Do Or Die: UAW's Hail Mary Pass Through The South

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
do or die uaw s hail mary pass through the south

A good month after our trek to the South where we checked on the (un-) willingness of transplant workers to join the UAW, the hard-hitting team at the Reuters Detroit bureau did the same. In a special report, Reuters comes to the same conclusion as we did: It won’t be easy. Bernie Woodall and Ben Klayman of Reuters did more thorough digging. And they unearthed the secret strategy of the UAW: With the help of the German metalworkers union, they want to talk themselves into Volkswagen and Daimler:

“By appealing to German unions for help and by calling on the companies to do the right thing, King hopes to get VW and Daimler to surrender without a fight and let the union make its case directly to workers.”

If that strategy won’t work, and it is highly unlikely that it will, it could be the end of the UAW:

“It’s a battle the UAW cannot afford to lose. By failing to organize factories run by foreign automakers, the union has been a spectator to the only growth in the U.S. auto industry in the last 30 years. That failure to win new members has compounded a crunch on the UAW’s finances, forcing it to sell assets and dip into its strike fund to pay for its activities.”

The UAW will have a hard time convincing workers. Where the UAW reigns, it’s a killing field for jobs:

“Since 2001, the Detroit Three have slashed over 200,000 jobs, eliminating more than 60 percent of their hourly work force. In the same period, Japanese, South Korean and German automakers have opened eight assembly plants in the United States, creating almost 20,000 factory jobs.”

Money-wise, it does not make a lot of sense to join:

“Newly hired workers earn $14.50 an hour at VW in Chattanooga. That is just below the $14.78 that a new hire would make at a unionized GM plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. Adjusted for monthly dues at Spring Hill, the VW worker is behind by only about $15 per month.”

Hopes that the German unions will do the heavy lifting for the UAW likely are misplaced. “We will support the UAW, but we will not do the UAW’s work,” said Peter Donath, an IG Metall official. The German unions are interested in themselves. Of course, German makers with troubles in the U.S. could be discouraged to move more work to a unionized plant in the U.S. Wait, what’s wrong with that picture?

Please read the detailed report at Reuters. It will be an eye-opener.

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  • 4solidarity 4solidarity on Jan 08, 2012

    Les wrote: "Unfortunately the way the law works, as I understand it, they don’t. They have the right to join the already-established industry-wide union or go scab, if neither of those options is palatable to them they can’t form their own union or explore any other possible alternatives." RE: Actually the National Labor Relations Act guarantees the U.S. transplant workers with the right to form "any" type of labor organization. They can be an independent union, and don't have to affiliate with any existing international union. The point is that these U.S. workers have never earned the title of "scabs." And they should have a free, uncoerced choice of banding together with their fellow workers in forming their union. Ralph Lyke Upstate New York

    • Les Les on Jan 08, 2012

      Who said anything about international unions? You really believe the transplants can form their own union completely independent of the UAW and it'll just be sunshine and puppies for everybody?

  • 4solidarity 4solidarity on Jan 08, 2012

    Thornmark wrote: "Facts speak for themselves. Productivity is a measure of investment and output. No one doubts that the UAW works against gains in productivity." RE: On the contrary, UAW workers have always stressed increased productivity in order to bargain for higher pay, benefits and working conditions. Ralph Lyke Upstate New York

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.