinion.

    But Southerners don’t like “carpetbaggers” telling them what to do, and the anti-union voices in this melee all sound like outside Beltway lobbyists. That can’t be helping the anti-union cause; the “right to work” groups might have been better off keeping their mouths shut.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Actually, by your standard the UAW would be the ultimate “carpetbagger” since they are the interlopers.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I didn’t say that Southerners dislike all outsiders. (On the contrary, I’ve done business in the South, and they can be quite friendly.)

        What they don’t like is having outsiders shout at them as if they don’t know better. And as far as I can tell, the UAW has done a better job of maintaining its composure than the “right to work” groups who are acting as if gullible workers are the only thing that stands between America and the apocalypse. Those workers probably don’t appreciate the sentiment.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        How so? VW invited them in for completely above board reasons. If anything this is management’s wishes.

  • avatar

    I really don’t know which way this is all going to shake out, but it would be hilarious tragedy if the vote was deadlocked!

  • avatar

    TN workers make $14.50/hr, $27 with bennies added in. Workers in Germany make $65. incl. bennies. VW has decontented Jetta and Passat for the U.S. market. They are trying to compete based on cost structure in a highly competitive market. Curious is why VW management is backing unionization.

    I have no clue what the outcome will be. A lot is riding on it.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Because they want works councils as they have at every other plant, save China. Under US law a works council is considered an “employer” union and is forbidden, they must have outside representation.

    • 0 avatar
      Atum

      $14.50/hr is reasonable pay for someone who attaches doors to Passats. I don’t know why they’d want it higher. Or people who make $8/hr at McDonald’s who want twice that; if you want to earn $50 bucks an hour, you should’ve gotten a college education and then you could be engineering planes for Lockheed Martin.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Isn’t that the ultimate issue with capitalism, Atum. There aren’t enough aerospace engineering jobs for everybody. We’ll always need .ore janitors than engineers no matter how brilliant and driven you are. So raising minimum wages actually increase wages across the board and end some need for welfare when you work full-time.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          There aren’t enough prospective engineers available now to fill the existing openings. Hence why the jobs pay well.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            But there isn’t an infinite need for engineers, not can it be expected that everyone can be an engineer.

            And we certainly go through periods when there are engineering gluts. We don’t always need more of them; there are times when there are too many.

      • 0 avatar
        dartman

        Hey Atum, why pay some lazy-ass self-entitled American Engineer $50/Hr when you can get the job done by a hard working, well educated, Chinese, Indian or Korean Engineer for about $15/Hr? I mean, after all it is our tax dollars at work so we shouldn’t be squandering them. Most of the engineering work can be done remotely so we don’t even have to bring ‘em over. If you really want to earn $50/hour and be in demand here in the good old U S of A become a plumber. People are willing to pay good money not to have to deal with their own shit.

  • avatar

    Unionization in Germany is different than other places. Union members in Germany voted to work less hours so more of their members could keep their jobs. That has never happened here to my knowledge. It might be one reason VW supports unionization here based on a somewhat different set of conditions than other UAW plants.

  • avatar
    dash riprock

    Has the UAW ever tried to unionize the Mexican plants? Is it possible for a US union to organize in Mexico? Believe it is possible in Canada, the UAW was here until the CAW split off in the seventies I believe.
    Just curious as from the outside it would seem that the UAW has a natural link into the Mexican operations of Ford, GM, and Chrysler.

    Additionally, the wage gap is much wider and I would think they would be able to sell themselves on a potential large jump in wages and benefits for Mexican workers

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      That’s sounds like a hit TV show.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The Mexican autoworkers are already unionized.

      VW is well aware of this. Every few years, their workers in Puebla threaten to strike.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thx for the info, I didn’t know.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Ironically, the US is one of the few countries in the developed world that builds cars with non-union labor.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Indeed ironic.

          • 0 avatar
            Short Bus

            It seems as though the reason for that is the ridiculous legal requirement for outside representation. It seems ridiculous to not allow workers to maintain their own internal organization to pass along concerns and issues to management.

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            It’s not at all ironic, it’s a monument to the UAW.

            The public opposed the Detroit bailouts primarily because of the UAW – it was a union bailout. Congress specifically voted it down and both Bush and O ignored their votes.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            This should be obvious, but the irony comes from the fact that Americans scream about union labor destroying the car industry, while just about every other nation in the first world outside of the US is building its cars with union labor.

          • 0 avatar
            VCplayer

            “It seems as though the reason for that is the ridiculous legal requirement for outside representation. It seems ridiculous to not allow workers to maintain their own internal organization to pass along concerns and issues to management.”

            It is ridiculous. It has to do with the legal legacy of fights with unions in the first half of the 20th century. We should update some of these laws, but that’s a process that would take forever even if the politicians were in agreement on issues (which they aren’t).

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            To VC.

            The reason is because Clinton vetoed the reform passed by Congress in 1996:

            “Volkswagen seeks Chattanooga vote on the UAW due to 1996 veto by Bill Clinton.”
            http://features.blogs.fortune.cnn.com/2014/02/14/vw-chattanooga-uaw-vote/?section=money_autos

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            Not so ironic to me.

            The US has outstanding worker protections built into the law, and today’s freedom of information makes 19th-century abuses pretty short-lived.

      • 0 avatar
        dash riprock

        Thanks for the reply….are the unions strong?

  • avatar
    Jimal

    My gut tells me that it won’t pass, but based on some of the hair-brained comments by some politicians in the past few days I think it will be closer than it might have been.

  • avatar
    Hillman

    Regardless of what happens I don’t see the State doing anything. I bet they can’t change the agreement since it appears the majority of the incentives are property tax breaks and free land. In case anyone is interested in what the incentives are the link has them listed.
    http://www.chattanoogan.com/2008/11/19/139277/Long-List-Of-Sweeteners-Helped-Lure.aspx

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Normally, I would say no but with VW itself seemingly behind it (which I still don’t get)it could go either way.

    Additionally, as one poster indicated, “southerners” generally don’t like outside influence (I know, I’m one of them) but there are so many non southerners in the south anymore I don’t know that a geographic demographic can be considered reliable for determining something like a union vote.

  • avatar
    countymountie

    “Those who vote decide nothing. Those who count the vote decide everything.”

    (With apologies to Comrade Stalin, or whoever might have said it first)

  • avatar
    mitchw

    I wonder how sanguine the UAW will be if they only win by a squeak. Will they be able to recruit more workers at other plants? My guess is the UAW wins the vote tonight, based on cards workers have already filled out. Also, with so much on the line, one supposes the UAW did it’s homework.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Either way they will maintain their composure if they are wise. I will make a prediction based on if they win: you will start seeing things in the media about a “new” UAW and how successful Chattanooga is with UAW being there. Don’t believe the propaganda if this occurs because *none of these employees were hired as union workers* nor will UAW impose its ridiculous nature on Chattanooga at least for some time. In the short term I doubt much of the ebb and flow of the plant will change but VAG will be able to set up its works council and UAW in additional to a political victory gets some incoming cash flow. The short term insight of all parties involved will not necessarily lead to long term success.

  • avatar
    RogerB34

    UAW will fail.

  • avatar
    mvlbr

    This should just seal the deal for vw closing up shop and transferring all the tooling to mexico.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Attn TTAC Mgt: I realize much of the VAG insider info was lost with an editor who shall not be named, but some analysis on what’s going on inside the crystal palace is Wolfsburg would be very interesting and relevant to this story.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Would that be the same insider who had no idea that this was coming?

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        One in the same. The reason I asked it VAG seems to be ruled like a kingdom and depending on who is, or more importantly who will be in power, might be telling about the long term future of Chattanooga.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          The guys in Germany (or at least some of them) obviously want there to be a union, and they’ve deliberately put the UAW in the driver’s seat for this.

          I suppose that it’s up to the workers at this point. How the local management feels about it, I don’t know, although Bob Corker would have us believe that they don’t agree with the push coming from the fatherland.

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            @Pch101
            Don’t you also think that the UAW’s current tenets might not be palatable for the current workers.

            It’s all management is it?

            Maybe you should look a little deeper.

  • avatar
    JD321

    The collectivist/tribal monkey parasites will prevail…as they have for 5000 years.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    OK lets go. Big money big money no whammies and ………………….. stop!

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    I predict a modest victory, perhaps 5-10%. This isn’t a presidential election, usually unions win by overwhelming margins or just barely lose. It ends up being that most losses are after extended time from a card check to a vote. Since VW has supported this and in fact wants this to happen I suspect a comfortable victory. Really it comes down to whether the workers believe the myths and lies spewed by the right or cold-hard facts.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Please enlighten us with the “facts”.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        Haven’t I repeatedly and you continue to live in a BS world of propaganda? If I gave you the articles you would just claim partisanship because it’s a convenient out. You’ve already doubted the election process.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          There are a few folks I frequently follow but you are not among them, so I cannot recall any facts you may have posted in the past. Going through this particular topic, I see rhetoric in your posts not facts. I’m not preaching political rhetoric in mine on this topic. You claim on this topic and I quote “Really it comes down to whether the workers believe the myths and lies spewed by the right or cold-hard facts.”. So seriously man, what are the facts you speak of on this topic?

  • avatar
    IndianaDriver

    I do not think it will pass.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Well the UAW wasn’t well liked or they wouldn’t have tried pushing the ‘Euro Model’ of unionism.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      >>Well the UAW wasn’t well liked or they wouldn’t have tried pushing the ‘Euro Model’ of unionism.
      <<

      Good call – It appears that was an act (tactics) designed to appeal benign to locals as against their real history.

      "…Dziczek said the union may have to change its tactics in future organizing efforts, because King's strategy of the union and company working together to help each other did not work…."
      http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/uaw-vote-volkswagen-plant-tenn-ends-friday-22519817?page=2

  • avatar
    Syke

    This is going to be an interesting situation. The Chattanooga plant needs the new SUV/CUV/whateverUV that Volkswagen is going to bring out. IGMetall has let it be known that they’re going to do whatever they can to stop the new vehicle being built in Chattanooga as long as the plant is non-union. I assume the workers there know this.

    Which means, where does that leave you if you not crazy about joining a union, but know that you’re long term cutting the plant if it stays non-union?

    For that matter, TN is a right to work state. Which, I believe, means that you can’t be forced to pay dues if a union is voted in. If I’m correct on that, I wonder how many employees will become dues paying members if the vote goes “yes”?

    And yes, I’m expecting a pro-union fix in there somewhere. Which could come to play if the vote is close.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I will find it highly amusing if the union gets in but hardly any of the workers bother to actually pay dues.

  • avatar
    Carl Kolchak

    Here is the scenario I could see playing out if the the UAW “wins” the vote:

    UAW: Hey, tanks for voting us in. We are really looking forward to representing you. Time to collect the ol’ union dues.
    VW Hourly Staff: What dues?
    UAW: Your union dues. You voted for us to be your union, we require dues.
    VW Staff: The Company wanted you guys for the “Works Council” and now your here.
    UAW. So we require your dues to represent you, so pay up
    VW staff: Don’t have to, Right to Work state. But don’t think we don’t appreciate you boys coming down here and being our voice on the Works Council for free. Mighty Nice of you

  • avatar
    agenthex

    It’s always pretty funny when the typical red-blooded american car fan delivers their two minute hate again unions, yet rarely put money where their mouth is by buying the few non-union cars on the market, and in fact often insist the Japanese union-made cars are better than those from the southern plants.

    The comedic effect is only tapered when we remember they vote with that cognitive dissonance.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    What I can’t figure out is that if the UAW is supposed to be so horrible for VW, why have they (VW) repeatedly said they are in favor of it?

  • avatar
    gogogodzilla

    I think it’s got a good shot of passing.

    Mainly because Volkswagen itself is in support of the measure. Which would eliminate some of the hesitation an autoworker there might have over whether a ‘yes’ vote would endanger their job.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    News says the UAW lost. Not too surprising, they didn’t have much to offer the VW workers.


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