UAW’s Chattanooga Kabuki, Trying To Look Relevant

uaw-union-local-42-only-25-membersRecently,  UAW Secretary-Treasurer Gary Casteel orchestrated a Kabuki Dance (political posturing) for the press and set off a several days of commotions about the United Auto Workers union and their presence in the South.   But, it really was no more than a union boss trying to be relevant when the fate of his union had already been decided in Chattanooga after the UAW union was rejected by Volkswagen employees’ secret ballot votes.   (You may remember, it took Chattanooga Volkswagen (VW) employees and their attorneys from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation several months of wrangling with UAW union lawyers, VW lawyers and the NLRB to allow these employees the opportunity for the vote in secret.)

Casteel’s public relations gambits appear to be no more than efforts to prevent, or at least distract people from, inevitable stories like the one in the Wall Street Journal article that confirms the UAW union’s current troubles in Chattanooga:

The February vote to reject an organizing bid by the United Auto Workers paid off big for workers in Tennessee on Monday. Volkswagen announced it will invest $900 million to build a new sport-utility vehicle in Chattanooga, creating 2,000 [additional] jobs that would probably have gone to Mexico if the UAW had won.

Many of the recent stories about UAW’s Chattanooga plant have been regurgitations of UAW union boss press releases and talking points.  Some points to ponder:

  • The press persists in forgetting a union boss’ relatively recently proffered provocation:  “SUV expansion would not come to Chattanooga unless VW employees voted for the UAW.”
  • UAW’s recent Big Announcement includes a VW-UAW agreement UAW bosses are calling a deal that doesn’t appear to exist.  “Upon Local 42 signing up a meaningful portion of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga workforce, we’re confident the company will recognize Local 42 by dealing with it as a members’ union that represents those employees who join the local.”
    • First, after a year, should the UAW receive a majority of the VW employees’ support, it could force VW workers to accept it as a bargaining agent through an NLRB election.
    • Second, “. . . we’re confident the company will recognize . . .” UAW bosses appear to be engaging wishful thinking – not a deal.
    • Third, UAW’s bosses’ claim that they will represent each member of the local UAW is what union bosses are supposed to do – represent their members’ interests.
  • UAW’s recent Big Announcement includes “UAW officials renewed requests for the State of Tennessee to extend the economic incentives necessary for Volkswagen to add a new product line at the Chattanooga plant.” That was already a done deal whether UAW bosses requested it or not.
  • UAW’s recent Big Announcement includes “No employees will be required to join. . .” the UAW union.  Tennessee, unlike Wisconsin or California, has Right to Work employee protections and employees by cannot be required to join or support the UAW union.  It would be like President Obama announcing that he is going to allow John Boehner to remain Speaker of the House.  Neither Obama nor UAW union bosses have the unilateral authority to force an opposite circumstance.
  • UAW’s recent Big Announcement includes a statement that the new UAW Local 42’s “. . . 25 current members will not pay union dues.”  According to several press reports, UAW can’t collect any dues until 30 days after a collective bargaining agreement with a company has been put in place. Again, no news provided by the UAW.
  • UAW’s recent Big Announcement that may upset current UAW union members and force-fee payers the most is that the UAW’s recently increased forced dues and voluntary dues will fully subsidize the new Chattanooga UAW clubhouse and its staff.

Don’t allow UAW’s attempt to appear relevant in Chattanooga. Nor, should you be lulled into complacency.  With VW management placing an outspoken German union boss Bernd Osterloh on its North American board, UAW officials now have an inside man at VW North America.

The dangerous threat to Right to Work Freedoms currently enjoyed by employees in 24 states remains from all union bosses who have ability to force tens of thousands of employees to pay forced dues.  It is only the fact that UAW bosses can still force tens of thousands Americans to pay them dues against their will that continues to keep UAW bosses relevant in America. Until a National Right to Work Act is passed freeing millions of Americans from the yoke of union boss servitude, then Right to Work Freedom in any state remains under a constant threat.