The Truth About Cars » united auto workers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Apr 2014 22:57:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » united auto workers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com UAW Subpoenas Haslam, Corker To Appear At VW NLRB Appeal Hearing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/uaw-subpoenas-haslam-corker-to-appear-at-vw-nlrb-appeal-hearing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/uaw-subpoenas-haslam-corker-to-appear-at-vw-nlrb-appeal-hearing/#comments Fri, 11 Apr 2014 09:30:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=793666 Governor_Bill_Haslam

Tennessee governor Bill Haslam and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker are just two of the 20 prominent Tennessee witnesses subpoenaed by the United Auto Workers to appear at the union’s hearing before the National Labor Resource Board later this month, where the UAW will appeal the results of the organizing election held at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga back in February of this year.

The Detroit News reports the 20 witnesses subpoenaed are ordered to bring emails and documents related to a state government incentive made to VW in the aim of bringing production of a planned midsize SUV to Tennessee. Outgoing UAW president Bob King defended his union’s decision:

The purpose of the NLRB’s investigation is to determine the truth concerning the third-party interference in the February election at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant. The NLRB’s rules call for the use of subpoenas as part of this truth-seeking exercise. The UAW hopes that all parties who receive subpoenas will fully comply by providing the NLRB with the requested documents and with their testimony.

The action comes on the heels of an exposé conducted by Nashville CBS affiliate WTVF-TV regarding documents linking the Haslam administration to an incentive proposal made to the German automaker on the alleged condition the plant in Chattanooga remain unorganized; the proposal was withdrawn in January ahead of the election.

Among the others subpoenaed by the UAW include Tennessee house speaker Beth Harwell, economic development commissioner Bill Hagerty, and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist.

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Leaked Documents Link Anti-Union VW Incentive Offer To TN Governor’s Office http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/leaked-documents-link-anti-union-vw-incentive-offer-to-tn-governors-office/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/leaked-documents-link-anti-union-vw-incentive-offer-to-tn-governors-office/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 14:15:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=786417 092112_WEB_a_VW_Sign_t618

Leaked documents linked to the United Auto Workers battle for the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. point to a connection between Governor Bill Haslam and the German automaker regarding a $300 million incentive in exchange for over 1,300 jobs at a proposed SUV plant within the state.

WTVF-TV reports the incentives were contingent “to works council discussions between the State of Tennessee and VW being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee.” By the time Volkswagen entered into election talks with the UAW in January, however, the Haslam administration formally notified the automaker that it was withdrawing the offer, citing that it had kept the offer on the table past the 90-day window normally reserved for incentives when the incentive in question had no such expiration date.

Though Haslam has denied any such connection to the incentive — dubbed “Project Trinity” — U.S. Senator Bob Corker claimed as early as February of this year that the offering would be made should the workers at the Chattanooga plant vote against representation by the union.

As for the UAW, organizer Gary Casteel stated the following in response to whether the now-public documents were a game-changer in the union’s appeal to the National Labor Relations Board over the election results:

To me, it puts pressure on the state to do what they should have done in the first place — and that’s give the incentives with no strings attached, just like they would any other company, union or non-union.

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UAW Sees Fourth Consecutive Increase In Membership http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uaw-sees-fourth-consecutive-increase-in-membership/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uaw-sees-fourth-consecutive-increase-in-membership/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 12:58:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785185 Bob King

Under the leadership of outgoing president Bob King, the United Auto Workers have seen their rolls increase to 9,000 members in 2013, marking the fourth consecutive year of increases for the union.

Automotive News reports the current total membership holds at 391,415, up 2.3 percent from 2012. The increase can be attributed to recruitment drives at IC Bus, Flex-a-Gate and Faurecia, as well as casinos in Ohio and Las Vegas.

Annual membership last declined in 2009, when 355,191 remained from 2008′s 431,037 figure after the Detroit Three fended off declining sales and production amid the onset of the Great Recession. 2008′s figure, however, pales in comparison to the UAW’s peak roll of over 1.5 million members in 1979.

Despite the increase in membership, the UAW is still battling over plants in the south, including the high-profile fights in Chattanooga, Tenn. and Canton, Miss., the former of which resulted in a loss at the polls earlier this year.

Spending is also down for the union — $214 million in 2013 vs. $260 million in 2012 — due to falling dues and low membership. A dues increase is expected to be put to vote at the UAW’s June convention, where King’s replacement will also be elected.

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Ford: Gettelfinger Should Be Credited For Saving Company http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-gettelfinger-should-be-credited-for-saving-company/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ford-gettelfinger-should-be-credited-for-saving-company/#comments Fri, 28 Mar 2014 12:45:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=782865 King + Gettlefinger - Ford + Mullaly

Ford’s executive chairman Bill Ford, Jr. told CNBC this week that former United Auto Workers president Ron Gettelfinger “doesn’t get enough credit for helping save Ford.

Automotive News reports the UAW worked closely with the Blue Oval to avoid the fates that befell Chrysler and General Motors in the run-up to the Great Recession, as Ford Jr. explained in a live interview on CNBC’s “Squawk Box”:

When our times were darkest in the ’07, ’08, ’09 time frame, the UAW helped our industry get back on its feet, helped Ford get back on its feet. Ron Gettelfinger, the former president of the United Auto Workers, doesn’t get enough credit for helping save Ford.

The chairman went on to say that in the automaker’s darkest hour, he turned to Gettelfinger to “save the Ford Motor Co.” For Ford, this meant concessions by the union, including two-tier wages, overtime pay after 40 hours of work, and giving up vacation time. In turn, the Blue Oval lowered labor cost to $58/hour per employee.

When asked why the UAW was turned away from the South — specifically the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. — Ford, Jr. noted the region’s attitude toward organized labor in general, as well as how the automaker views its workers in comparison:

Surprised? No, because there’s a long history of organizing that didn’t go well in the South. I would say this. We’ve had a great relationship with our workforce. I don’t look at them as union and nonunion but as Ford workers. … We have a lot of second-, third-, fourth-, fifth- and even sixth-generation workers at Ford in our company.

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UAW Will Appeal NLRB Decision Giving Anti-UAW VW Workers Voice http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uaw-will-appeal-nlrb-decision-giving-anti-uaw-vw-workers-voice/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/uaw-will-appeal-nlrb-decision-giving-anti-uaw-vw-workers-voice/#comments Thu, 13 Mar 2014 11:39:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=770945 092112_WEB_a_VW_Sign_t618

Angered by the decision made by the National Labor Relations Board to allow anti-UAW Volkswagen workers to defend the results of an election held last month at the VW plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. on whether or not to be represented by the United Auto Workers, the union has vowed to appeal.

Reuters reports the union believes the NLRB discarded its own precedent by allowing the workers — supported by both the National Right To Work Legal Defense Foundation and Southern Momentum, two of the outside groups that had campaigned against organization by the UAW — a formal role in the dispute, and expressed their displeasure in a statement:

It is an outrage that their allies, who refused to reveal their funding sources and who openly republished the illicit threats in the media and among the Volkswagen workforce, will now be allowed to participate in the NLRB hearing.

Though it was the regional office in Atlanta who signed-off on the decision to allow the anti-UAW workers a valid voice in the dispute, the UAW plans to appeal directly to the five-member NLRB board in Washington, D.C. The office is overseeing the main dispute over the election results — whose decision could lead to a new election if all is found in favor of the UAW — and is planning an investigation regarding the outside interference alleged by the union to be the main cause of their loss.

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IG Metall Warns Against Yellow Union For Chattanooga VW Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ig-metall-warns-against-yellow-union-for-chattanooga-vw-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/ig-metall-warns-against-yellow-union-for-chattanooga-vw-plant/#comments Thu, 06 Mar 2014 13:12:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=766121 IG Metall

While Volkswagen works to find a way to establish a works council at their Chattanooga, Tenn. plant in the wake of the failed United Auto Workers election and subsequent appeal to the National Labor Relations Board, German union IG Metall is warning against the establishment of what it calls a “yellow” union at the plant, or one that has been established by Volkswagen.

Just-Auto reports IG Metall international department director Horst Mund, though disappointed with the outcome of the UAW election, believes the only way to a works council is through unionization, while also warning against any diluted form of representation at the plant:

From my talks and contacts with unions in the US, I can tell there is scepticism against house unions. We have seen attempts throughout the world [when] yellow unions are installed. I am not saying Volkswagen is anywhere near contemplating this – on the contrary they are definitely not.

Regarding the UAW appeal, Mund says the fight “was never fair,” citing the outside interference alleged by the union in their appeal as the cause of their defeat, and supports the union’s appeal. He also found the entire controversy around the election absurd, especially with its “life [and] death” tone:

This is not about life and death. It is about simple choice.

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Volkswagen Mum On Alleged Expansion Of U.S. Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volkswagen-mum-on-alleged-expansion-of-u-s-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/volkswagen-mum-on-alleged-expansion-of-u-s-plant/#comments Mon, 03 Mar 2014 15:30:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=760105 Volkswagen CrossBlue Concept SUV

Though United States Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee claimed Volkswagen would announce an expansion of the plant in his native Chattanooga — slated to build a midsize SUV based on the CrossBlue Concept from this year’s Detroit Auto Show — if the workers rejected the United Auto Workers in last month’s attempt to organise the plant, the German automaker has remained silent as of this weekend.

The Detroit Free Press reports Corker believes the delay is the result of an appeal made by the UAW to the National Labor Relations Board, citing the senator’s comments and those of outside anti-union interests as the chief causes in the election’s failure. He also dismissed the idea VW would decide to build the new SUV in either Tennessee or Mexico no matter the election’s outcome:

There is no way I’d put out a statement like I put out unless I was 1,000% that it was accurate in every way.

Meanwhile, VW is moving forward with a plan to install a works council in the Tennessee plant, though where the automaker may build its next U.S. plant depends on the success of the campaign. VW Global Works Council head Bernd Osterloh warned that the “massive antiunion atmosphere” surrounding Chattanooga could prompt the company to take their ball out of the South should future expansion be considered.

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Corker: Labor Board Should Not Silence Lawmakers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/corker-labor-board-should-not-silence-lawmakers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/corker-labor-board-should-not-silence-lawmakers/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 15:45:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=757161 Senator Bob Corker

Former Chattanooga, Tenn. mayor and current United States Senator Bob Corker urged the National Labor Relations Board not to silence him or fellow lawmakers opposed to unionization as the NLRB considers an appeal by the United Auto Workers over the results of the three-day election recently held at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga.

Reuters reports Sen. Corker issued a statement during the election, where conversations led him to believe that if the workers rejected UAW representation, then VW would build a new midsize SUV in his state. He adds that when Democrat politicians voiced support for unions in the past, the NLRB ruled they properly expressed their free speech rights, a ruling Corker hopes will run for the opposition, as well:

I hope that the NLRB will understand and realize the magnitude of what they are going to be deciding and in no way will try to muzzle public officials who are community leaders from expressing their point of view.

Corker said he spoke out against the UAW in order to counteract misinformation about the SUV’s arrival being tied to the plant’s unionization, an allegation the union denies making while consistently stating the vote would not affect where the SUV would ultimately be produced.

Though mum on where his information regarding the rejection originated, Corker stood firm on his criticism of the UAW and its main reason for showing up in his state in the first place:

I think it was very apparent the UAW was in Chattanooga for one reason – dollars.

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VW Chattanooga Workers File Against UAW Recount http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/vw-chattanooga-workers-file-against-uaw-recount/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/vw-chattanooga-workers-file-against-uaw-recount/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 21:52:46 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=755345 volkswagen-chattanooga-solar-park-08

Five workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant have filed a petition with the National Labor Relations Board against the United Auto Workers’ challenge to invalidate the outcome from this month’s three-day election, which saw the union fail to win the right to represent the plant’s workers in a close fight.

Automotive News reports the quintet are aided by attorneys for anti-union organization National Right to Work Foundation, who believe if the NRLB doesn’t hear the workers, then no one might be able to resist the UAW, a belief NRWF President Mark Mix further explained in a statement regarding the petition:

Based on Volkswagen management’s actions leading up to this point, these workers are concerned that VW will not actively defend their vote to remain free from union boss control. That’s why these workers have filed a motion to intervene.

Meanwhile, the UAW’s argument for their filing is based upon alleged interference from anti-union forces, such as United States Senator Bob Corker, who said if workers voted against the union, the plant would find new funding to expand around a new midsize SUV set to be built in 2016. If allowed to stand, however, the results would be a major setback for the union in their battle to organize the South’s automotive industry.

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UAW Money Woes Worry Detroit Three http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-money-woes-worry-detroit-three/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-money-woes-worry-detroit-three/#comments Wed, 26 Feb 2014 12:30:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=754881 Bob King

With declining membership and fees paired with a defeat in a close election recently held at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., the Detroit Three fear the United Auto Workers not only have no future, but their replacement would bring back the days of turmoil settled over a decade before.

The Detroit Free Press reports the three Detroit automakers worry the UAW could be absorbed by another, more hostile union not as willing to keep labor costs competitive with overseas competitors, as well disrupting the brokered peace which set lower wages for new hires and health care concessions that brought United States production costs on parity with Japan.

Meanwhile, the UAW continues to weaken, as annual dues fell by 40 percent to $115 million over the period between 2006 and 2012 with membership falling by 30 percent to 382,000 in the same period, having peaked at 1.5 million members in 1979. The union’s assets totaled $1 billion in 2012, making the UAW the wealthiest union the U.S., though $300 million in assets were liquidated in the six-year period to pay operating expenses while spending was cut 15 percent; $47 million in assets were sold in the last year alone to balance the union’s budget. Further, with lower wages from new workers unable to fill the coffers fast enough to make up the difference, the UAW may raise dues for the first time in 47 years.

In UAW president Bob King’s view, the union has no future without an organized South, where transplants such as VW and BMW have expanded in the region over the past decade as more and more factories in and around Detroit closed. King’s potential successor, secretary-treasurer Dennis Williams, has vowed to fight on, from higher wages for new hires to more organization battles in the South; the UAW recently filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board over the outcome of the Volkswagen vote.

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VW Labor Leaders Fight To Establish U.S. Works Council http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/vw-labor-leaders-fight-to-establish-u-s-works-council/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/vw-labor-leaders-fight-to-establish-u-s-works-council/#comments Tue, 25 Feb 2014 15:30:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=753737 2012-volkswagen-passat-front-three-quarters-chattanooga

While the United Auto Workers take their battle to bring their brand of organization to Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. before the National Labor Relations Board, VW’s labor leaders are regrouping in their fight to establish a works council in the U.S. plant.

Automotive News reports two top officials from VW’s global works council, secretary generals Gunnar Kilian and Frank Patta, are in the United States for the next two weeks consulting with labor law experts as to what steps will need to be taken to establish a works council at the automaker’s Tennessee plant, an idea popular with a number of the plant’s workforce, especially those who voted to keep the UAW out of their floor during the three-day election held two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, UAW supporters believe a U.S. works council would need the legal force of a union contract for a council to work at all. A few options would include talking with a different union, moving forward without a union, or — as both U.S. Senator and former mayor of Chattanooga Bob Corker and American University professor Steve Silvia have suggested — establishing their own union.

Whatever the decision, future expansion into the U.S. market depends on a positive outcome; VW works council chairman Bernd Osterloh told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung that labor leadership would “hardly be able to vote in favor” of expansion by VW executives so long as Chattanooga remains unorganized.

Finally, the UAW has also vowed to fight for organization of the plant, filing a 58-page brief with the NLRB last weekend citing outside interference as reasoning for holding a new election. Dennis Williams, possible successor to the presidency of the UAW when outgoing president Bob King steps down in June, may have to wait a year before attempting to organize the plant again, but he doesn’t mind:

We’re not leaving Chattanooga. It took seven years to organize Ford, and I will be around for at least another five.

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QOTD: How Can the UAW’s Damaged Brand be Fixed? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/qotd-how-can-the-uaws-damaged-brand-be-fixed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/qotd-how-can-the-uaws-damaged-brand-be-fixed/#comments Sun, 23 Feb 2014 14:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=752201

Click here to view the embedded video.

We talk a lot about brands here at TTAC. For example, Porsche comes in for a bit of criticism for moving away from their image as a maker of purist sports cars. We’ve discussed how brands can be burnished and also be diminished. Do today’s Cadillacs live up to “the standard of the world” and is the Lincoln Motor Company a dead brand walking? Back when GM was busy melting down financially and the future of brands like Pontiac were uncertain, I even checked with a businessman who specialized in bringing back old brands, to see how he would go about reviving GM’s distressed brands. Even a badly damaged brand can be revived. Which brings me to today’s topic, is the UAW’s brand damaged and if so, how can it be fixed?

I ask that not just because the autoworkers’ labor union lost an important certification vote at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga, TN assembly plant. You can see negative attitudes towards the UAW by consumers as well, people insisting one reason why they won’t buy a car from the three domestic American car companies is because they question the quality of cars built in UAW shops. Sure, some of the negativity comes from general anti-union attitudes, but I think the UAW would be well served to pay attention to the possibility that their brand is indeed considered damaged by both consumers and potential UAW members, and to consider what the union can do to restore some luster to its brand. Denying that the UAW brand is damaged, or saying that it’s all the fault of anti-union activity is akin to a line worker at GM’s Detroit Hamtramck Assembly Plant whistling Solidarity Forever as he strolls past the folks resting forever at Beth Olem.

One of the more common comments following the UAW’s failing to win the vote at VW was that workers there weren’t rejecting the idea of a union so much as they were rejecting a specific union, the UAW. Certainly a factor in the vote was the involvement of outside groups, like the one headed by Grover Norquist, that bought billboard space in Chattanooga targeting VW employees. Those billboards didn’t really address ideological issues surrounding the labor movement, they attacked the UAW. Those billboards wouldn’t have gotten traction with VW employees if the UAW’s image with those workers was pristine.

My own position on the UAW is that while I have my criticisms, a measurable percentage of the things that I see attacking the UAW are unfair. For example, calling the union “communist” is just silly in light of the history of Walter Reuther fighting hard to keep communist influence out of his union. I’m a small L libertarian and I have my differences with the labor movement but I think that the U.S. Constitution, which protects freedom of association and contract rights, provides a sound basis for saying that Americans have the right to form labor unions and try to negotiate collectively, at least in the private sector. This, however, is not about my political or ideological stances, it’s about consumers and workers looking at the union label and saying, “no, thanks”.

Part of the UAW’s brand image problem is tied to “Detroit”, the city and the industry. At the same time that “Detroit” evokes a symphony of images and feelings, many of which are not exactly warm and fuzzy, there are at least a couple of examples of Detroit brands being turned around. While it still has a long row to hoe, Cadillac today is a much more respected brand than it was in the late 1990s, and under Alan Mulally’s leadership Ford has gained a great deal of credibility with consumers and industry observers alike. If those companies’ brands can go from not even being on consumers’ short lists to now being found on their driveways, there’s no reason why the UAW can’t improve its image.

So if you were Dennis Williams, who is slated to replace Bob King as president of the UAW, what would you do to improve the UAW’s brand?

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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UAW Files Rejection Of Chattanooga Election Results http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-files-rejection-of-chattanooga-election-results/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-files-rejection-of-chattanooga-election-results/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 21:49:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=751521 092112_WEB_a_VW_Sign_t618

The United Auto Workers union has filed an appeal this day with the National Labor Relations Board over the results of the three-day organization election at Volkwagen AG’s Chattanooga, Tenn. plant held last week, citing outside intimidation from anti-union groups and individuals.

In the 58-page filing, the UAW goes into detail over the anti-unionization campaign, including references to United States Senator and former Chattanooga mayor Bob Corker’s threat/promise over Volkswagen’s plan to build their BlueMotion Concept-based mid-size SUV in 2016.

Union president Bob King reaffirmed the union’s commitment to organizing the VW plant in the filing, while also having this to say about the anti-union forces who campaigned against the workers’ right to join the UAW:

It’s an outrage that politically motivated third parties threatened the economic future of this facility and the opportunity for workers to create a successful operating model that that would grow jobs in Tennessee. It is extraordinary interference in the private decision of workers to have a U.S. senator, a governor and leaders of the state legislature threaten the company with the denial of economic incentives and workers with a loss of product.

The NLRB will now investigate the results for potential interference. If found in the UAW’s favor, the board will throw out the results and hold a new election at the plant.

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Haley, Norquist Vow To Block Organized Labor From The South http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/haley-norquist-vow-to-block-organized-labor-from-the-south/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/haley-norquist-vow-to-block-organized-labor-from-the-south/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 18:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=750929 Nikki Haley

Days after the United Auto Workers found themselves outside the gate at the Volkswagen plant in Chatanooga, Tenn., South Carolina governor Nikki Haley and Republican lobbyist Grover Norquist have vowed to do all they can to ensure that the Southeastern United States will never see unionization in the region’s auto industry and beyond.

The Greenville News and Reuters report Norquist outlined an anti-union strategy meant to empower fellow Republicans, such as Gov. Haley, in their ongoing war with unions with the ultimate outcome resulting in lowered campaign financing for their opponents running for office.

His group, the Center for Worker Freedom, battled the UAW’s efforts to unionize the VW plant in Tennessee for nearly a year before finding victory in the worker’s rejection of representation during the National Labor Relations Board-overseen three-day election last week. In turn, Norquist is directing the group toward other targets for unionization throughout the South using rhetoric — and funding from unknown sources — to drive the point home:

Everybody who wants to steal your guns is funded by the unions. Everybody who wants to raise your taxes is funded by the unions. Everybody who wants to borrow too much money is funded by the unions. Whatever center-right issue you care about, the unions are on the other team. Unions aren’t good at anything.”

Meanwhile, Gov. Haley’s goal for labor relations in South Carolina is to head off the unionization drive at the pass, shutting out companies with organized labor as well as those who would “taint the water” with organization for as long as she remains governor:

They’re coming into South Carolina. They’re trying. We’re hearing it. The good news is it’s not working.

You’ve heard me say many times I wear heels. It’s not for a fashion statement. It’s because we’re kicking them every day, and we’ll continue to kick them.

Haley’s statement reflects a battle between her state and the NLRB in 2009 over Boeing’s desire to build a factory for the aerospace company’s Dreamliner in North Charleston, which the NLRB believed was done in retaliation over past union-led strikes in the company’s native state of Washington; the complaint was later dropped.

South Carolina is home to non-union transplants, including BMW, Michelin and Boeing, though Haley’s Democratic opponent in this year’s gubernatorial race, State Senator Vincent Sheheen, would welcome companies such as Ford and General Motors — and their organized labor — if it meant more jobs for the state:

We need good, high-paying jobs in South Carolina. Part of leadership is putting ideology and partisanship to the side when there’s something that could be good for South Carolina.

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UAW, VW Works Council Regrouping Under Voting Fallout http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-vw-works-council-regrouping-under-voting-fallout/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-vw-works-council-regrouping-under-voting-fallout/#comments Mon, 17 Feb 2014 11:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=742985 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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QOTD: UAW Vote At Chattanooga Ends Tonight, What’s Your Prediction? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/qotd-uaw-vote-at-chattnooga-ends-tonight-whats-your-prediction/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/qotd-uaw-vote-at-chattnooga-ends-tonight-whats-your-prediction/#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2014 17:26:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=741705 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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UAW VW Road Map Guiding March To Mercedes-Benz http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-vw-road-map-guiding-march-to-mercedes-benz/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/uaw-vw-road-map-guiding-march-to-mercedes-benz/#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2014 13:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=741377 MBUSI

Following the same road map that led to the ongoing organization efforts at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., the United Auto Workers have allied with German union IG Metall and Daimler’s works council on their march toward Mercedes-Benz’s MBUSI plant in Vance, Ala.

Reuters reports the UAW are doing card checks and distributing propaganda at MBUSI with help from the two German organizing bodies in the former’s ongoing march to unionize the South; other efforts include those at two Nissan plants in Tennessee and Mississippi.

Furthermore, the UAW has gone after Daimler via the National Labor Relations Board over allegations of interference and intimidation of MBUSI workers in exercising their right to organize; the hearing is scheduled for April 7.

Leading the Southern march, UAW regional director Gary Casteel explained how the union was paying attention to globalization and its effect on workers’ rights:

“The companies globalized a long time ago, and workers’ rights didn’t follow suit. It’s time that the workers’ rights caught up, and that’s the reason you see all the interaction between international unions and a global strategy.”

Said interaction comes as the result of the UAW gaining representation with Daimler’s World Employee Committee, whose role is to “strengthen and deepen the dialogue and information transfer between the various employee representatives and unions” according to Daimler in a statement.

While union leaders on both sides of the Atlantic want to see representation at MBUSI, not all of the plant’s 3,000 workers are on board. Elizabeth Kelly, who works as a team leader in quality control during the plant’s overnight shift and is opposed to the UAW, sees no link being what the union is doing with VW and Mercedes:

“The UAW supporters believe that if a union is voted in in Chattanooga, it will help their cause here. I tend to believe that it doesn’t really affect us one way or the other. It’s two totally different companies.”

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Tennessee Lawmakers Threatening To Kill Subsidies If UAW Wins VW Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tennessee-lawmakers-threatening-to-kill-subsidies-if-uaw-wins-vw-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tennessee-lawmakers-threatening-to-kill-subsidies-if-uaw-wins-vw-plant/#comments Tue, 11 Feb 2014 16:40:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=739385 092112_WEB_a_VW_Sign_t618

Should the United Auto Workers win the upcoming election to represent workers at Volkswagen’s Chatanooga, Tenn. plant, the automaker may find itself shunned by state lawmakers as far as further subsidies are concerned.

Volkswagen is seeking a new site this year to build their CrossBlue-based mid-size SUV in 2016, wooing both powers that be in Tennessee and Mexico for subsidies. However, Republicans in the Tennessee state legislature are threatening to back down on $580 million in state and local incentives the government offered to the automaker in 2008.

Tennessee House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and state senator Bo Watson both said VW would have “a very tough time” attracting anymore tax dollars from the coffers should the UAW win representation, and while they were happy to have the automaker in their backyard, it didn’t mean they were ever given a “green light” to force unionization into the plant. They also criticized VW for giving union supporters an unfair advantage against anti-unionization lobbyists, a charge the automaker denied in a statement supporting the workers’ right to be approached by union supporters and opponents prior to the upcoming election.

Furthermore, VW also stated they would have recognized the UAW through a card check in lieu of an election, but insisted on the workers voting for representation to reflect the automaker’s belief that “democracy is an American ideal,” according to vice president of human resources Sebastian Patta.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Governor Bill Haslam warned that the legislature would play a huge role in approving incentives to help fund the project — being too large for the state’s FastTrack incentive program as it is — and that the impact of UAW representation would affect the state’s ability to recruit other companies to the state.

Longtime UAW critic United States Senator Bob Corker originally remained mum on the upcoming vote, but after the union’s regional director Gary Casteel offered his praise of Corker’s statement by prompting other politicians to do the same in respect of the upcoming vote, the former mayor of Chattanooga felt the union was attempting to stifle other voices from commenting on the issue before stating that he would “return home [to] ensure [his] position was clear”: that the UAW would make VW “the laughingstock” of the automotive industry. Casteel fired back, calling Sen. Corker a flip-flopper prone to being swayed by special interests before restating his belief that UAW representation at the plant would improve the quality of life for both workers in the VW plant and everyone in Chattanooga.

Other critics weighed in on the election, such as the group called Southern Momentum, who quoted a factory worker leading the anti-unionization coalition at the plant as saying, “A vote for the UAW is a vote against the expansion of the plant, plain and simple.”

The election will take place from Wednesday to Friday of this week under supervision by the National Labor Relations Board. Around 1,500 workers will be eligible to vote during the three-day period.

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UAW: Majority of Workers at Tenn. VW Plant Have Signed Union Cards http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/uaw-majority-of-workers-at-tenn-vw-plant-have-signed-union-cards/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/09/uaw-majority-of-workers-at-tenn-vw-plant-have-signed-union-cards/#comments Fri, 13 Sep 2013 13:33:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=517177 Volkswagen-Chattanooga-Plant-500x333

Reuters is reporting that in an interview with the German Handelsblatt newspaper, United Auto Workers president Bob King said that a majority of workers at Volkswagen’s assembly plant in Chattanooga,Tennessee have signed cards supporting the UAW in the creation of a German-style works council at the factory. “Yes, we have a majority,” UAW President Bob King said.

 

The UAW leader said that more than 50% of the 2,415 employees at the factory have signed union cards and registered as future union members. Volkswagen declined to comment but the VW board member in charge of human relations, Horst Neumann, told Reuters at a panel discussion in Germany that included automobile executives and labor leaders, “I find it very depressing how deeply divided the [United States] is on the issue of labor unions. Had they been here to listen to the roundtable discussion they would have seen that we work together — it’s a model for success,” said Neumann, who represents the IG Metall labor union on VW’s board of directors.

UAW’s regional director for the UAW responsible for Tennessee, Gary Casteel, told the Associated Press that the signed cards include a statement about wanting to join VW’s global works council and supporting cooperative and collaborative relations with the company, and that according to U.S. labor law they are as legally binding as a ballot election. The company does have to recognize the signed cards, but they do have the option of recognizing the union or asking for a secret ballot election for the employees.

If the UAW is certified at the VW plant, it would be the first automotive “transplant” in the southern United States to have union representation. Foreign companies have opened many of their U.S. facilities in the South. Mitsubishi Motors Corp. does operate a plant in Normal, Ill., that is represented by the UAW. That’s currently the only foreign owned car factory in the U.S. with UAW representation.

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What Is The UAW Doing In Geneva? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/what-is-the-uaw-doing-in-geneva/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/what-is-the-uaw-doing-in-geneva/#comments Wed, 06 Mar 2013 17:52:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=480366

The UAW is stepping up their organization efforts at Nissan’s Canton, Mississippi plant by taking their campaign to…Geneva?

Automotive News took a look at the UAW’s bizarre effort at flying Nissan workers from Canton, along with members of the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN), which is apparently “…an organization representing clergy, elected officials, civil rights activists and students”, to help hand out leaflets and raise awareness about the efforts to bring collective bargaining to Canton.

Rather than brand the campaign as simply a UAW organizing drive, MAFFAN is engaging in some serious hyperbole, with MAFFAN member Reverend Melvin Chapman describing the campaign as

 ”…the civil rights fight of our time – the right to have a free and fair election process, one without fear. We are bringing Mississippi to Geneva to let Nissan know that what is happening in Mississippi is unacceptable.”

Aside from the myriad causes that one could conceivably argue as being “the civil rights fight of our time”, depending on one’s political leanings, the UAW’s attempts to organize Canton are ultimately a local issue, particular to American labor relations. Yet the UAW decided to spend what must be an excessive sum (and I know this having gone to Geneva to cover the Auto Show in the past. Bertel and others who have gone can also vouch for this) to send UAW staffers, union organizers and “…a small number of Canton, Miss. employees…” to Geneva to engage in a protest that is inconsequential to nearly everyone attending the show. Meanwhile, the cost of flights (expensive), hotels (insanely expensive, if one can even be found), meals (a cup of coffee will run $7-$8 alone), rental cars and any other expenses incurred will undoubtedly add up to a hefty bill.

This may not be the last of it either. According to AN the Geneva protest “…underscored how the union intends to hound Nissan at international venues…”, suggesting that jet-set junkets under the guise of social justice campaigns may be the new normal for the UAW and their allies. Then again neither is it UAW President Bob King’s first foray into silly publicity stunts or international labor matters. I can’t imagine that many UAW members are too thrilled about where their dues are going, nor is a world tour for King and his cronies a great recruiting tool to organize transplant employees.

But as one of TTAC’s chief union sources has long maintained, the union leaders are ultimately politicians. And we all know that profligacy, entitlement and indulgence come with that territory.

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