When the workers at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga voted against UAW representation, a lot of people were happy. Tennessee senator Bob Corker and governor Bill Haslam, both of whom threatened to yank tax incentives if the UAW won, expressed satisfaction. Conservative commentators around the nation talked about the “death of the UAW,” and commenters here on TundraHeadquarters traded anti-UAW barbs.
To be clear, I’m not a fan of the UAW. While the UAW helps all autoworkers earn more money (UAW labor rates set the standard for the rest of the industry), the union also promotes an “us vs. them” attitude among workers that is neither appropriate or productive. I’ve written time and again about the UAW’s ineptitude and general awfulness.
Yet this time, I think the UAW should have won…and I think the UAW’s loss is a slap in the face to business owners everywhere.
This last week the UAW campaign at the VW Tennessessee, a story we have been covering for some time, came to a conclusion. The votes were cast, counted and by a slim margin, workers said no to the union. Yet, like most things, this story isn’t without controversy.
The “killers of Detroit,” as some call them, are at it again trying to unionize a VW plant in Chattanooga, TN. The UAW has so far failed with its Toyota efforts, can it win over VW employees with its “new model” campaign?
A shocking news story a few years ago showed Chrysler workers drinking and smoking pot on their lunch break. They were suspended indefinitely at the time. Now a labor arbiter has ruled that they can get their jobs back. Huh?
This week marks the beginning of serious negotiations between the Canadian Autoworkers Union (CAW) and the domestic* manufacturers Ford, GM, and Chrysler-Fiat. Unlike the UAW, which agreed to a series of concessions during the automotive bail-out, the CAW has been able to maintain roughly the same type of rules that the UAW used to have prior to 2009. Specifically:
- CAW workers are all paid the same wage; UAW workers are on a two wage tier system where newer workers make less than older workers
- CAW workers do not have any profit sharing; UAW workers rely upon profit sharing bonuses
These two mechanisms – two tier wages and profit sharing – are essential to the success of the UAW and the automakers they work for. Yet for some reason, the Canadian autoworkers don’t feel that they need to follow the same set of rules that the American autoworkers follow. If the CAW doesn’t concede, the risk is that automakers will simply abandon Canadian production in the next decade or so…and the CAW will cease to exist.
*I say “domestic” only because that’s what these manufacturers are commonly known as. In truth, they build a substantial portion of their vehicles, powertrains, etc. in Mexico.