By on May 30, 2019

If at first you don’t succeed…

Following a narrow loss in February 2014, the United Auto Workers hopes that a vote set for mid-June in Chattanooga will be the big break it’s been looking for. Besides wishing to represent the thousands of workers at Volkswagen’s sole U.S. assembly plant, the UAW desperately wants to make inroads among foreign automakers operating in the South that have so far resisted its overtures.

Despite agreeing to play nice in the lead-up to the vote, both sides accuse the other of dirty tactics.

After the UAW petitioned the National Labor Relations Board last month to set a date for the vote, Reuters reports that workers will sit down to decide their labor fate from June 12th to 14th.

VW’s Chattanooga plant, which opened in 2011, employs about 1,700 workers. Its future looks bright, with the automaker planning to expand production and swell its workforce ranks with new internal combustion and electric vehicle models. The first EV should roll out of the plant in 2022.

The 2014 vote came close to securing the UAW a win. Ultimately, workers voted 712 to 626 to stay a non-union shop.

Volkswagen’s official position on the issue is a neutral one, though labor activists claim the company abandoned its neutrality by issuing a letter to employees last month. In it, the automaker reportedly claimed workers could achieve more through “open dialogue” than through a union. Earlier this month, VW won in its bid to delay the vote, citing the need to challenge a smaller UAW bargaining unit at the facility.

In 2015, a group of 160 skilled trade maintenance workers voted to unionize. In turn, VW said it wouldn’t bargain with the UAW-represented group unless their unit also contained production workers.

As laid out by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, both sides in the UAW-VW battle are throwing rocks, albeit not directly. Two groups — the Center for Union Facts and the Center for VW Facts — have taken out ads against each other. The pro-union group is a fan of referencing VW’s diesel emissions scandal as proof of the company’s “culture of corruption,” while the anti-union group points to UAW’s own corruption scandal, claiming the union’s executives use members’ dues for personal gain.

[Image: Volkswagen]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

32 Comments on “U.S. Volkswagen Workers Take Another Stab at Unionization...”


  • avatar
    mason

    The UAW. Doing for Chattanooga what it did for Detroit.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Trying to do to Chattanooga… They haven’t succeeded yet. I’m not a fan, personally, and I was a union member long ago… before the union drove my job and that of thousands of fellow workers overseas.

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        The last vote failed by a razors edge. I sure hope for the people of Chattanooga they don’t feel like they are being “short changed” by VW for doing a job that in all honesty any healthy motivated individual can do (which is why the big 3 have gone overseas). As a near life long iron head I too have first hand experience as to the lies a union rep can and will tell to get their foot in the door. I’ve witnessed it in multiple places – iron workers, boilermakers, chemical workers to name a few. Nothing but deceit and bigotry.

  • avatar
    ToddAtlasF1

    VW is looking to reduce costs(spelled capacity in this environment) so they can afford to sell EVs to the chosen. The UAW could be cutting its own throat by conscripting VW’s US workers just before VW pulls up sticks. Nobody will ever be stupid enough to join the UAW again.

  • avatar
    EGSE

    Accusing local VW management of having a “culture of corruption” isn’t any way to win their hearts and minds. On the other hand, alleging that the UAW are parasites that are only out for themselves is stating the obvious. They know of no other way to operate. Another scavenger in search of a new host to feed off of.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    Between UAW and VW, it’s a race to the bottom to know who would play dirtier.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    What’s wrong with simply quitting if you don’t like your job, like, you know, 80% of us regular schlubs are expected to do?

  • avatar
    mason

    jkross22, The difference is VW is actually a productive entity, they make a product, put food on people’s tables, and support an economy. The UAW leach simply sucks the life out of all of the above until there is nothing left.

    Sorry to say for all the union nut huggers but we are a first world country and at the top of the food chain. Don’t like your wages? Benefits? Go start your own business and see how life is like in the real world. Get some skin in the game. Ask a Small business owner what his premium is, and his deductable on top of that. Or how much vacation he accrues. Or how many years – READ – sleepless nights – he has to put in before he gets a raise.

    Chattanooga better wake up or they will create a wasteland just like Detroit.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The biggest enemy of unions today is the internet and the free flow of information, labor protection laws, and OSHA.

    With few exceptions, companies can no longer bully their employees, force them to work in unsafe conditions, make them work for below market rates, and cover up their abuses. Today, it is very hard for a company engage in such behavior on a sustained basis, although violations do occur.

    In its sales pitch to the Chattanooga workers, the UAW must play up the supposed abuses, and *convince* the workers they are being mistreated. But the transplants have learned to avoid these abuses, and therefore most of the workers are happy enough.

    Job security can’t possibly be a selling point, because that’s laughable. Negotiating decent exit terms for downsized workers would be a benefit, but that’s about all I can think of.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Except public sector workers. For some reason it’s acceptable to beat down public sector workers.

      • 0 avatar
        EGSE

        @brn How so? Are there shortages of people to fill those positions?

      • 0 avatar
        MBella

        That’s hilarious. Please find me one public sector worker who is not grossly overpaid, especially when you add in their benefits.

        • 0 avatar
          Vulpine

          I don’t know about overpaid but they’re certainly not overworked unless the community hasn’t been doing its due diligence to maintain the infrastructure. If they’re overworked its because they’re having to fix things that were installed cheaply to begin with.

        • 0 avatar

          Traditionally, the public worker made the tradeoff “boring job with no corner office” but with “benefits”. It was only after corporate American decided The Company Man should become a 1099 Uber driver that the relative position of the Civil Servant went from “no motivation go and get along” to “leech”.

          I’ve managed to avoid any big company employment my whole career. While I’ve missed the iron rice bowl aspects, keeping what you kill is a better deal overall if you accept scarcity as part of the universe. A Union is a necessary counterweight to the tender mercy of a corporation. Both suck, but they cancel each other out.

          • 0 avatar
            Arthur Dailey

            @Speedlaw: I have been a public sector worker and an employer (with over 1,000 employees). I have helped to certify/organize workers, and have helped to ‘break’ unions. I have even written about industrial relations.

            And I could not have improved on one thing that you posted.

      • 0 avatar
        ToddAtlasF1

        Wow. In a world of ignorance, worrying about public sector workers still manages to shock. I don’t care about private sector unions. Hell, I’ve been a member of one. I’ve managed workers who were members of two including the one whose card I once carried. I’ve broken a third. Public sector unions are symptomatic of a civilization in its death-throws. They are closed loop corruption between some of the most evil people in history.

      • 0 avatar
        civicjohn

        @brn, except most of those “public sector workers”/are unionized as well. Give me a break.

        • 0 avatar
          brn

          You are all proving my point. You’re beating down public sector workers. Most of whom are paid less than the private sector and do the job because they believe in the service they provide.

          civicjohn, you are correct. Most of them are unionized because they have to be. If your employee (the public) hates you, wants you paid less, wants you to work more, wants you to have fewer benefits, thinks you’re useless, then you need more representation.

          • 0 avatar
            brn

            employee -> employer.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            As I said, find me one direct example where the public sector worker is paid less. Same work, including benefits, per same hours worked. I’m waiting.

          • 0 avatar
            ToddAtlasF1

            I live in Virginia Beach. Yesterday there was a shooting in a VB city office building. Because of this, I learned that one of my Ocracoke trip buddies is a VB city employee who works one floor down from the shooting. He heard the first shots and fled. I though he was some sort of Navy contractor, because I’m used to contractors being richer than entrepreneurs. It turns out that working for a city with roads worse than you can imagine and an unreported violent crime problem is the source of his antebellum mansion in Norfolk and beach house in Nags Head that is empty most of the time. He has no need to rent it. I used to live with a girl who parroted her teachers’ union’s rhetoric, so I know where this sense of entitlement comes from. Just don’t expect a drop of respect from anyone with even a tenuous attachment to reality.

          • 0 avatar
            brn

            MBella, any professional job. Any of them. IT workers, attorneys, scientists, engineers etc. Then you can get into agency leadership. $400K in the private sector. $110 in the public sector.

            It’s pretty darn easy to find examples.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            You’re comparing salaries alone. Add benefits, and hours, and it starts to be a very different beast. Look at sgeffe’s example below. Of course the public workers would like to keep all their benefits of working for government, but have the same pay as the private worker. The example below show’s the many difference. You can’t compare a contract employee making $400k but without any benefits and is on call all the time with someone who has a set schedule with a huge amount of benefits.

          • 0 avatar
            brn

            Mbella, I’m not talking about contract workers. I’m not talking about salary alone. Professionals, even with benefits added, get paid substantially less than private sector professionals. Also, let’s not forget that benefits for professionals in similarly sized organizations get similar benefits.

            You asked one example. You got several. I even went into detail on one below. Sgeffe also went into detail. I’m sorry if they go against the stereotype.

        • 0 avatar
          sgeffe

          I’ve been a Systems Analyst at a County IT shop in the Toledo, OH area for the past 25.5 years.

          The pay is probably a third of what I’d make private sector. Benefits are better: lots of paid vacation and sick time, and very good health insurance, along with a reasonably well-run state pension system which is self-sustaining, so there’s no huge unfunded liability for the people of Ohio. So that offsets the lower pay somewhat. Another benefit, at least for public sector IT, is that unlike the private sector, you can work normal hours and not be on-call the rest of the time. Your time away is yours, mostly. (This is what attracted my “anti-Millennial Millennial” boss to my organization: the ability to be able to be a family man outside of work, without having to run in during one of his daughter’s birthday parties, Christmas morning, or Thanksgiving Day, because a server went down, and to not be expected to have to grind out 50-hour weeks while AT work.)

          There are downsides, of course, namely people who don’t pull their weight, as you might expect, within and outside of the IT organization; to that end, a ne’er-do-well networking/hardware technician in my department, as a favor to his late brother who at the time was a big muckety-muck in the IBEW (and who had successfully organized his fellow technicians several years before when they thought there was a chance they’d be outsourced to a local firm specializing in their work), managed to organize the programming staff under cover of darkness (as opposed to his efforts with his colleagues, where they had lengthy debate over the subject). As a result of this, there are a couple people in my department who have zero worth (almost as HUMAN BEINGS, much less productive workers), but can hang on without fear of punishment; our management’s hands are tied. (Before the decision by SCOTUS to eliminate mandatory closed-shop in the public-sector, I had around $10K siphoned from my pocket over the course of ten or so years.) My boss I mentioned above and myself, along with most other people in my department, will accomplish more before 11:00 tomorrow morning than these two goldbrickers will accomplish all week! But as I’ve learned, it’s the nature of the beast! Then you have to deal with clueless people at the top of the food chain who don’t want to hear what we’re telling them, and yet are more than willing to pass around blame when something happens that we had warned them about, but for which nothing happened to prevent the problem from happening! (Office politics in the offices of politicians? Not for the faint of heart!)

          But the biggest benefit is job security! Toledo, which sneezes when Detroit gets a cold, is subject to the same cyclical economy! You could have the best IT position in the world here, but if the companies buying your company’s widgets suddenly need to cut their costs or even go out of business, no matter how many of your kids’ parties you’ve missed, or holidays you’ve spent at your desk and away from your family when the system crashes at 7:30pm on New Year’s Eve, suddenly you could find a pink slip in your E-Mail one morning out of the blue, extra points if you will only get a decent severance and COBRA allowance if you first train Mr. Prednorihatham Phumblebuckiamyamyamyam, the H1-B who will be hired-in as your less-costly replacement, before you are escorted out the door! That’s a rarity in the subset of the field in which I work; if my department were outsourced, the jurisdiction for which I work would collapse upon itself in a couple of weeks, and there’d be citizens at the door with torches and pitchforks! Being able to sleep at night without constantly wondering if the gravy train will throw you off is probably the best benefit there is!

          • 0 avatar
            brn

            Like private sector work, every public sector job is different. sgeffe, I appreciate you telling us about yours. It’s not unusual.

            I’ve been working in IT since the mid 80’s. Most of it was in the private sector. Recently, in the public sector. 50 hour work weeks are typical. Because the systems we support are 24/7, 3am calls are a part of life. I’ve had periods where 100 hour work weeks were needed (slept at work for many days, thankfully we have showers and a kitchen). You just do it (much like the private sector), because it needs to be done. Never got paid more for it.

            It’s OK. I care about my contribution, as do my coworkers (as bright and dedicated as I’ve ever worked with).

            Good people are everywhere.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            We don’t have 24/7 life-or-death, thankfully, to support, @brn! Every day, I just go in, and give it my all! I was raised to accept nothing less from myself, and it’s paid dividends.

            Our 911 operation has their own IT staff, and I’m thankful that I’m not in that environment! I make a mistake where I’m at, and a report looks funky! I screw up there, people could die! I would have a hard time dealing with those consequences!


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • brn: Mbella, I’m not talking about contract workers. I’m not talking about salary alone. Professionals,...
  • johnls39: Regardless, the base V models will be fantastic cars for everyday use. 0-60 between the CT4/5-V should be...
  • EGSE: My friends truck was recalled for a problem with the cruise control which could lead to a fire even if not...
  • jack4x: As a Viper owner, I would legitimately fear a dual motor Tesla from a stoplight (not from a roll). The...
  • Art Vandelay: California also has known deposits

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States