By on February 17, 2014

2012AerialfromWest

Following the 712 – 629 decision against representation by the United Auto Workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., the union may be forced to throw in the towel on foreign-owned auto factories as the automaker’s works council vow to press forward with plans to establish their brand of representation in the plant.

Bloomberg and Reuters report that though the UAW may have been thwarted in their recent organizing efforts at the plant by third-party organizations and local and state politicians opposed to the union, Volkswagen’s works council remains undeterred, according to council secretary general Gunnar Kilian in a statement:

We have always stressed that the decision over union representation lies in the hands of the workers in Chattanooga. The result of the election has not changed our goal of creating a works council in Chattanooga.

Kilian and VW Global Works Council Secretary General Frank Patta are expected to travel to the United States in the next two weeks to meet and consult with labor law experts to determine the next steps needed to bring a works council to the U.S. plant.

Meanwhile, the UAW remains optimistic in the face of the Chattanooga vote for the time being, with support from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka:

The closeness of the results and the courage and tenacity of union supporters prove that this election is a minor setback, and not a permanent defeat. The ferocity of the anti-union forces only reinforces the fact that there is a powerful new form of organizing emerging.

The union faced opposition by anti-union groups, including one with ties to anti-tax advocate Grover Norquist, and Tennessee Republican political leaders such as Governor Bill Haslam and former Chattanooga mayor and current U.S. Senator Bob Corker.

In the long-term, and with membership hovering around 400,000 after falling 75 percent from a peak of 1.5 million in 1979, the UAW may be forced to extend its hand to workers outside of the automotive industry, such as motel maids and university assistants, while walking away from the effort to represent transplant factory workers.

Clark University labor law professor Gary Chaison noted that representation at the VW plant would have bolstered efforts to unionize other Southern plants, such as Daimler AG’s MBUSI plant in Vance, Ala. However, the roadmap may need to be redrawn:

This is a time for soul-searching at the UAW and within the American labor movement. This was the ideal situation and they know that. They might just give up on transplants.

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128 Comments on “UAW, VW Works Council Regrouping Under Voting Fallout...”


  • avatar
    Dave M.

    “The closeness of the results and the courage and tenacity of union supporters prove that this election is a minor setback, and not a permanent defeat.”
    Um, no Bob, you had every advantage and got your clock cleaned. UAW is a soiled brand.

    The Works Council is a good idea. What other organization can step up and represent the workers? Can they develop their own?

    • 0 avatar
      VCplayer

      I think the plan is to form a works council and see if the UAW wants to sue them over it. I would think they will, but that might be a risky move given the current Supreme Court.

    • 0 avatar
      kokomokid

      While the union lost the vote, they didn’t “get their clock cleaned,” given that anti-union groups spent millions of dollars fighting the union, and it seems that Bob Corker, and maybe other Republican politicians told blatant lies to fight the union. It’s a little surprising the vote was that close.

      • 0 avatar
        VCplayer

        The union spent something like $5 million in their campaign, so the propaganda was hardly one-sided.

        Without exit polling we don’t really know why they lost, but quotes from the workers seemed to indicate a general distaste for the UAW’s politics coupled with seemingly little to gain from associating with the union outside of the works council,

        • 0 avatar
          redav

          And that’s $5M they won’t get back. They are already strapped for cash, so they can’t fight a war of attrition.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            But this fight isn’t over. For the UAW this issue is existential, a struggle to survive, to be relevant, to regain lost glory.

            We’ll see more of this, a lot more, with efforts to continue to hit up VW, Mercedes-Benz and BMW plants in the USA.

            And, no doubt, the workers will be threatened, cajoled, ridiculed and harassed in the effort to coerce them to vote to unionize.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        Perhaps I was too brusgue. Given all the gifts they received (allowed in the plant, all but endorsed by VW, etc), it should have been even closer.

    • 0 avatar
      schmitt trigger

      Something I’ve never fully understood…what is exactly a works council?

      My incomplete understanding tells me that it is some sort of labor representation in the executive board…but is that all?

      • 0 avatar
        Truckducken

        Short but decent explanation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Works_council

      • 0 avatar
        RogerB34

        A works council participates in company management decisions.

        • 0 avatar
          schmitt trigger

          Thanks.

          What struck me from the Wiki explanation, was the following paragraph:

          “In the United States, the NLRB has held that works councils in the absence of a recognized labor union are a form of company union prohibited under section 8(a)(2)”

          • 0 avatar
            agenthex

            It’s a historical consequence from a time when companies would form their own unions that aren’t really in the interest of those they’re supposed to represent.

  • avatar
    motormouth

    From what I understand, the transplant OEMs, VW, BMW, MB, have put in place generous pay packages for plant workers and set up various internal organizations to address employee issues. For example, such European systems as time banking have been avoided and any overtime is paid in cash rather than added holiday.

    All this is designed to make unionization less appealing. After all, a worker that is satisfied with his compensation and has access to direct management is unlikely to be swayed by union promises.

    As for the UAW, the reputation of the union goes before it and it’s no wonder the OEMs don’t want such an organization unsettling the workforce. After all, slow-downs, stoppages and strikes are bad for business, with reduced productivity a more costly problem than it ever has been.

    And then there’s the politicians wading in with threats of funding withdrawals if the UAW was voted in at Chattanooga. I guess that marks the end of any remaining laissez faire business environment that had been hanging around in Tennessee.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      >>And then there’s the politicians wading in with threats of funding withdrawals if the UAW was voted in at Chattanooga. I guess that marks the end of any remaining laissez faire business environment that had been hanging around in Tennessee.<<

      No such threat was issued. The local politicians – as opposed to the outside forces of the UAW – stated that future NEW incentives would be unavailable w/ a UAW presence. They never threatened to withdraw incentives already promised – altho some stories were written in a way that readers might get that impression.

      The local pols were elected to represent the area so they had a right to speak. And the VW workers also had a right to know the prospects of NEW public largesse before they voted.

      • 0 avatar
        motormouth

        “They never threatened to withdraw incentives already promised.”

        Then I should have avoided any confusion and said they threatened future funding.

        From the Washington Post, Feb 13:

        This week, however, GOP state Sen. Bo Watson threatened VW directly, warning that a potential expansion at the plant would have a “very tough time” winning tax incentives from the Republican-controlled Senate in Nashville if the election succeeds. At a time where almost no manufacturer goes anywhere without juicy incentive packages — Volkswagen itself already got $577 million to build its state-of-the-art facility — that’s a serious threat.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2014/02/13/all-eyes-on-chattanooga-vws-workers-are-deciding-the-future-of-unions-in-the-south/?wprss=rss_business&clsrd

        • 0 avatar
          AlternateReality

          Kudos to at least a few GOP lawmakers, then, for having the balls to stick to their convictions and making such threats. Lawmakers wanted a non-UAW auto plant, not Detroit 2.0, and they should do all it takes to preserve that.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Because lawmakers know what’s best. You really are an all assuming piece of sh1t, aren’t you? Thanks for screwing my generation over with an overly powerful government, cooter.

          • 0 avatar
            jkross22

            “Kudos to at least a few GOP lawmakers, then, for having the balls to stick to their convictions”

            Convictions? You mean monied interests.

            Politicians know no other convictions than what they find in other people’s checkbooks.

            That being said, it’s good to see the workers make this decision.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            I would respect their ‘convictions’ if they weren’t always inclined to failed economics attached to such things as being anti-minimum wage or simply being pro-elite practices. If anything the GOP has consistently made it harder to new businesses to succeed because when you unshackle the current businesses they simply press their cash advantage to stop you.

            And frankly isn’t their whole argument about not rewarding business with government largesse? It seems their convictions only extend so far as the end of their checkbooks and how their corporate allies are largely anti-union sectors which would cost them precious profits.

            By the way, Detroit wasn’t brought down by unions, as I posted an article in a previous thread (and lord knows I barely agree with his neo-classical view) it had zero to do with unions and completely to do with an over-saturated market that was bound to collapse as the penny-pinchers were more interested in the bottom line than good cars.

        • 0 avatar
          psychoboy

          if “potential expansion would have a ‘very tough time’ winning tax incentives” isn’t clearly ‘future funding’….i’m not sure what would be.

          “potential expansion” necessarily is future speak, as you cannot potentially expand in the past.

  • avatar
    Jimal

    I don’t see this ever happening with UAW involvement. They need to either start a new union or align with an existing union that isn’t the United Auto Workers.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Indeed, I wonder how much is anti-union or just anti-UAW.

      • 0 avatar
        Jeff Waingrow

        I think this is a very interesting point. I’m pretty much pro-union, in the sense that workers need to organize in order to have a fighting chance against industry. But the U.A.W. is such a toxic brand, that it and unionism in general are often conflated. Perhaps the work council model is a good compromise. It appears to work well in Germany where efficiency and a good working partner are high priorities for many industries. It’s unfortunate that, at a time when the working class in the U.S. is under assault, that the sordid legacy of union corruption and overreach sullies a fundamentally democratic idea.

        • 0 avatar
          agenthex

          > It’s unfortunate that, at a time when the working class in the U.S. is under assault, that the sordid legacy of union corruption and overreach sullies a fundamentally democratic idea.

          The UAW or such has similar (political) problems to any large association. It’s the role of the propagandist to highlight other people’s issue while diverting from their own.

          Rest assured whatever it can be replaced with, the rabble here will comply with any new orders to include replacement in their two minute hate.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          You do understand that the UAW doesn’t have a ‘soiled reputation’ or ‘toxic branding’ outside of basically the narrow enthusiast market and the right-wing sphere of influence? This comes down to the fact that the UAW has been routinely blamed and in public battles with a very public industry. The whole argument has been drummed up by the big-3 every time they go into negotiate. If anything the UAW is about average in terms of unions but the public battles has left them with a more vivid record than other industrial unions.

          • 0 avatar
            SCE to AUX

            Even if your facts are correct, perception is reality to the rest of America that definitely views the UAW as a soiled brand.

            Tell us, how has the UAW’s stellar reputation contributed to its 75% shrinkage?

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            There were 75% fewer workers in the auto industry since 1979. The whole shrinkage argument falls apart on its face because the UAW represents 80% of the auto workers in the US.

            OR….For you who hates the UAW – All those transplant plants represent less than 100,000 workers collectively while the remaining 400K are represented by the UAW.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “You do understand that the UAW doesn’t have a ‘soiled reputation’ or ‘toxic branding’ outside of basically the narrow enthusiast market and the right-wing sphere of influence?”

            Come on, I’m a bleeding heart liberal who doesn’t hate unions and who is fully aware that incompetent management sunk the US auto industry, and even I don’t believe that.

            (And I had some minor dealings with the UAW and personally didn’t find them to be all that bad, nor all that great.)

            The average person blames the union for the crappy cars that Detroit built. While their blame is misplaced, that belief is widely held. It’s the stories about deliberate sabotage and the like that have reinforced that impression.

            Fair or not, the UAW has a considerable image problem. If the union doesn’t see that, then it’s no wonder that it failed at VW — that is a hill that needs to be climbed.

          • 0 avatar
            Jimal

            My admitted bias comes from having a father who worked as a non-union engineer for GM and hearing the stories of… let’s just call it less than efficient ways of the union and its workers.

    • 0 avatar
      05lgt

      If the UAW is a soiled brand, what will the ILWU be soon? I’m conflicted on unions in general, but very anti existing US unions. New seems like the best idea, but I’m pretty sure that existing law has been written to suit the existing unions under alternate majorities, while the guaranteed profit and unlimited action without risk to investors laws were written under the other majorities.

  • avatar
    vent-L-8

    Can’t the election results just be overturned by presidential executive order? I expect a complaint to be filed with a sympathetic labor relations board then Chattanooga can begin experiencing the level of prosperity that the Pennsylvania VW enjoyed and detroit continues to enjoy.

    • 0 avatar
      vent-L-8

      From this morning Detroit Free Press: “UAW President Bob King, in an interview Sunday, said the union would review its legal options this week regarding a possible National Labor Relations Board complaint about outside interference.” I didn’t think it would be this fast.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Jinx, we posted at he same time. I think Bob King’s blabbering on to show he’s a “strong union leader” and the NLRB will rule against the UAW.

        • 0 avatar
          vent-L-8

          I wouldn’t count out the NLRB just yet as they are currently stacked with committed leftists appointed and empowered by this administration. If however the UAW is responsible for fluoridated drinking water then I’ll count that as one of their best accomplishments (cavities suck).

          • 0 avatar
            thornmark

            I’d like to see them try. Can you imagine the blowback?

            btw,

            Harvard Study Confirms Fluoride Reduces Children’s IQ
            http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-mercola/fluoride_b_2479833.html

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Fluoride is actually a poison.

            http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/10/08/fluoridated-milk.aspx

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            As compared when it was stacked with committed Right-wing members during the Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush I & II era? You know, that time when unionization fell dramatically in this country? Because you know….they were so terrible that they faltered on their own and not because a board that was ideologically opposed to them refused to hear their cases.

            I’m not sure the threats from GOP lawmakers constituted enough outside threats but it certainly makes an actual case for them. Especially when one made a distinct lie that VW countered in the days prior. I’m actually OK with them losing at this point, given another year and they’ll more than likely win but I do believe that the NLRB may have to feasibly step in to keep politicians from influencing the vote in their state because they may have a vested interest (i.e. Unions tend to favor their opposing party).

            EDIT: Seriously the anti-fluoride argument people come out? Can we get more right-wing paranoia than this….The first article is about HIGH fluoride (i.e. higher than it should be) and it essentially assumes these massive doses are introduced into lab rats are equatable with children in various locales. The general rule of thumb has been the right amount (which is sadly not always as well regulated as it should be) is perfectly acceptable. In fact the two most common fluorides we use are ‘hazard waste’ in the concentrated forms they come from the plant in. We as a society use only a tiny portion of that for our drinking water…

            This whole discussion creeps into the ‘FEMA camps’ territory. It keeps getting legs because the research is always taken to assume ALL fluoride is bad when they keep finding TOO MUCH fluoride is bad.

        • 0 avatar
          vent-L-8

          I suspect how it will go down is by pushing the NLRB for a card check and not a secret ballot.

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      The President doesn’t have a leg to stand on if he would attempt to write an Executive Order on this. The UAW doesn’t have leg to stand on over this election. The NLRB would have no reason or cause to get involved over the outcome of this election. Detroit got into their civic mess due to bad governance, not UAW involvement. Then again; if you want to blame the UAW for fluoride in drinking water and lower SAT scores; feel free to do so.

    • 0 avatar
      chuckrs

      ‘Can’t the election results just be overturned by presidential executive order?’

      After all, we no longer have rule of law.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        Oh come on! Of course we still have rule of law in the same way we have other laws like banking laws and immigration laws.

        We still have these things, but they’re enforced on an a la carte basis.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Both sides lobby the workers , both sides spent millions , the workers decided, I do not hear anything about improper voting so the UAW lost, move on the workers decided they do not want that union.

  • avatar
    mikey

    @ seth1065…I have to agree with you. As a former UAW/CAW I’m a little disappointed with Bob King. They took it to the rank, and file, and they lost. So Bob, “man up, go home and lick your wounds”. Let VW management, put a workers council in place. See how that works out.

    A few years, is a lifetime in the car business. The UAW should play wait, and see. If the workers at VW change their mind, let them come to the UAW. Right now the UAW is looking pathetic, and desperate.

    Maybe they are, just that????

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Lest we forget

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2014/01/14/supreme-court-case-has-big-implications-for-national-labor-relations-board/

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    This is an attempt to begin the campaign to tear down the foreign nameplates with the UAW … and this effort is backed by the Democrats.

    VW was smart saying they support unionization … if VW were to fight the UAW, Obama would retaliate by launching a Toyota style recall attack on VW.

    Fact is, Detroit vehicles are more expensive and less reliable than most foreign nameplates. Last thing this country needs is more undereducated and overpaid blue collar union workers.

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      A.) VW actually does support unionization. The ‘workers’ councils’ so many of you tout have actual power and act like an independent union within the company. I find it strange because Germany’s unions are practically identical to the US’ except in Germany they actually have real teeth backed by the state.

      B.) ‘Obama would retaliate by launching a Toyota style recall attack on VW’ – Somebody back me up here, do you want this guy speaking for your side of the system? Somebody needs to get Jimmyy some reality. President Obama can’t force a recall of any product in the US. At best he can close the ports to them using what little tariff power the US maintains but even then that’s unrealistic. Nobody is exacting anything on anybody as punishment.

      C.) Fact is? What ‘facts’ are you relying on?

      JD Power has 8 Domestic makes and 14 imports so they are more numerous but the majority of imports are far higher in price (as they are from luxury brands) than their competitors. In fact by and large treating category for category the imports had a higher MSRP for their category if they won. So reliability may be a foreign victory or more or less a Honda/Toyota victory but price is certainly not in their favor as they are substantially more expensive.

      D.) Overpaid blue collar workers? Unionized or not you do realize that the majority of the right-wing is supported by rural blue collar workers in the midwest and south. They uniformly lose cities where white collar workers are. They have found Democrats are slightly less educated on average than Republicans but are also twice the size of the group. So truthfully the right-wing really relies on a national level for delivery on those undereducated and overpaid blue collar workers in rural areas like Chattanooga to survive.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    The vote demonstrates why secret ballot elections are imperative. The UAW got their 50%+1 cards signed, most likely by people who couldn’t be bothered to deal with the confrontation and harassment and knew that they would have their say in the voting booth.

    Something else for the UAW to take back to their strategy meetings: is it worthwhile financially to campaign for these plants with this kind of interest in a RTW state? The election results tell us that out of a workforce of about 1341, there’s 712 people who want nothing to do with the UAW, and are backed by a state law that says they don’t have to join the union or pay dues. Supposing they won their election by 50%+1, would an extra 671 dues-paying members really be worth their time?

    I also don’t think VW has thought this all the way through, either. Let’s suppose that the UAW got in by a narrow margin. Presumably, union membership would be required to be eligible for a seat on the works council. Given the polarization now built into the workforce, would there be any pronouncements from the works council that the non-union workers would be inclined to observe? It seems to me that without an overwhelming display of support, VW would be introducing a toxic level of divisiveness into their workforce.

    Lastly, the governor of TN made a statement to the effect that now that the UAW has been sent on its way, VW is guaranteed to build the new SUV in Chattanooga. VW was gung-ho on the TN works council in order to pacify the German works council into agreeing to the car being built there. What’s the real story?

  • avatar
    skog

    I just finished watching a BBC documentary called “Das Auto” which looks into why the British car industry failed so dreadfully while the Germans were so succesful.

    One of they key factors were the works councils. They provided a forum where representatives of the huge IG Metall union could sit down and discuss the future of the company on equal terms. The workers were taken seriously and so they had an incentive to work hard and accurately. Happy workers are obviously more productive and responsible. The worker representative was sometimes given a place on the board, a company car and an executive office. But they always took care to respect his union status as to not alienate him from the workforce, which must have been tempting if you were looking to divide and rule.

    In Britain, which was and still is extremely class conscious, this could never happen because the factory leadership were all upper middle class and detested the work force. It was unthinkable to let them have a say in how the factory was run. Their demands went unanswered by the arrogant leadership, and militant unionists took over. It wasn’t just about getting a higher salary, it was about being respected as skilled and competent people. But even that was dismissed by the leadership: the social order was not to be tampered with.

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      So, you watched the left wing pro union BBC who is crediting a works council for German success? Are you serious?

      And, exactly what industry leading ideas come out of high school educated manual labor workers who did not have the brains and/or ambition to make it through college?

      What engineering graduate who is in the top 25% of the graduating class would work in a union polluted industry? Some UAW members think their labor is worth nearly as much as a graduate engineer … the sad thing is in some cases they nearly get the same compensation. No wonder top engineers avoid the auto business.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        “Fact is, Detroit vehicles are more expensive and less reliable than most foreign nameplates. Last thing this country needs is more undereducated and overpaid blue collar union workers.”

        I recall reading that a couple of the ways the foreign nameplates got that high quality was by empowering those dumbass blue collar workers to stop the line when problems cropped up, and by going to them for ideas on how to build quality in rather than add it at the end.

        The Japanese brands did not get their worldbeating quality by treating their line workers with contempt.

        • 0 avatar
          AlternateReality

          I’d be curious to know how many Japanese factory workers have been caught boozing and doping while on the job. I’m guessing not a lot… and those who were, only did it once.

          Blue collar autoworkers in this country have done much to earn our contempt – but not as much as the useful idiots in management, the press, and Washington D.C. for enabling such behavior in the first place.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Do us all a favor and stop typing. You are the typical Facebook patriot piece of sh1t – typing your political jargon while wearing your chinese made sh1t, shopping at walmart, patting yourself about cuts in infrastructure then b1tching about how so many people are on welfare after you gutted the nation to make your 401(k) go up and your taxes go down.

            You made an assumption about my character yesterday, now I’m going to pile on your dumb *ss whenever I see your vapid commentary.

          • 0 avatar
            AlternateReality

            You may want to check your calendar; it wasn’t yesterday. Or did you sleep it off through Sunday?

            Back to the subject at hand, I greatly admire a culture that ties a person’s sense of honor to their performance at their job. The UAW could benefit from some seppuku.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            I read your banter yesterday. Unlike you, I apply more of my time towards value added activities instead of parroting Fox News on car blogs. Back on topic: stop typing

            Edit: are you even familiar with the generational culture changes at hand in Japan? Are you a close minded idiot? If you answered No and Yes, you need to get educated.

          • 0 avatar
            AlternateReality

            It humors me how you’re throwing such a tantrum over a comment string that began with your admission of going to work while under the influence of alcohol, which you then proceeded to double down upon by stating how little you cared about the job anyway.

            Your life is your own, to do with as you please… until you walk in the door of your job. At that point, your employer owns your ass, and you are required under terms of your employment to comply with the company’s policies, including the ramifications of actions taken away from the job influencing your performance.

            If you show up at your job under the influence of alcohol – whether drunk, or ‘just’ hung over – then you deserve to lose your job.

            Ditto if you blow a .0001 during a random drug test, because you agreed to zero-tolerance when you signed the paperwork granting the company the right to provide a monetary benefit to you in exchange for services rendered.

            If you don’t understand that, then you’re beyond hope.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            your assumptions are broad. If I am legally sober, and produce a false positive, I’m gone – no questions asked or legal retort allowed due to my state.
            I do understand the work place rules. That is why I told you that I don’t really care about the job – there are others. I like what I do – I’m good at it and I’m flexible, even more reason to not give a sh1t what your closed little mind thinks.

            You generalize – that’s what upsets me. And you have generalized a lot about an industry you know nothing about. The only knowledge you pertain to the membership of the UAW is what your cable news channel tells you, or what a bunch of pimply faced kids on an auto blog tell you. Group think is dangerous, and you’re guilty of it.

          • 0 avatar
            agenthex

            > Your life is your own, to do with as you please… until you walk in the door of your job. At that point, your employer owns your ass, and you are required under terms of your employment to comply with the company’s policies, including the ramifications of actions taken away from the job influencing your performance.

            You seem to revel in this one-sided application of power, which would explain the hatred of measures to even the playing field. History is filled with examples of the serf mentality where the oppressed ironically justify their oppression as necessary to benefit of the powerful, and therefore oppose democracy or other egalitarian ideals. The worst of these are the serfs who’re given some petty authority over their peers and act worse slave-drivers than the aristocracy.

            It’s the same story over and over again, fated to be repeated by those who lack the perspective to see behind the rules from above they pride themselves in following.

          • 0 avatar
            AlternateReality

            tresmonos, you certainly aren’t above making sweeping generalizations. I dare you to find anything in my posts against those who work honorably for a living, regardless of the amount of dirt and grease on their hands.

            My issue has to do with entitlement-minded individuals who think employers are required to provide them with a job, regardless of their skills, sobriety, attitude, or ethical bent. Your attitude in Saturday’s posts came across as having that mindset; if you aren’t like that, then I’ll admit to forming an incorrect assumption about you.

            The underclass I have such contempt for isn’t manual labor; it’s actually quite the opposite. Those who think government and society owe them unwarranted recognition, rights, and avarice are the true problem. While those individuals lie across the entire economic spectrum, history shows us that the UAW has emboldened such behavior among the blue collar set.

          • 0 avatar
            agenthex

            > I dare you to find anything in my posts against those who work honorably for a living.

            There’s a great standing myth that the Japanese are some magical (dare we say exceptional) people whose exploits can’t be repeated elsewhere.

            The quite key part many miss from their success is their society was quite saddled with unionization after the war; but instead of brooding they undertook smart moves across the board to turn this seeming drawback into their tightly integrated continuous improvement system.

            Instead of considering this workforce they can’t easily fire as expendable cogs, they formed teams whose members are responsible to *each other*; you might not care about the man, but you sure don’t want to let your colleagues down. Similarly, just as continuous improvement works on processes, it works on people. When you’re stuck with a given group, it’s wise to invest in them for the long haul. This implies participation in greater decision-making processes that effect their job among others.

            Contrast this with the general Ameri-conservative mentality endemic in detroit management and it’s no surprise the japanese system ended up more efficient and effective when in direct competition.

          • 0 avatar
            VCplayer

            That’s well said agenthex, although I don’t know that I would characterize the American mindset as conservative. More like a lazy and impersonal understanding of people, which was encouraged by early 20th century business schools (looking at you, Harvard).

            When science considers people to be more or less interchangeable, there’s no reason to bother with investing in one that’s broken. Both liberal and conservative views can bring about this sort of brutish disregard for individuality.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Damn, replied to the wrong thread. AR: see my reply below.

            Edit:
            agenthex: We failed with education. The Japanese had motivation to rebuild and their culture (from being an island nation) drove that manufacturing mindset. I don’t think the younger Japanese generations have that same ethic. What does help the Japanese is their corporate culture. Everything that was wrong with the OEM I worked with could be traced to cost and unwillingness to change or spend more on a part or work with the right supplier. I can see the difference as I now deal with multiple OEM’s. The hidden costs of purchasing are brutal. Take all of this with a grain of salt as the Japanese OEM’s are now venturing into leveraging NAFTA and China (when they can). I think that’s why my Japanese employer liked my credentials, I’m a g0d d4mned NAFTA mercenary.

          • 0 avatar
            agenthex

            > although I don’t know that I would characterize the American mindset as conservative.

            To clarify the description, it’s the result of a mindset which assumes everything can be reduced to a price and that the invisible hand of the market will always work out for “the best”, where “the best” is conveniently defined as the its results.

            That’s why if this system of rules fails someone it’s axiomatically their own dumb fault for not playing a rather chaotic and unfair game to their advantage. Some factions just believe in the inerrancy of such an arbitrary system more than others.

          • 0 avatar
            Xeranar

            I’m intrigued to know how many you think are ‘boozing and doping on the job’. In fact outside of that Chrysler incident I’ve heard zero about it being a problem. Course this is a problem being used to fit your worldview to support your personal agenda. I really would suggest stopping because as stated the other two (and really three) countries that make stellar cars are pro-worker and pro-union if in a different formation. They’re not as corporately driven and fundamentally Germany and Japan are more liberal than us in terms of economics.

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          “Those who think government and society owe them unwarranted recognition, avarice, and rights are the true problem”

          Take out the word government – and you describe how you have come off since I engaged your commentary. Nothing makes you and I special. Nothing makes employers special, pensions are dead. You are an asset and there is a dollar figure assigned to your competencies. I have worked on international programs where I have outsourced hundreds of automotive engineering jobs along with the plants that build the product. The problem with your complaints is that your are complaining about a symptom. You should be looking at the root cause – we’re correcting for the lack of global commerce post WWII. Who cares if a measly 80,000 people have a high paying union job assembling vehicles? You are literally making a mountain out of a mole hill.

          Most of those people who are on the ‘draw’ are products of pacification due to our infrastructure not being prepared for global commerce. Once you push someone down, it’s extremely hard to get back up to where your formal social status was, especially when the work pays $10/hr. My plant turns down hundreds of applications a month. Turnover from marijuana tests is ridiculously high. If you walked a mile in these people’s shoes who went to high school, graduated and expected to do what their parents did, maybe then you could judge them. I’ve lost many good employees to bullsh1t and it infuriates me to see privileged people talk down about any labor. I’ve been in UAW plants and right to work plants in Ontario, Michigan, Illinois, Nebraska, South Carolina, Kentucky, Missouri and Mexico. In every facility I’ve worked in, I haven’t met one lazy, worthless employee who was high or drunk on the line. Yeah, they may toke it up at home. They may have a few beers here or there, but your generalizations don’t fit the bill of material that I’ve dealt with in automotive.

          On the flip side: when I worked in food processing, no white person could pass the narco test to work the line to cut meat. If they did, they’d work to qualify for benies then they’d cut out. We’d use E-verify to hire Hispanics. The SS# would check out with the tools we were given, then we’d have ICE raid our 4sses and we’d lose all our hard working employees. The owners of that op are getting fed up an soon they will outsource the plant to Mexico. To heck with this country.

          The unionized still have their jobs, the mill workers that all lost their jobs in the 90′s don’t. Those UAW employees that do have their jobs – tell me how it personally impacts you? Does it impact you more than the failure of our public education impacted the residents of the mill village that I live in? I don’t think so and no matter what you can tell me, it won’t matter because I see this sh1t with my own eyes every day. That additional cost Ford accrues is saved in global penny pinching that doesn’t impact it’s bottom line. It’s a profitable company with well paid employees. What a concept.

          As for the assumption you made regarding quality of ‘UAW’ built vehicles: You got it wrong. Purchasing, international suppliers and engineering have more to do with the minimal perceived quality gap that exists. Any given global platform Ford has more multinational parts on it than a shelf at Home Depot. Coordinating Mulally’s procurement strategy has been Ford’s biggest headache beside MFT. Assembly quality does exist, but its not on the same magnitude as you would like to think. And that quality gap lies more on the line of cash – OEM’s don’t want to spend money on a fix or in plant change if they can pin it to a supplier. Ford and GM are big on this whereas any other OEM (even Chrysler) isn’t.

          Trust me: my generation realizes there isn’t a free lunch. I’m lucky enough to have a job. A lot of my friends who couldn’t get a job due to the economic recession are at the point where they don’t care anymore. They make ends meet and f*ck all the rest. Had someone been there to teach them the value of skilled trades (google tool and die apprenticeships), or give them the will to work with their hands or offer them good advice on degree selection, you wouldn’t see as much of the glut of unemployment, dependency on welfare, etc. This country does a p1ss poor job at readying it’s workforce. Times were great when your generation was at the helm. We got fat, happy and lazy and look at what has happened. So when I see someone cast down unflattering commentary and pin it on an attitude or specific aggregate, I get really p1ssed off. Suck it up and take what your 401(k) growth and low taxes and big government gave you. I know it sucks but there is no use in b1tching about it. We all saw the lives our parents had and we don’t have it. Human nature is to covet it and believe that it is deserved to be their own fate.

          What I did recently: I quit my last job, got a job in the states again, buy all my sh1t made in the USA and am active with the local politics I agree with. And drink a few craft beers G0d d4mnit and if that gets me fired from my over zealous employer, f*ck it. I can go back and work for my former employer again.

          There are no stereo types. There are good people in every walk of life and every manufacturing sector. And I see the suck of the manufacturing sector and the results. Our immigration and domestic policies are failing and neither party seems to have a grasp on the solution. There has been no political party that championed the plight of the blue collar and if there has been one that has been remotely close, it’s probably not the party I’m affiliated with.

          • 0 avatar
            VCplayer

            I want to give you a standing ovation sir, bravo. When I was in school I quietly shook my head and sighed at every poly-sci, art history, and femenuat studies major I met… which was probably 75% of the people I knew.

            I’m not against the concept of degrees like that (I have a pretty useless degree too), but way too many kids are spending 4 years and $80,000+ worth of debt to have no employable skills.

          • 0 avatar
            AlternateReality

            Well, yes, there are stereotypes. They’re a fact of life, and not a single stereotype exists that isn’t grounded in some truth. The secret lies in not presenting yourself as one.

            Today I make a very comfortable living within the top 5% of American incomes, and I do so entirely on the strength of my particular skillset. I show up, I do the job, and I go home. I’ve never showed up to work even remotely intoxicated, stoned, or otherwise compromised. Those shouldn’t be particularly difficult bars for anyone to clear.

            There also hasn’t been a single moment in my professional career when I’ve felt complacent, or “entitled” to my lot in life, because I know that in my industry someone with similar talents may be willing to do the same work for less. It keeps me on my toes, and I think makes me that much better at what I do.

            And not once have I wished there were a union to ensure my professional survival. To do so, in my considered opinion, is an inherently weak stance. It also creates the very marginalization of individual rights that others espouse as a reason why unions are necessary, in favor of collectivism. If I do more and better work than Bill, Jim or Julio, then I deserve more.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            If we all had been guided to the right degree and had an education that made us ‘plug and play’ in the profession (like my ed did), half of the old guys b1tching about America wouldn’t have a job as there would be a kid to do their job at half the rate.

            @AR: Your percentile doesn’t impress me, nor does your reply. That would place you at a plant manager’s level or the equivalent of my salary in some yuppie locale. AKA I don’t give a f*ck. If the intent was to impress, your opinion means less than it did earlier. You are clearly insulated from manufacturing. Be happy with your bubble. Your demeanor makes a lot more sense, now.

            So what do you expect the rest of the nation to do? In order for your income to mean something, the standard of living has to be lower. If you make that much and pay TTAC this much attention, how come a line worker doesn’t deserve a fair wage? I’m not talking Unions. That point is moot as the majority of the remaining manufacturing infrastructure isn’t unionized. Does it bother you that the parts on your caliper emblazoned Accord were made by people making 10 bucks an hour in the states and go home and use food stamps for their family because their income doesn’t cut it? Or are you just that big of an 4sshole and you think everyone is out for your pile of gold?

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Also, AR: I’m still harping on you as you generalized the population of the UAW. If you would like to remove that generalization and just say that you don’t agree with unions, I’ll put my foot in my mouth, apologize and back off.

          • 0 avatar
            AlternateReality

            Your resentment bleeds through your knee-jerk reply, tresmonos. Enjoy your cerveza.

            And if UAW members don’t want to be generalized, they should do a better job of distancing themselves from the less-desirable elements… or, perhaps, the union itself. We are all judged by the company we keep.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “I show up, I do the job, and I go home… There also hasn’t been a single moment in my professional career when I’ve felt complacent, or “entitled” to my lot in life.”

            All that is great stuff. It is when you start talking about exterminating the undesirables that you start to lose me.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            You are right, I do resent you and everyone that propagates your cable news scope BS. Keep drinking that Fox News kool aide, I’ll try to smile when I try to fix your sh1tty country, decades after your bones are rotting in the earth.

          • 0 avatar
            AlternateReality

            “It is when you start talking about exterminating the undesirables that you start to lose me.”

            Tell me there isn’t scum walking around that we’d be much better off without. (And I know I’m setting up tres with an easy one here.)

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Jesus dancing Christ. You are one evil cut throat individual. I hope you aren’t talking out of the scope of the penal system.

            Edit: your viewpoint makes me feel like I’m a blushing liberal and I voted for Ron Paul.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “Tell me there isn’t scum walking around that we’d be much better off without.”

            Did you just say that? Who gets to decide who is scum, you?

          • 0 avatar
            agenthex

            > And not once have I wished there were a union to ensure my professional survival. To do so, in my considered opinion, is an inherently weak stance.

            The comparative advantages of collective bargaining and whatnot are pretty obvious. This only shows that you’re comparatively poor at determining advantage, which is why you deserve to make less than you probably could in the current system.

            For example, even those working in rather well paid occupations have employers that collectively leverage advantages like more open immigration (ie H1b’s, etc) for lower wages. It’s evident they’re less stupid than some of their employees.

            > It also creates the very marginalization of individual rights that others espouse as a reason why unions are necessary, in favor of collectivism. If I do more and better work than Bill, Jim or Julio, then I deserve more.

            That’s quaint how some can be so loyal to those under no trite ideological hindrances.

          • 0 avatar
            AlternateReality

            Ahem. Scum = gangbangers, rapists, murderers, welfare queens, etc. Those who rampantly take from or endanger society with no meaningful contribution to it in return.

            And no, I don’t have the power to decide that, nor should I. But that doesn’t change my opinion.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Ahem, Scum= Lawyers, politicians, religious hypocrites…

            One man’s scum is another man’s…

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            If my options are supporting a state of “welfare queens” to the detriment of my lifestyle or killing everyone on government assistance, then I take welfare state.

            Convicted violent criminals are another issue, but I still believe in due process in those cases.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Well, isn’t that Christlike of you

          • 0 avatar
            agenthex

            > Jesus dancing Christ. You are one evil cut throat individual. I hope you aren’t talking out of the scope of the penal system.

            Our penal system largely reforms criminals into bigger and badder ones. In other words, society is better off not locking them up at all than suffer such a result. Take a respite and let that sink in. Yet the same folks whose “get tough” approach is responsible for this want a “get tougher” follow-up with more lockups and create even more/worse crims in this obvious spiral. It could easily pass for the Joker’s most cunning plan ever or the dumbest thing of all time if not for other qualified nominees from generally the same group of morons.

      • 0 avatar
        chuckrs

        “And, exactly what industry leading ideas come out of high school educated manual labor workers who did not have the brains and/or ambition to make it through college?”

        What an elitist question. Are you channeling your inner Brit rather than your inner German? Perhaps you could ask that of the Wright brothers, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and others. They were from time when accomplishments were more important than credentials. Today’s college credentials are often pretty dodgy, especially when granted in grievance studies and cultural ephemera.

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          Most college ‘University’ degrees are more meaningless than the paper their written on. There are better odds of employment through technical educations through ‘junior’ colleges than established academia in this economic climate.

        • 0 avatar
          jimmyy

          You cite examples of inventions when the world was a simple place. In todays world, Henry Ford and the Wright Brothers would not be a factor.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Bill Gates never graduated from college. Steve Jobs and Wozniak didn’t either.

            I guess their legacies aren’t a factor in today’s world.

          • 0 avatar
            OldandSlow

            Wikipedia has a list of college dropout billionaires.

            It includes Mark Zuckleberg and Michael Dell.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            jimmy:
            Look up John D. Hollingsworth Jr. There is a modern day industrialist without anything beyond the skills he learned as an apprentice. His innovations yielded efficiency in everything you decided to clothe yourself in today. His wealth and estate will benefit generations of people long after my bones will have disintegrated.

          • 0 avatar
            jimmyy

            I have news for all of you. Those overpaid and over benefited UAW workers are no Bill Gates. Their skills are more comparable to people working in Sears automotive. It is an injustice that some of these people are paid nearly as well as someone with a graduate engineering degree. It is even a greater injustice that people who buy Detroit branded vehicles are overpaying for overpaid UAW workers. It is the greatest injustice that the overpaid UAW workers have destroyed the once great Detroit industrial machine, which was a national asset.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Thanks for the insightful news report, jimmyy. We get it, you don’t like the UAW or the fact that some of their members are comparatively well paid.

            That aside, it doesn’t benefit your cause to make such broad assumptions about large groups of people. You asked a (rhetorical) question, and got some serious answers. You then made an erroneous assertion, and were shown to be wrong. Give up now.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Hey jimmy:
            I disagree with you. I worked with some very talented individuals that were part of the UAW. I never dived into their opinion of the UAW, but I can assure you that they can communicate more well thought out discussion points than you certainly can.

            FWIW I now execute my profession on ‘non Detroit’ vehicles. The humanity! No vehicle is safe!

          • 0 avatar
            agenthex

            > Wikipedia has a list of college dropout billionaires. It includes Mark Zuckleberg and Michael Dell.

            Something worth noting about these sorts of dropouts is they also tend to come from backgrounds good enough that failure is an option. The Lakeside School or Phillips Exeter are about as rarefied as they come. In effect they had a substantial safety net to fall back onto should their adolescent dreams disappear.

            In contrast most from lesser backgrounds can’t be expected to give up a diploma that employers now require for any prospects.

            Let the many other implications of that sink in for a bit as we also consider this context for why the “education bubble” is in effect. When surplus labor is common, the stigma of falling into a lower economic class must be avoided at any cost. It really doesn’t matter what your degree is in, it only matters that you’re not a dirty working class man to be shunned by society as exemplified by comments from our wannabe gentry here.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          When the wrights, Ford, and Edison were active science at the university level was rudimentary. In fact there was as much science being done by private citizens with the urge as there was at universities. As the world has gotten more complex so have the tools and the assets to get involved.

          As an aside, we need lots of scientists but if we kill the arts in favor of business we’ll have no culture for which our advancements are made. This is the failure of neo-classical views to accept that not all of us need to be angry bitter capitalists. Some of us are here to educate and help, money is merely a transaction format because we refuse to accept egalitarian ways due to ego.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        jimmy,
        just because you live in America (where public education is a joke) doesn’t mean that other nations don’t enable their citizens.

      • 0 avatar
        OldandSlow

        The Brits rarely axed a model once it was past its peak sales period. A Rover 2000 had to compete with the previous P5 for at least a decade. The Morris Minor had a good run and the Mini outlived them all.

        The truth is that neither Red Robo nor Lord Stokes deserve all the credit in the downward spiral of the domestic British auto industries.

        It was Tony Benn the Minister of Technology in the Labour Government who forced Jaguar, Rover and finally Triumph/Standard into a shotgun wedding with a then nearly bankrupt BMC. Tony Benn’s previous job was that of Postmaster General.

        Imagine if the Obama Team had did the same with GM, Ford and Chrysler in 2009.

        BMC was already stuck in a downward spiral in 1967. A leader in front wheel drive offerings, whose execution often resembled the GM X body cars. British Leyland was doomed from the start.

        Just the infighting for inadequate financial resources by what had been previously independent automakers was enough to insure that none of new models would build a world class reputation, i.e. a Triumph Stag with the inhouse V8 put together from two 4 cylinder engines versus the Rover/Buick unit.

        Government interference and union militancy just made the downward slope slipperier. Closing a plant or entire brand wouldn’t happen until 1975 when Tony Benn’s name comes into play again.

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          “Imagine if the Obama Team had did the same with GM, Ford and Chrysler in 2009.”

          By putting Rattner in charge of the bailout/bankruptcy, they pretty much did.

          • 0 avatar
            OldandSlow

            The bail out under Rattner wasn’t even close to the British Leyland debacle.

            Chrysler, Ford and GM are still three separate entities each under different management and ownership. That wasn’t the case with British Leyland – it was a coerced merger of most British domestic marques into one big GM.

      • 0 avatar
        skog

        “left wing pro union BBC”. Ron Paul, is that you? lol!

    • 0 avatar
      cackalacka

      There was a time where we as a society valued work.

      Now we demean work and value wealth.

      Hence the contempt being heaved by our little spittle-flecked friends. One can argue the merits and strikes against the UAW, but bashing people who work for a living? Get real.

      I’ve got an engineering degree, and I’ve got to say, some of the most talented and motivated people I’ve encountered professionally don’t have advanced degrees, and anyone who has ever worked with a Duke graduate has seen entitled sloth in action.

      I encourage our young conservative friends to troll on.

      • 0 avatar
        shelvis

        Indeed.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I’m a white-collar guy with an MBA from a first-tier internationally recognized program, but I have to agree with you.

        There are far too many among us who believe that sitting in a cubicle makes them better people. It’s nauseating, frankly; just more cheap two-bit tribalism, exactly at a time that we don’t need it.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          TREMBLE BEFORE MY ASSORTMENT OF TASTEFUL NECKTIES AND AUDI A4!!!

          STAND IN AWE OF MY ABILITY TO BESMIRCH PF CHANG’S AND HAVE AN OPINION ON FINE TIMEPIECES!!!

      • 0 avatar
        LeeK

        I believe TTAC’s Steve Lang is a Duke graduate, and he seems to work pretty hard. So do Tim Cook, Charlie Rose, Kenneth Star, Elizabeth Dole, Reggie Love, Judy Woodruff, Jay Bilas, Mike Gminski, Rick Wagoner, Ron Paul, Grant Hill, and Melinda Gates. Yes, even Richard Nixon worked hard, too.

        Broad, sweeping generalizations about a particular university’s alumnae is usually dead wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        I am glad the people who I read and value their commentary at TTAC have taken this stance.

        TTAC has made my head hurt the past few days. If I get banned for being an 4sshole here, so be it. I need to take a lesson of tact from cackalacka.

        Edit: I agree with Leek.

        • 0 avatar
          cackalacka

          tresmonos, please lean in. I get the feeling that you and I probably wouldn’t see eye to eye on many, if not most, things. That said, I agree with almost everything you’ve said in this thread. Trolls don’t deserve tact, and keyboard commandos who disparage labor because such tasks are suited for ‘the other’ don’t warrant a polite response.

          • 0 avatar
            mikey

            I learned at a very young age, that letting my superiors think that I’m stupid,could be to my advantage.

            Judging one’s intellect, or lack of,by their education, is a common mistake. Made by many.

            In the course of my life, I’ve crossed paths with many “jimmy’s”. Judging my mind , works out to just “playing into my hand”

            I find it endlessly entertaining, in chewing them up, and spitting them out on the floor. Like the piece of crap that they are.

        • 0 avatar
          el scotto

          Tresmonos,
          Think of all the commenters on here who are disparaging unions and blue collar workers. Now imagine them working for you. Promise them a 100% pay raise if they wore panties on their head to work tomorrow. Being corporate toadies who’d throw their mom under the bus; they’ll gladly wear panties on their flat heads. Take their pics and then fire them for being so stupid. Hey, the pics are the company’s intellectual property and they signed an employment contract. I’d make sure a couple union guys would be wearing panties on their heads as they waved goodbye to the toadies.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            heh, that’s what my company’s drug test policy is. It’s the equivalent to panties on someone’s head.

            I wish I had grown up in the 50′s. I would loved to have been able to make the same standard of living I do now via a skilled trade. Maybe I should look into a Tool and Die program

            What riles me up are blanket statements and the personal connections I have with UAW members. One thing I can say is this: all of those workers are providing for their families. They don’t take their pay for granted, but they’ve all been part of a plant getting shuttered. Loyalty to an employer is stupidity, unless you have control of that employer.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Surely, since the line workers aren’t unionized and have just in fact rejected being so designated, the management and the workers can put together all the work conditions, vacation pay etc. study groups they want.

    Because there is no “us” and “them” at the moment. Everyone working at Chattanooga is non-union and not subject to some interfering bureaucrat at the NLRB, or the vast intellectual slanted advice of Tennessee (or anywhere else, they’re all scum to me) politicians.

    Yes, there is always some management hierarchy in any working group. Often the white collar workers are never unionized and get the short end of the stick from those supervisors whose only talent is terrorizing their direct reports. Been there felt that, tried not to dish it out.

    But if VW is truly interested in what their workers think, then they could organize their own work councils.

    It’s only decades-old culture, now enshrined in outdated labor law that splits up all the workers into “management” and “labor”, as if it had to be that way for ever, just because.

    To me, that’s BS.

    It takes a leap of faith into a brighter future, but it seems to me that in a non-unionized plant, it’s nobody else’s business how adults come together to create a well run operation.

    But of course, the hidebound souls of labor relations past will shout and complain that this is mere artifice to get their interference off the backs of people who just want to get on with the job. That lot prefer the old definitions and face to face confrontation instead, while forgetting what the ultimate goal of having labor relations boards was in the first place — better running institutions.

    We have become totally engrossed in protecting “turf”, whether union, management or poncy labor arbitrators. We can put a billion transistors on the head of a pin, but cannot accept a simple “Good Morning” from someone on “the other side” without imputing some evil attempt to undermine our souls.

    Then paranoid wackos start shooting. Time for a change.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      “But if VW is truly interested in what their workers think, then they could organize their own work councils.”

      No, they can’t. That would be illegal in the United States, hence the issue.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        By the strict definition of the term, it is legal. There are labor relations committees, morale committees, etc. I’m not sure what would cross the line as being illegal. That or I’ve been a part of numerous illegal groups in my tenure in manufacturing. Correct me if I’m wrong or am off base.

      • 0 avatar
        fvfvsix

        Aahh yes. It is illegal, thanks to unions like the UAW, UFCW, the IBT and their paid lobbyists.

        However, I’d love to see how much crap the US government would step into trying to enforce that unconstitutional POS law.

        I say, Go for it VW.

        • 0 avatar
          Xeranar

          Please, the wagner act outlawed company unions because they were effective tools of the management to control. The worker’s council in Germany is far different but is still a non-independent entity.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      Usually, lean organizations have Kaizen event ‘teams’ that include everyone – management, engineers, production associates.’ The places (that I’ve worked) where this plant culture exists usually never bring a card check vote in.

      I think the politicians who muddied the waters here were imbeciles. As soon as you politicize the culture in a plant, it gets warped – just like the comments section of the last article TTAC reported about this. The people who built that plant’s culture now have to deal with the fall out.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        A works council is something more than that. It’s closer to being a union local.

        And company unions are illegal in the US. If VW wants a works council, then there needs to be a legitimate union of some kind.

        • 0 avatar
          tresmonos

          Got it. A central hierarchy that decides if the plant goes to work, how much it makes and has collective membership.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I’m not exactly sure what role that works councils play in negotiating wages or deciding to strike in Germany, but they do deal with local work rules, employee terminations and the like.

            If I’m not mistaken, the wage negotiations occur at the national level, not at the local works council level. But I could be wrong about that.

        • 0 avatar
          fvfvsix

          Hey, we stopped being a nation of laws a long time ago.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Hard to understand the value proposition of the UAW from the workers’ point of view, it seems to me.

    The real benefit of unions in the pre-globalization days was that they could keep workers for company A from competing with workers for company B. So, if company A was going to compete with company B on price, it was going to have to do this with other cost inputs, not labor costs.

    With globalization, that’s just not possible. Production will just move somewhere else, if labor costs get too high. I was surprised that no one mentioned IG Metall’s obvious interest in keeping low labor costs in the U.S. (relative to Germany) from causing jobs to get moved out of Germany and away from their members. In case anyone noticed, during the past 30 – 40 years, European automakers generally have retreated (at least in the U.S., if not elsewhere) in the face of lower-priced competition from Asia. Some companies, like Audi and BMW, managed to covert themselves to “luxury” brands. Others failed, or are failing (Saab, Volvo, Jaguar). VW, never a luxury brand, and owned by a parent that has a luxury brand, is in a difficult spot. In the U.S. it competes with Honda, Toyota, Nissan, and Hyndai, not to mention the increasingly strong “domestic” nameplates.

    So, the IG Metall folks and the UAW have a lot in common, in that their “business model” may not have much relevance in the 21st century global market.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The UAW has to grow or die.

      It has no choice but to try to add membership if it wants to survive. The fact that it has a difficult product to sell doesn’t change its need for new revenue streams.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    It appears this is indeed a larger blow to the UAW than they want to admit. Even some of the bloggers are attempting to talk down this defeat.

    Here’s the reasons why;
    1. The UAW changed it’s model of interaction between worker and management/employer. Why? To placate the ‘rank and file’.

    2. The UAW invested heavily into few workers to influence. How much per worker did the UAW invest? What returns came of this investment.

    3. Management/employer supported the UAW’s European/German model.

    So, it appears with both the UAW and employer, they still couldn’t convince the worker. Something is wrong if the workers’ don’t trust the employer and union.

    Just reading the point (2) regarding the research the UAW have carried out prior to trying to control the workers at Chattanooga was flawed, or they just are poor decision makers.

    The UAW knew they had a challenge. So why did they invest thousands of dollars per worker for a possible lose?

    This alone displays the the UAW shouldn’t represent any worker as they don’t consider the financial aspect of poor decision making.

    This poor attitude towards good financial management also contributed to the demise of Detroit.

    Will they ever learn?? Money means nothing to them, because the government will give a ready supply of cash whenever they cry.

    Just like the auto manufacturers.

    What selfish people you have controlling your industry, from both the left and right of politics.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      The UAW has to grow or die.

      It has no choice but to try to add membership if it wants to survive. The fact that it has a difficult product to sell doesn’t change its need for new revenue streams.

  • avatar
    Carl Kolchak

    I do not see this as a repudiation of the Works Council Idea, but rather a loud NO ! to the UAW. This is what I see.

    1. Cultural/Political- The UAW is joined at the hip to the Democratic party, not exactly a stalwart of traditional values- TN is the Bible Belt, not the Rust Belt
    2. Reputation- The UAW bought itself a lot of trouble when it agreed to 2 tier pay scales. it is not just them, (used to belong to the UFCW, they had them). the UAW is not exactly tied with Boy Scouts for popularity
    3. Detroit- I cannot say what part (if any) the UAW had to do with Detroit’s downfall, but I can the reluctance to involve themselves with any association to Detroit

    This would be a good time for a “single issue” bill to go through Congress, amending the Wagner Act to allow a Union just for this type of situation, but I am not holding my breath. This would also be a perfect situation for a small, bi- partisan union to come in, but I think the UAW would scare most comers off.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I’ll ask again: What problem would UAW representation solve for the Chattanooga workers? I’m not aware of any.

    • 0 avatar
      agenthex

      > What problem would UAW representation solve for the Chattanooga workers?

      Does something have to be an immediate solution to be worthwhile? For example, why do you buy insurance?

    • 0 avatar
      Xeranar

      I’ll answer that: It will give the workers a true independent voice and decision making process. Transplants pay on average better than the area around them (and before people get into this ‘But but…THEY NEED LESS!’ argument lets ignore the locale and realize that most goods are not regionally based and thus while rent is lower it is not an argument for lower pay overall) and while they may not fight over wages today the more integrated discussion that an independent union can have if VW wants a worker’s council can only be legally enshrined through an independent union. The ultimate issue while VW has a legally enshrined worker’s council system the US has no such rule. Thus they need the independent union to work with them to establish this.

      EDIT: agenthex beat me to it, but ultimately the whole point is while VW may want to continue to work with the workers for now that may inevitably change.

      If you want to ask why anybody needs a union, well higher wages, better working conditions, and frankly a better standard of living. Union workers make substantially more than their non-unionized compatriots and don’t have nearly the problems that non-union shops have. Globalization and free trade are pointless arguments to make against them because ultimately they’re not a required feature of society. We can change how we operate as a country if we so wish and while I doubt we’ll be breaking the back of ‘free trade’ in the next decade but in the next few decades that approach is going to look less and less attractive.


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