February 15, 2014

"In a defeat for organized labor in the South, employees at the Volkswagen plant here voted 712 to 626 against joining the United Automobile Workers."

"The loss is an especially stinging blow for U.A.W. because Volkswagen did not even oppose the unionization drive. The union’s defeat... was one of the most closely watched unionization votes in decades...."

The NYT reports — without mentioning the comments President Obama made yesterday, behind closed doors, to Democratic lawmakers in Maryland:
Obama said everyone was in favor of the UAW representing Volkswagen except for local politicians who "are more concerned about German shareholders than American workers"....
ADDED: "This is like an alternate universe where everything is turned upside down"...
... said Cliff Hammond, a labor lawyer at Nemeth Law PC in Detroit, who represents management clients but previously worked at the Service Employees International Union. "Usually, companies fight" union drives, he added.... "This vote was essentially gift-wrapped for the union by Volkswagen"...

But more workers were persuaded to vote against the union by the UAW's past of bitter battles with management, costly labor contracts and complex work rules. "If the union comes in, we'll have a divided work force," said Cheryl Hawkins, 44, an assembly line worker with three sons. "It will ruin what we have."...

"I just don't trust them," said Danielle Brunner, 23, who has worked at the plant for nearly three years and makes about $20 an hour—about $5 an hour more than new hires at GM, Ford and Chrysler plants.

105 comments:

TML said...

I wonder why Obama doesn't care about the 20,000+ union workers who could be building the Keystone XL pipeline. Baffling.

TML said...

Another thing: What ostensible problems, gripes, complaints, unfairnesses, etc. was the UAW effort supposed to address? Is there a group of employees that's been complaining about treatment there for years? This seems 100% like an effort that was all about the UAW and not the workers it supposedly represents. Pathetic.

TML said...

Sorry, one more thing: It's awesome that antiquated and idiotic labor law makes the one thing that might be smart, a works council, illegal. Haha!

Joseph Blieu said...

These ill mannered bible clinging rubes won't share their pay checks with union management and thus with the Democratic Party treasury? I demand an executive order!

Lyle said...

Unions don't really care about workers since unionization leads to higher unemployment. And apparently the Americans in Tennessee don't want to become like the Americans in Michigan and Ohio.

Marty Keller said...

The rank paternalism of the union rent-seekers is quite noisome. The fact that their "services" did not match the workers' desires does not seem to cross their little minds; no, it's the fault of evil "politicians" who oppose unions in general. Poor America! We are rather far down the road of transitioning from being citizens to wards of the state. We must applaud and enjoy these occasion slaps back from the sans culottes.

Skeptical Voter said...

Over at Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds points out, correctly, that the UAW and President Obama have both become "toxic brands".

William said...

I've read somewhere that UAW pension costs add several thousand dollars to the cost of a new car....There's a kind of Catch 22 with unions. When they have enough power to put upward pressure on your wages, benefits, and pension, they generally have enough power to bankrupt your employer......Well, anyway the UAW has been around a long time and lots of people probably profited from its existence. Not this current generation or their parents though. They're screwed.

YoungHegelian said...

This isn't new.

Back in the mid 70's, the unions tried to organize the workers at the aluminum/copper tubing plant in northern Alabama where my father worked. One of the votes happened while I was working at the plant for a summer. I remember when management called all the workers for a meeting to discuss with them why they shouldn't go union, and it was easy to tell from the tenor of the crowd that management didn't have to push its point too hard. The workers already agreed.

The union would hand out leaflets to the cars as they drove off company property at shift change, but I don't know what other organizing efforts they made. No doubt there were off-site meetings I didn't know about.

When the union got defeated in the election, I asked my father why the union got defeated and he said "...because they know the only weapon the union really has is a strike & none of those guys can afford to be out two weeks or a month on a strike. They all live paycheck to paycheck." My father was a worker, not management, by the way, and he, too, voted against the union.

Mark said...

Didn't senator Corker claim that without the union VW would bring in another vehicle to the plant on Wednesday?

I expect the NLRB will have something to say about that.

Michael K said...

When I was in high school, I worked at a couple of jobs that required union membership. At one job it was the Teamsters. During this period, I attended a strike vote. I learned a lot even though I was only 17. The young unmarried guys all voted to strike. The older married guys with kids voted no.

I've never forgotten that experience and it was part of why I became a Republican in college. I voted for Nixon in 1960 and enraged my family who were all (then) Democrats. Plus, of course, cousin Jack.

Diogenes of Sinope said...

This is easy......Obama will take executive actions declaring unionization elections now only require 40 percent positive votes. He will then certify the UAW's victory in the Volkswagen vote and the workers will be members of the UAW. Easy.

YoungHegelian said...

I imagine that after this vote Volkswagen's management, being as German as it is, will be sitting around the table in Wolfsburg staring at each other until one of them voices the question on everyone's mind: "Why didn't the workers vote their class interest?

Which will be quickly followed by "Yee-ha! Let's adjourn to the Bier-garten!"

Diogenes of Sinope said...

This vote just begs for the video, "Hitler finds out about the Volkswagen union vote".

Richard Dolan said...

American unions need to reinvent themselves, in order to present a service that workers are willing to buy at a price they are willing to pay. The workers' comments highlighted in the post, particularly the woman who noted that entry-level workers at the VW plant are already earning more than newbies at unionized plants and the guy who said the union offered nothing they don't already have or can't get without the UAW, shows that workers see a lack of any value-added service from joining the union. There wasn't any comment about the price factor (union dues), but lots of comments about potential costs (the workers' perception that the UAW was a big contributor to Detroit's fall, for example). Of course, you don't focus on price if what is on offer seems more harmful than helpful.

When unions first started to flourish 80 years ago, it was easy to see the value-added service they offered. Their success over the next 50 years in helping to bring their unionized workers into the promised land of the great American Middle is now there undoing. The experience in Wisconsin where so many members of public sector unions are opting to drop membership, shows that it's not just the UAW that needs to reinvent itself. And when they do, I doubt very much that the new version of unionism will look anything like the current variety.

jr565 said...

To the union.
"It's all there, black and white,clear as crystal...
YOU GET NOTHING. YOU LOSE! GOOD DAY SIR!"

elkh1 said...

"...about $5 an hour more than new hires at GM, Ford and Chrysler plants."

They actually make lots more than $5 without the unions. They save their union dues, five hundred to a thousand a year. They save themselves from feeding their union bosses-parasites who make hundreds thousands a year, contribute millions to their political cronies. Best of all they save themselves from Obamacare marketplace, and their jobs from going to China.

jr565 said...

These workers get 20 bucks an hour despite having no union presence.

They don't want to mess with that to bring in agitation that will affect their bottom line negatively.


EDH said...

When does Obama start talking to portraits in the White House?

mccullough said...

Since union pension funds are invested in companies, this is good for the union since the pension funds at shareholders. Or does Obama think only Germans own stock in VW?

Anyway, shouldn't he be golfing instead of pontificating?

Freder Frederson said...

What ostensible problems, gripes, complaints, unfairnesses, etc. was the UAW effort supposed to address?

This is VW's only plant in the world without a works council. VW expressed a desire to set up a works council, but under U.S. labor law, that would require a union.

Hagar said...

and also on Obama's comment: Isn't there soime kind of VW North America shares traded on the NYSE?

This sort of thinking of cars built in Alabama. or wherever, as "foreign imports" is another sign of how stuck in old ways he is.

The G(overnment) M(otors) current "success" that he brags about is largely dependent on their plants in the People's Republic of China.
Is he going to go to China and urge the workers there to join the UAW?

Jim said...

If the GOP is smart, big if, they will reintroduce Nancy Landon Kassebaums TEAM act that Clinton vetoed in 1996 at the urging of unions. This would have facilitated the very labor management quality teams that the UAW professed to want.

Original Mike said...

47% is close enough for Obama's NLRB, isn't it?

Rusty said...

I've been on both sides.
I like being a free agent.

elkh1 said...

Diogenes of Sinope, Obama uses his pen to mandate workers in America must join a union, must contribute to turn the country into the Worker's Paradise. A paradise where the political class headed by him, his National Stasi of America (NSA) and his Intimidate-Revenge Stasi (IRS), will always be in charge.

gerry said...

garage was crowing about this election a couple of weeks ago.

What an ass.

Paco Wové said...

The NYT article paints it as essentially Republican meddling that cowed the workers out of voting for the union.

Zach said...

This big question this article raises to me is why German-style work councils aren't legal in the US. I know that there's some folk history in the labor movement to the effect that company unions are just shams propped up by management, but surely that's the sort of question that could be raised again 80 years after the passage of the Wagner Act.

I mean, look at Germany. They're a high wage country with a strong labor movement and, if anything, more regulation than the US. But they've got strong unions and a healthy manufacturing sector, and somehow we've got neither.

Imagine you're a 25 year old worker at the Volkswagen plant. You're open to unionization, but have reservations, too. Is the UAW really the union you want representing your interests for the next 40 years?

Brando said...

Hard to see how Big Labor can spin this, as there was no big bad company trying to trick the workers into voting against an organized labor utopia. But I'm sure they'll try!

Freder Frederson said...

as there was no big bad company trying to trick the workers into voting against an organized labor utopia.

No but Republicans in Tennessee were (led by Bob Corker who outright lied about VW's plans to increase production at the plant if the union was kept out).

Hagar said...

The industrial unions have gone from representing about 35% of the workers in this country in their heyday of the early '50's to about 5-6% today. The other union membership today is largely made up by the NEA/AFT ("it's for the children!") and AFSCME - both of which are something different than "the labor movement" - and then the SEIU/ACORN crowd, which also supplies the leadership today.

George Meany and Walther Reuther must be spinning in their graves!

Freder Frederson said...

They're a high wage country with a strong labor movement and, if anything, more regulation than the US. But they've got strong unions and a healthy manufacturing sector, and somehow we've got neither.

Shhhhhhhh!

You don't want to ruin the meme that unions are universally evil

YoungHegelian said...

One of my long-time buddies in DC works for the AFL-CIO in IT. I have spoken to him many times about the future fate of the unions. I've proposed to him that the future of unions lies not in the 1st world but among the workers of China, India, and SE Asia, and that any help assistance that the AFL-CIO could give those workers now might have tremendous pay-offs in the future. He agrees, but we both realize that labor organizing in those countries will likely be brutal & violent affairs that'll make the history of labor in the USA look like a picnic. I don't think the cushy labor movement of the modern US has the stomach for fighting not the corporations, but totalitarian government power. There will be no more heroes of organized labor in the US, but one day they'll probably be burying them by the dozens in Shenzhen.

Paul said...

Just one more sign that in 2014 mid-terms it's gonna be hard times for the Democrats.

UAW = Detroit?

Well it will be Democrats = Obamacare = Detroit.

Best polish up your resumes Dems.

Michael said...

Freder. VW made no effort to oppose the union. They provided offices and work spaces for the union to promote themselves. It is absurd to believe that Corker's remarks would influence people who already had jobs to vote against their interests. The UAW lost. They had nothing to offer.

garage mahal said...

garage was crowing about this election a couple of weeks ago.

What an ass.


Fuck you, liar.

Birches said...

The problem is attaching a toxic brand to unionization.

If VW wanted a works council, they should have opted to have workers form their own union organization unique to Tennessee that would not have any National organization calling the shots and getting a piece of their dues.

UAW had nothing to offer satisfied employees, but there was potential for a negative return on joining the UAW. From that perspective, its not hard to see why the union was voted down. It was pure self interest.

Jupiter said...

'"Obama said everyone was in favor of the UAW representing Volkswagen except for local politicians who "are more concerned about German shareholders than American workers"....'

You see, in Obamaland, there is always someone you can screw. Free stuff! Free stuff! You don't even have to steal it yourself, we steal it for you!

Michael said...

Garage. I told you so.

garage mahal said...

Michael -- You did. Closer than you thought perhaps?

Michael said...

Garage. Given the fact that VW did not oppose the union and made no efforts to block the vote I would say no, not surprised.

Paco Wové said...

The contrast in emphasis in the WSJ article on the same event is interesting.

Scott said...

Yeah, it's interesting to note that the starting assembly line wage at Volkswagen is $5/hour more than the UAW unionized GM assembly plant at Spring Hill, Tennessee.

Michael K said...

"No but Republicans in Tennessee were (led by Bob Corker who outright lied about VW's plans to increase production at the plant if the union was kept out)."

And you know this how ?

Birches said...

I'd also note, the employees also voted in their self interest in terms of supervisor/employee relationship. In a Union shop, the supervisors would have been prohibited from helping out on "union designated" jobs. Now, there is probably no such restrictions. When hands are tied like that, it build resentment both ways.

Those strict designations are probably why the Japanese car manufacturers have fought unionization so hard; it doesn't fit in with lean culture.

lemondog said...

re: WSJ article:

The union now must come up with a way to halt its decline. It once represented 1.5 million workers, but now has about 400,000, and diminished influence, as a result of years of downsizing, layoffs and cutbacks by the three Detroit auto makers General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. F +1.06% and Chrysler Group


Why all the blah, blah, blah when the overall private sector trend is down and has been down since the peak in the 1940's
Union Membership %

Quit politicizing, identify issues and address workers concerns.

Maybe unions are obsolete.

Michael said...

VW had planned to double the size of this plant a few years ago to manufacture Audis. The NLRB was then suing Boeing to stop the Dreamliner from being built in S.C. VW took the hint and moved the new plant to Mexico. This is what is known as voting with your feet, a reaction that always confounds the left.

Big Mike said...

@lemondog, unions as they presently exist are obsolete. The 1930's are more than three quarters of a century in the rear view mirror, but the UAW and other industrial unions behave as though their great struggles were only yesterday and globalization never happened. It's very disheartening to see garage ignore reality in every possible way instead of asking himself how to make unions relevant in the 21st century. They will either adapt to the new reality or go the way of the ground sloth.

Michael K said...

"You don't want to ruin the meme that unions are universally evil"

No, just CIO unions. Trade unions have apprenticeships and all, just like German unions.

The CIO unions never contributed much except dissension and greed.

Chuck said...

No, Mr. President. Republicans in Tennessee weren't trying to serve any corporate masters in Wolfsburg.

It's a lot simpler than that. Republicans in Tennessee rightly look at the UAW as a very large political action committee, which happens to have some related interests in automaking and health maintenance organizations.

It's politics, Mr. President. On this one, we don't even need to follow the money. At least not the automaking money. Republicans were just not going to welcome a hostile political organization into their backyard.

I might compare it to Obama's friends on the Chicago City Council voting to bar a Walmart store from opening in their jurisdiction. But that would be unfair. The UAW is far more political and far more partisan than is Walmart.

Hagar said...

I don't think unions as such necessarily are obsolete, but Wagner Act unions certainly are.

YoungHegelian said...

I'm gonna wade into the ideological weeds here, so please bear with me.

I don't think unions are shrinking because they don't offer value, I think unions are shrinking because they no longer have any vision. When an organization that sells a tangible product grows sclerotic, it can survive a long time. When an organization that offers a vision grows sclerotic, it dies in all but name forthwith.

Look at what the historical labor movement stood for. No one on the Left believes in the dignity of labor as a means of self-creation anymore. No one believes in a class consciousness that binds all working men & women together in a common struggle. Now, it's all about poor oppressed melanined people, women, & gays who need to funded by in their "lifestyles" by urban & suburban high-rollers. Blue-collar Joe & Jane Sixpacks, especially if they're white, who want to work hard & do the best for their families can just go hang from the viewpoint of the modern Democratic Party & the Left in general, The rejection of blue-collar life was a major feature of the beginnings of the American New Left in the early 60's, and it has proceeded apace since.

You think I'm making this up? Then why is there a #WarOnWomen & not a #WaronTheWorkingMan meme in the news?

garage mahal said...

VW took the hint and moved the new plant to Mexico. This is what is known as voting with your feet, a reaction that always confounds the left..

VW opened a plant in Mexico to build the Golf. Not sure what that has to do with Chattanooga.

It's an embarrassing spectacle all round for the pathetic state of American labor, and lying snakes like Grover Norquist and Corker involved.

Fen said...

I don't really get why the unions are supporting amnesty for illegals. To increase their membership? Don't the current union members worry that they are being thrown under the boss to fund some union boss's slush fund?

President-Mom-Jeans said...

Bitchtits has a sad.

Womp womp.

Paco Wové said...

"And you know this how ?"

Re-publicans hate workers, ♮ this I know;
be-cause the EnnWyeTee tells me so!♬ ♭

somefeller said...

You think I'm making this up? Then why is there a #WarOnWomen & not a #WaronTheWorkingMan meme in the news?

In part because the latter would be attacked as class warfare by the same sort of people who claim Obama is a secret Muslim who is imposing Bolshevism on America via a watered-down version of national health insurance. Red-baiting works for a lot of people. But your concern trolling about American liberals not being socialist enough is touching.

garage mahal said...

The Obama Union is coming for guns.

Michael said...

Garage.
"VW opened a plant in Mexico to build the Golf. Not sure what that has to do with Chattanooga. "

They did not build this plant in Chattanooga because of the extralegal NLRB actions against Boeing. Built in Mexico instead.

Corkers statement had no influence on the UAW vote. If non- workers could have voted it might have but otherwise Corker is a non sequitur.

YoungHegelian said...

But your concern trolling about American liberals not being socialist enough is touching.

You misunderstand yet again, somefeller. The Left's emphasis on the approved categories of downtrodden persons & fuck the working man is what socialism is now. All of that class-consciousness stuff is as dead as the worship of the goddess Isis.

And so what if the Right calls it Bolshevism? Do you think the Right is going to lighten up if you just preach identity politics instead?

This isn't about what the Right thinks. This is about how the Left organizes itself.

avwh said...


"No but Republicans in Tennessee were (led by Bob Corker who outright lied about VW's plans to increase production at the plant if the union was kept out)."

Yeah, Freder, must be the first time ever a politician lied to get folks to vote against their own best interests. (Those ugly Republicans will try anything, unlike the pristine, forthright, honest-as-the-day-is-long current WH occupant.)

somefeller said...

of that class-consciousness stuff is as dead as the worship of the goddess Isis.

So American liberals are at peace with capitalism. Good of you to finally notice.

And so what if the Right calls it Bolshevism? Do you think the Right is going to lighten up if you just preach identity politics instead?

Obviously not. Though they of course preach identity politics themselves and have done so at least ever since National Review said the South must prevail back in the day.

Marshal said...

Hagar said...
I don't think unions as such necessarily are obsolete, but Wagner Act unions certainly are.


The only value unions ever created was worker safety. Now that OSHA has taken over that role uniions provide nothing as even potential members realize.

Hagar said...

I lived in Illinois for a while in a 100% union area - for construction anyway. I met a number of people - labor and management - who were as nice individuals as could be before 8 and after 5, but acting as perfect pricks on working hours. They firmly believed that this was how they should behave according to the rules for their status and could not conceive of anything different.

YoungHegelian said...

@somefeller,

So American liberals are at peace with capitalism. Good of you to finally notice.

Now what sort of asshole leap of logic says that not-Marxist = pro-Capitalist? That's a pretty feeble understanding of the history of political & economic ideologies, I'd say.

Tell me, somefeller, do you use that sort of logic in in the legal business you're in, too? And replace reasoned argument with snark like you do here? Your clients just must love you.

Eric said...

This is VW's only plant in the world without a works council. VW expressed a desire to set up a works council, but under U.S. labor law, that would require a union.

The solution would be to either start a new union at just that plant or to choose an organization other than the UAW. In the US workers can be represented by any union they certify, so they could pick UFW if they wanted to.

I suspect the reason they didn't certify had more to do with not wanting to be represented by the UAW than not wanting a union.

Jan Blickenstaff said...

If unions took over the Human Resource function of companies and provided the best skilled and most productive employees, handled discipline problems and had a Can Do, Will Do attitude; they would attract membership and corporate sponsors. It would become a boast and pride to belong to the Union as it would only be the best.
Now its is goofy work rules and strikes and funding union bosses. There is no pride of job well done.
Unions only work well where Management is bad and stupid.

Eric said...

The only value unions ever created was worker safety. Now that OSHA has taken over that role uniions provide nothing as even potential members realize.

There's more to it than just safety. I once had a conversation with my grandfather's neighbor, who had been an industrial worker (can't remember what he did - some kind of heavy industry). Before the union if you wanted to keep your job you had to do things like mow the foreman's lawn.

But that kind of stuff would be illegal today anyhow. I'm not sure what the union offers workers today beyond collective bargaining for wages to extract above-market wages and benefits. But in this globalized world it's not hard for people to see what happens to your job when you do that.

somefeller said...

Uh oh. I see I've gotten YoungHegelian all stirred up. But while non-Marxist does not equal pro-capitalist, not-Marxist and pro-capitalist is a good description of mainstream liberalism in the US after WWII. I know that simple fact probably annoys YH when he wants to wax Hegelian, but facts are stubborn things.

YoungHegelian said...

@somefeller,

If facts are such stubborn & wonderful things, perhaps you might want to deploy them (with some illustrative hot links) more often, somefeller, and leave the snark at home.

Also, you might want to look up the word equivocal because when you do you'll find the word liberal right next to it as an example of a word equivocated right out of any possible meaning. Yes, much of the post-war Democratic Party was more or less okay with a Keynesian capitalist state. But the Old Left folks & their New Left descendants of whom I spoke above have never reconciled themselves to capitalism. And they are now the left wing of the Democratic Party, which they were not under e.g. Johnson.

Uhu work said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael K said...

"It's an embarrassing spectacle all round for the pathetic state of American labor, and lying snakes like Grover Norquist and Corker involved."

I think they used to call it "false consciousness" in your favorite country. Before it collapsed, of course.

YoungHegelian said...

@Uhu,

Oh yeah! You stay the fuck out of this! This is between me & somefeller.

somefeller said...

Yes, much of the post-war Democratic Party was more or less okay with a Keynesian capitalist state.

Of course they were. They are the ones that created it. And careful using the word "Keynesian". That's a bad word among many on the Right, and not just the ones who confuse it with "Kenyan".

But the Old Left folks & their New Left descendants of whom I spoke above have never reconciled themselves to capitalism.

And they've never been in the driver's seat of American liberalism as actually practiced politically.

And they are now the left wing of the Democratic Party, which they were not under e.g. Johnson.

If the Old Left wasn't the left wing of the Democratic Party in Ye Olde Days, what was it the left wing of? And if it wasn't relevant in the 60s, why did so many conservatives back then worry about it (Jesse Helms's old nickname for UNC comes to mind).

And did my mention of the sort of identity politics tied with the Right offend you? If so, lo siento. Or was my use of Spanish there offensive also? I know that Super Bowl Coke ad enraged many conservatives. Identity politics!

Michael K said...

"The solution would be to either start a new union at just that plant or to choose an organization other than the UAW. In the US workers can be represented by any union they certify, so they could pick UFW if they wanted to."

The TEAM Act by Nancy Kassebaum was passed and would have solved the works council mater but Clinton vetoes it. Guess why ?


The act would have re-established the clear legality of nonunion management-worker teams to consider a wide range of workplace issues, including safety, efficiency, benefits and quality control. The act was a response to recent National Labor Relations Board rulings striking down some of the thousands of work teams that began proliferating in the 1980s - for example, Polaroid's Employee Owner Influence Council, which was struck down in June.

Original Mike said...

Interesting. Thanks for the info, Michael.

YoungHegelian said...

@somefeller,

And they've never been in the driver's seat of American liberalism as actually practiced politically.

As part of the two party system until the internal "reforms" of the Democratic Party after McGovern, I agree. The infiltration into the Dems by the New left starts then.

If the Old Left wasn't the left wing of the Democratic Party in Ye Olde Days, what was it the left wing of?

In the US, politically, itself.

And if it wasn't relevant in the 60s, why did so many conservatives back then worry about it (Jesse Helms's old nickname for UNC comes to mind).

Just because the Left wasn't in the American two party system didn't mean they didn't have major cultural influence. Why would you think that "out of the two party system" means "no political influence"? The Left was working their Gramscian March tunes any way they could.

I wasn't offended by your claim of "identity politics" and the "Southern (i.e. white) Strategy". It's just that just such a old hackneyed canard on the Left that we have exploded in this very forum not that long ago that I don't feel the need to go through it again. I realize that the claim that Republicans are racist is just self-obvious to you, but for the rest of us, the history of American racism is so varied & diverse that no one, including blacks (e.g. Nation of Islam) is exempt from its stains.

I've got a concert to go to (Bach Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord), so I'll leave the last word to you & the others.

broomhandle said...

YH hits the nail squarely on the head in his 2:08 post.
In a previous, more naive, life I spent two years working as a SEIU organizer. My fellow organizers were for the most part one of two types. Recent college graduates who'd never broke a sweat in their lives but who believed labor organizing made them latter day Joe Hills, or working-class malcontents who were incapable of holding a steady job for reasons that had nothing to do with performance. The former type didn't have a clue about the people they were attempting to organize and the latter type didn't give a shit. Leadership was comprised of self-aggrandizing sharks who were far more interested in stroking politicians than servicing the contracts of the members.
Initially it was fun and I thought I was making a difference but it soon became clear that SEIU was primarily interested in SEIU and fuck the people (and I heard this said aloud more than once) it was supposed to be representing. After one campaign, where they threw what should have been a walkover election at a small hospital to appease the management of an already-represented larger hospital owned by the same company, I was out of there.
Learned a whole lot about Leftist bullshit and it's uses, though.


Owen said...

@broomhandle: great anecdote. I would speculate that a big problem with union shops are the work rules which destroy initiative. Toyota actively solicits constant innovation from people on the line. But if every bright idea needs to be negotiated through the union to make sure it doesn't cut into their piece of the pie, it won't work. Innovation is about change and growth. Work rules are about status quo.

Maybe unions are too top-down for modern economy?

kentuckyliz said...

Call the worker council a Quality Circle. Have quarterly company forums with a big picnic afterwards. Celebrate Festivus.

I bet they have profit-sharing, so those workers are owners,

They chose the wrong moment. Wait until the workers are disgruntled, and the union activists can promise to regruntle them.

Paco Wové said...

"...the UAW and President Obama have both become "toxic brands"."

Back in the late 70's - early 80's, my elder brother worked on the ticket desk for a major airline when the Teamsters came along and tried to organize his co-workers. They failed, and when I asked him about it, he said, "Come on, it's the Teamsters!"

garage mahal said...

Great War of Obama Union Aggression. It's Your Patriotic Duty to VOTE NO.

Tim said...

No use for the UAW. Has always been a bunch of thugs working for themselves and occasionally the car companies and Democrats at the expense of the workers they are supposed to represent.

The United Mine Workers on the other hand, despite the rampant corruption which they never seem to be able to stamp out completely, has done more for miners than any other organization including the US government, and I will support their right to continue to represent miners till doomsday.

SOME unions were necessary to get us where we are today. The UAW ain't one of them. And neither is the Teamsters.

Owen said...

@broomhandle: great anecdote. I would speculate that a big problem with union shops are the work rules which destroy initiative. Toyota actively solicits constant innovation from people on the line. But if every bright idea needs to be negotiated through the union to make sure it doesn't cut into their piece of the pie, it won't work. Innovation is about change and growth. Work rules are about status quo.

Maybe unions are too top-down for modern economy?

Unknown said...

----lying snakes like Grover Norquist and Corker involved.

Don't forget the evil Koch Brothers!! Bwhhahahaha

Unknown said...

-- because the latter would be attacked as class warfare by the same sort of people who claim Obama is a secret Muslim who is imposing Bolshevism on America via a watered-down version of national health insurance.

Yeah, keep telling yourself that baby. Because today's socialists are telling low information Americans like you that they can be free from work. That no one should have to work hard, that blue collar workers are dummys and everyone should go to college, that free stuff is coming.

Meanwhile, Mike Rowe is joining with Walmart to remind Americans that work is beautiful. The popularity of shows about work shows that we still get it.

tomaig said...

The UAW also represents the Table Games dealers at Foxwoods Casino...It hasn't prevented any layoffs (135+ just announced a couple weeks ago). But they have jacked up their Union dues for dealers who get WAY less than minimum wage + tips. Even with tips, most dealers make considerably less that $20/hr, which in Connecticut is not much.

John Lynch said...

I wouldn't read this too deeply. We're talking about less than 100 votes. If 50 guys had voted the other way we'd be hearing about "America's resurgent labor movement."

It's just 50 guys. Don't get too excited.

David Davenport said...

I imagine that after this vote Volkswagen's management, being as German as it is, will be sitting around the table in Wolfsburg staring at each other until one of them voices the question on everyone's mind: "Why didn't the workers vote their class interest?

It may be that IG Metal, the German auto worker's union, has been the entity pushing for unionization at VW Chattanooga. VW mgmt. has been going along for the ride in an effort to keep labor-management peace back home in Deutschland.

IG Metal would like to shut down VW Chattanooga because the cost of production there is lower than in Germany, and manufacturing quality is as good or better.

Electricity, natural gas, raw materials, North American made parts -- all cheaper at Chattanooga.

Tennessee has or had three car factories in recent decades: Nissan, GM Saturn, and VW. Remember GM's Saturn car brand? The Saturn factory was UAW. The other two plants are non-union.

Which brand has gone out of business?

SGT Ted said...

It was a money grab by the UAW, who are money leeches for the Democrat Party. Unions are legalized criminal gangs.

There is no need for workers there to unionize to improve conditions.

David Davenport said...

I believe that VW's [American] Golf model, previously called the Rabbit, was manufactured at Westmoreland PA. Later, the Golf assembly plant was moved to Mexico.


Westmoreland and Auburn Hills

VWoA inaugurated the Volkswagen Westmoreland Assembly Plant near New Stanton, Pennsylvania, in 1978. This was the first modern venture by a foreign automaker at making cars in the USA. In 1988, the plant was closed.. In the early 1980s, the manufacturing division and the sales division were merged, and Volkswagen of America moved to Troy, Michigan, as a result, settling in Auburn Hills, Michigan, in 1991 ...

New Headquarters in Virginia[edit]

On September 6, 2007, Volkswagen of America announced it would relocate its North American headquarters to Herndon, Virginia. ...

New manufacturing plant[edit]

On July 15, 2008, after an intense, months-long battle between Huntsville, Alabama, a site in Michigan and Chattanooga, Tennessee, the company's supervisory board chose Chattanooga as the location for the new plant.[12] This $1 billion investment will be producing about 150,000 cars a year by its slated opening in 2011, playing a major role in the company's strategy to gain more than 6% of the car market, or about 800,000 cars on top of the 230,000 it produced in America in 2007, by 2018.[7][13] This plant will also become Volkswagen Group of America's manufacturing headquarters in the USA.[13] The plant was inaugurated on May 24, 2011.[14][15]


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Group_of_America

SGT Ted said...

Freder is shocked a politician would lie.

So what about Bob Corker, Freder? The UAW brings the VW workers nothing but trouble and corruption and failure. The VW workers have their eyes open and know what is what.

Your framing: that the workers were fooled into not voting in the UAW, based what one politician said about one car, merely shows that you are just another paternalistic, elitist asshole who thinks he knows what's better for other peoples lives.

Who the fuck are you to tell others that they should give their wages to Union thugs?

The UAW would bring them a lower wage, fewer workers, strife between employees, idiotic, Soviet Style work rules designed to reduce productivity, money stolen from their paychecks to give to politicians and most likely bankruptcy of the plant in the future, given the history of the UAW.

The UAW gets free money for doing NOTHING for workers.

Why don't you go on down to the plant and tell those guys they were too stupid?

Oh you won't, because that would actually force you to take their own opinion into account, when you can just sit here and whine about how they MUST have been fooled by what one politician said. Which reveals that you think they are dumb sheep to be led by whoever tells them the best lie.

SGT Ted said...

You don't want to ruin the meme that unions are universally evil.

The ones here are evil and corrupt. You can tell by how they act and talk. They work for the Democrat Party and their fat cat management salaries, and not for workers.

But good for the Germans. At least their unions aren't mere money leeches for a political party.

SGT Ted said...

In a Union shop, the supervisors would have been prohibited from helping out on "union designated" jobs.

Like I said; Stupid Work Rules.

Unions use the Alinsky model of social interaction and then wonder why they are so unpopular.

SGT Ted said...



No but Republicans in Tennessee were (led by Bob Corker who outright lied about VW's plans to increase production at the plant if the union was kept out).

It's an embarrassing spectacle all round for the pathetic state of American labor, and lying snakes like Grover Norquist and Corker involved.


You can see the lefty contempt for the worker right here in action. Out in the Open for all of us to see.

They think them too stupid to vote properly if they reject an openly corrupt union.

It MUST be Grover Norquists or some righty politicans fault.

Unions aren't sacred. That's the point.

SGT Ted said...

The early history of the labor movement is organizing groups of illiterate immigrants who would take any job to survive, because they were isolated from the American mainstream, due to their language barriers and lack of an education.

This is instructive as to why the big Unions are supporting Amnesty for the mostly Mexican illegal immigrants; they are another large block of socially isolated illiterates that don't speak English and can thus be manipulated with lies about how great unions are and how shitty their employers are.

The American auto worker, or any other skilled labor, is far too smart and educated to fall for the unions self serving bullshit.

If the unions were require to recertify every 5 years, they wouldn't even have the 5% they have now, as people would have voted to put the Union dues back into their own pockets and told the Unions to take a hike.

Crazy Jane said...

News reports suggest that at least some of the votes in favor of the UAW came from employees who wanted VW to be able to form a works council. Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Michigan-style labor-management antagonism.

broomhandle said...

John Lynch,
It was less than a 100 votes in an unopposed election. That's huge. If all our campaigns had been unopposed when I was organizing, we wouldn't have lost a single one.

Fen said...

The Left always feels betrayed on this topic. Unions were America's alternative to communism, and now they are dying.

Bob Loblaw said...

The Twinkie baker's union was so successful at standing its ground that it cost all of its members their jobs and caused the plant to shut down.

And pro-union people are surprised that the VW workers turned down that sort of representation?

Hyphenated American said...

UAW simply needed more bodies to pay for,their massive pension fund.

gregq said...

"Unfortunately, politically motivated third parties threatened the economic future of this facility and the opportunity for workers to create a successful operating model that would grow jobs in Tennessee," Gary Casteel, the union official in charge of the VW campaign, said in a statement.

While looking in a mirror.

gregq said...

American unions need to reinvent themselves, in order to present a service that workers are willing to buy at a price they are willing to pay.

They can't, until the Wagner Act is repealed or significantly replaced.

US Wagner Act unions are essentially required to be obstructive, not cooperative. Got a total f-up of a "worker" management wants to fire? Union must fight for him. Want to have a place where the work and workers are flexible, and can be moved around at need? No union for you. Want to pay people based on the quality of their work, not their seniority? No union for you.

VW would have been screwed to the UAW had won. And so would its workers. The VW management 1: probably didn't understand what they were getting in to with a Wagner Act union (German unions aren't nearly so screwed up), 2: Was probably more interested in getting along with their home unions than worried about what the UAW would do to them.

Lucky for them, they hired bright employees, and those employees turned down the union.

Mitch H. said...

If VW wanted a works council, they should have opted to have workers form their own union organization unique to Tennessee that would not have any National organization calling the shots and getting a piece of their dues.

German and Japanese union practices are, apparently, illegal in the US, falling under the general heading of "company unions". And what you describe, while not exactly mapping the Japanese/German model, would definitely be "illegal". The CIO industry unions have historically despised particular or local unions, their entire strategy has been based on the fact that they're industry-wide, while management is localized, even in the biggest conglomerates. Allowing representational competition would wreck that inherent advantage, and they've successfully written a prohibition against that sort of thing into labor law.

Not that representational pissing matches don't happen, but it's usually between two industrial unions squabbling over a debatable plant.

I'm surprised nobody from Chattanooga actually came out and said what they must have been thinking, which is that they didn't want to be burdened carrying the legacy pension and healthcare costs of the UAW's army of ravening retirees.