published Saturday, August 30th, 2014

UAW: ‘No’ doesn’t mean ‘no’

Like former Soviet premier Nikita Kruschev famously uttering “We will bury you” to Western ambassadors, United Auto Workers secretary/treasurer Gary Casteel confidently told Times Free Press writers and editors Friday that Volkswagen soon would recognize UAW Local 42 by dealing with its members and in time could voluntarily recognize the local as the majority representative of company employees (i.e., without a vote).

The union’s formation and organizing efforts all have been done in collaboration with VW, he said. “Everything seems to be coming together.”

The UAW lost a 712-626 vote to represent workers in February, the loss a “perfect storm” of political interference, misunderstandings and snow that may have been responsible for 200 workers not voting, Casteel said.

Now, he said, the new local has “substantially more than 700 members.” He declined to say if that was an official majority of the workforce at the assembly plant, a requirement to be recognized.

Casteel says some of the interference against union representation in the February vote was perpetrated by U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R.-Tenn., perhaps because Casteel upbraided him when they were both speakers at the General Motors Spring Hill, Tenn., plant after the senator had voted against the government bailout of GM and Chrysler in 2008.

“I took issue with the way he voted,” the UAW rep said. Without the bailout, the automakers would have fallen into “national bankruptcy,” which was “a lot bigger problem than [just] GM and Chrysler.”

Corker told Times Free Press reporters and editors earlier this month he knew for a fact Volkswagen would not have added a second, planned line at the Enterprise South plant if the union had won representation last winter.

Neither Casteel nor the three Local 42 members accompanying him said the new local would act or be any different from the parent UAW. They both have to abide by the same UAW constitution, Casteel said.

As such, he said, the local cannot collect official dues until 30 days after the conclusion of the union’s first collective bargaining agreement. When such dues are collected, he said, the majority of money stays local, but some goes to the national UAW for support services. Among those support services is money given to helpful political agendas, almost all of which support the Democratic Party.

Quite frankly, the UAW’s reputation as an arm of the Democratic Party is likely one of the reasons many VW employees did not support the union in February. Another is that workers may be afraid a union may collectively bargain them out of jobs and that the only VW plant in the United States will go the way of the last one, which closed after less than 10 years in Westmoreland County, Pa., in 1988.

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GaussianInteger said...

"Corker told Times Free Press reporters and editors earlier this month he knew for a fact Volkswagen would not have added a second, planned line at the Enterprise South plant if the union had won representation last winter."

And we are supposed to trust Corker? Back in February, when the employees were prepared to vote, he said that if they voted against the union, VW would announce in a few days the addition of the SUV line. It took several months. Any rational person can see that the SUV line, coming to Chattanooga or not, hinged on the incentives TN offered to VW. So Corker is being dishonest. The state withholding the money, if the union vote passed, probably would have kept VW from bringing the SUV to Chattanooga. But that would've been on the state, not VW because the union vote did not matter to the company. The TN legislature played a dangerous game of cat and mouse, but now there is little they can do to stop the union and VW will still reap the rewards. And all of the TN anti-union legislation is not going to pass due to its unconstitutionality. Ultimately, if VW wants the union in the plant, there is nothing Corker or any other TN politician can do at this point. Besides, look at the Spring Hill GM plant. A UAW shop, just added a SUV and crossover line.

August 30, 2014 at 10:03 a.m.
javelin363 said...

According to an article in this very paper a few months ago there are 8 companies in Tennessee that are UAW shops. And the sky hasn't fallen yet. The republicans want to keep this a $12 an hour state. $12 an hour was good money 30 years ago. But now if I were selling cars, tv, camping supplies, or just about anything else I want people to have more to spend more. If I were an elected official I want people to make more to spend more to raise the tax base. It is a shame the senators and governor of our state are willing to lose jobs here to keep wages down. BTW to the anti union employees of VW, if memory serves when they first announced they were building the plant here they said line pay would be around $22 an hour.

August 31, 2014 at 4:46 p.m.
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