UAW Backpedals On Chattanooga: "No Official Organizing Campaign" At Volkswagen
A while ago, the UAW started passing out signature cards at Volkswagen’s factory in Chattanooga, TN. It looks like most landed in the garbage can.
The UAW needs signatures from at least 30 percent of the workers before a representation election can go ahead. There is no information on how many (or how few) signatures the UAW received. However, Gary Casteel, director of the UAW’s District 8 says now that the UAW wasn’t serious. Casteel told The Tennessean:
“We have not started an official organizing campaign. What got some people up in arms is that we passed out some cards, but they were never about setting up an election. The cards were just gauging the level of support.”
The paper sees older workers at the Volkswagen plant as more supportive of the union than younger employees are. Says the Chattanooga paper:
“Some younger workers fear they could lose some of their current benefits if the union negotiates a contract with Volkswagen.”
Chances are pretty rotten for a union if workers fear that they get less after they sign. The workforce appeared pretty youthful when we had visited the plant last year.
The comments to the article in the Tennessean reflect the cautious mood in Chattanooga. “The UAW will only protect the drunks, drug addicted, lazy, thieves and those who are chronically absent,” says a Dennis Tucker. “Don’t do it. The UAW is a bunch of self-serving thugs and will be bad for the employees,” a Ron Brown asks.
Link to The Tennessean article referenced: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120402/BUSINESS03/304020005/UAW-wants-Volkswagen-workers-seek-union-election?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Business|p
If VW infects the South by becoming the first union car plant here, I'll never buy another VW. VW fan here; own a V8 and a W12. I don't care if my VWs were built by union workers in Europe; VW and its unions are welcome to wreck their own economies over there. Just don't come and screw up ours.
It's not as if autoworkers in the US are underpaid, abused or forced to work in unsafe environments! With all the regulation and mandates laid down by the federal government there is very little that any union can do for its members. If the UAW had set a better precedent prior to 2009, maybe two of its employers would not have had to declare bankruptcy. As it is, that stigma will hang over the prospect of unionizing or organizing any non-union shop well into the distant future. Why unionize and have the union collectively bargain you out of your job and force your employer to declare bankruptcy? That's biting the hand that feeds you.
In "The Machine That Changed the World" the authors show how unions retard quality initiatives by protecting the craftsman mentality. Kaizen and continuous improvement efforts are hampered if companies can't constantly re-engineer the lines and re-define jobs. Unions inherently drag this process. In the 70s and 80s, this is what kept quality down in European manufacturers. Workers did not accept changes to their duties. These craftsmen did too much work at their stations. Measurement was very difficult, and if you can't mesaure you can't manage. These days, continuous improvement is the last hope for labor in high-cost countries. If the managers can't ride the learning curve and constantly adjust, then efficiencies can't be gained. The reason why VW and other European cars were always such poor quality vs. the Japanese is fully explained in the book. It's an older book, but the images of giant "rework floors" where newly finished cars have their build issues reworked are very vivid. Best book on the auto industry, as far as I'm concerned.