Tennessee Auto Workers’ Vote Enrages Union Bosses

In June, Right to Work staff attorney Bill Messenger delivered congressional testimony against the so-called “PRO Act,” legislation that would greatly intensify federal labor law’s bias against individual employee rights.

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Throughout their latest campaign, launched in early April, to secure monopoly-bargaining control over Volkswagen (VW) employees in Chattanooga, Tenn., United Auto Workers (UAW) union bosses enjoyed important structural advantages.

Because they had ready access to a massive war chest that is stocked largely with workers’ compulsory dues and fees, UAW officials were able to greatly outspend opponents of monopolistic unionism on PR.

Immediately before and during the June 12-14 unionization vote, the radio and TV airwaves in Chattanooga were flooded with Big Labor-funded ads vilifying VW and lauding workplace collectivism.

As rabidly pro-forced unionism journalist Chris Brooks acknowledged in an electoral post mortem for Labor Notes, “The union even had video messages running on the pumps at gas stations near the plant.”

Another major factor working in the UAW hierarchy’s favor was that VW, as an international company whose worldwide production workforce is overwhelmingly unionized, clearly feared repercussions if its Tennessee managers directly asked employees to vote against UAW monopoly control.

Consequently, company messages to front-line Chattanooga workers about the potential detriments of unionization were elliptical, whereas the UAW pitch about the supposed benefits was blunt and unapologetic.

Unfortunately for UAW bosses, their huge advantages turned out in the end to be not quite sufficient to overcome workers’ skepticism regarding a union that was recently named by the FBI as a “coconspirator” in a scheme to loot a multimillion-dollar worker training fund.

And over the course of the 10-week campaign prior to the vote, workers also had the opportunity to learn about UAW officials’ long record of foisting counter-productive, job-destroying work rules on motor-vehicle workers and firms.

Workers Learned About UAW Brass’ Long Record of Job Destruction

National Right to Work Committee Vice President Matthew Leen commented:

“Big Labor bosses believe it’s ‘unfair’ that VW managers and other citizens informed Chattanooga autoworkers prior to the vote about the fact, for example, that former UAW Vice President Norwood Jewell had pleaded guilty in April to accepting tens of thousands of dollars in meals and golf trips from Fiat Chrysler.

“Outraged union officials also don’t think anyone should have been allowed to talk to VW rank-and-file employees about the fact that, this year, General Motors is in the process of shuttering five of its North American plants, all of which employ or used to employ UAW-‘represented’ workers.”

Unfortunately, if S.1306/H.R.2474, a Big Labor legislative power grab that is pending in the U.S. Congress and already publicly backed by more than 200 senators and House members, becomes law, union bosses will have a far easier time keeping workers in the dark throughout future organizing campaigns.

Introduced in both chambers of Congress on May 2, S.1306/H.R.2474 has been cynically mislabeled by its champions as the “Protecting the Right to Organize” Act, or PRO Act.

Its lead sponsors are Big Labor Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and union-label Congressman Bobby Scott (D-Va.). Mr. Scott is chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee.

“The PRO Act is a smorgasbord of special-interest delights for the union hierarchy,” explained Mr. Leen.

“Its single most outrageous provision would amend the National Labor Relations Act to empower union bosses in all 50 states, including the 27 erstwhile Right to Work states, to force employees to pay union fees against their will.”

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“And that’s just for starters,” continued Mr. Leen.

“Another provision would empower National Labor Relations Board bureaucrats, unilaterally, to overturn secret-ballot votes, handing workers over to Big Labor without so much as a repeat election.

“Yet another provision would effectively prohibit employers from informing their own employees about the potential downsides of unionization.

“In the wake of UAW bosses’ stinging defeat in Chattanooga a few weeks ago, Big Labor is reportedly pushing harder than ever for passage of the PRO Act.

“Among this radical bill’s Senate sponsors are a number of 2020 Democrat presidential hopefuls, including Sens. Bernie Sanders [I-Vt.], Kamala Harris [D-Calif.], and Elizabeth Warren [D-Mass.].

“This scheme is a brazen attack on the personal freedom of American employees. Right to Work members will do everything possible to ensure it never becomes law, and to hold politicians who support it accountable.”