President Obama Forgot All About the VW Workers in Chattanooga

For reasons I won’t discuss here, Volkswagen (VW) executives have been so biased in favor of United Auto Workers (UAW/AFL-CIO) union officials’ campaign to secure monopoly-bargaining privileges over employees at the company’s assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., that they were willing to break federal law to ensure a Big Labor victory.  Nevertheless, late last week the plant’s workers defeated the campaign in a 712-636 secret-ballot vote.

As the National Right to Work Committee blog reported, citing commentator Diana Furchtgott-Roth, last Wednesday, in the run-up to the vote over whether or not UAW kingpins should be installed as monopoly-bargaining representatives of VW’s front-line employees in Chattanooga, VW allowed “pro-union material and UAW representatives to walk the halls speaking to employees, according to news reports.”  Prior to a unionization vote, under federal labor law employers may allow both proponents and opponents of a union monopoly equal access to company property and employees, or deny any access to both sides.  But employers may not legally grant access to one side while denying it to the other, as VW did, assuming multiple media accounts are correct and eyewitness reports from the scene are correct.

Given that the UAW hierarchy “couldn’t even win an election it had been handed on a silver platter by management,” as pundit Mickey Kaus put it for the Daily Caller, it is hard to believe that UAW bosses and their allies are now claiming they lost because a number of elected officials in Tennessee “unfairly” spoke against unionization prior to and during the three-day vote.

In reality, as Detroit Free Press business columnist Tom Walsh pointed out this morning in USA Today (see the first link below), the key reason UAW bosses lost is that they “failed to convince a majority of Chattanooga VW workers that their lives would be better with the UAW than without it.”

Walsh elaborated:

Could the UAW deliver better wages and benefits to VW workers, in return for the dues members would have to pay?  Clearly, the union couldn’t make that case — didn’t even try, really. VW line workers already make a base wage as good as new hires at Detroit Three plants.

What about workers having a voice in how the plant operates?

VW workers say they often get inquiries from plant management about their job satisfaction and ideas for improvements — and that management acts on them. A happy bunch, apparently.

Of course, independent-minded workers might well never have had the chance to vote against “exclusive” union representation before it was foisted on had they not benefited from the expert assistance of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation.  It was largely due to the help they received from the Foundation that such workers were able to dissuade VW from granting the UAW brass monopoly-bargaining power through a so-called “card check,” without any vote.  This is what UAW President Bob King and his lieutenants were openly pushing for until very recently.

Incredibly, last Friday, just a few hours before the vote count was made public showing that, despite an electoral playing field tilted steeping in the UAW elite’s favor,  independent-minded workers had prevailed, President Obama was quoted in a Reuters News story as claiming that practically everyone was in favor of a UAW monopoly in Chattanooga:

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,” according to a Democratic aide who attended the meeting with Democratic lawmakers in the House of Representatives.  (See the second link below for the whole story.)

Somehow, the President forgot about the front-line employees in Chattanooga!  But thanks in part to the Right to Work Foundation, those workers’ voices have now, nevertheless, been heard.

Column: UAW failed to make case in Tennessee

Obama weighs in on contentious union vote at Volkswagen plant