Chattanooga NAACP supports workers rights in Volkswagen vote

Chattanooga NAACP supports workers rights in Volkswagen vote

April 5th, 2014 by Yolanda Putman in Business Around the Region

Joe Rowe, right, speaks as Kevin Myles, left, and Monroe Woods listen during a press conference about the recent Volkswagen union vote at the NAACP office.

Photo by Angela Lewis Foster /Times Free Press.

Politicians and billionaires took the vote for organized labor out of the hands of Volkswagen workers and gave it to a few people trying to control the country with power and wealth, said Chattanooga NAACP executive committee member Joe Rowe.

Rowe was one of nearly two dozen NAACP members from across the state and region gathered at the Chattanooga-branch NAACP office Friday demanding that Volks- wagen workers get an opportunity to vote concerning a union without any influence from outside politicians.

A United Auto Workers member also attended the news conference but said he could not comment to the media.

Unions are being attacked around the country, but Chattanooga is the place where people from outside the city and the state have been brought in to prevent workers from organizing a union, said NAACP officials.

Billionaire businessmen David and Charles Koch have become key players concerning the union campaign, and they have no real stake in the outcome of this, said Rowe.

"We need to take a firm stand at this time and push back as hard as we can and ask the federal government to take a look at all of these people to see if they have stepped over the line," said Rowe. "If they are infringing on anyone's rights, they should be dealt with rapidly and severely."

NAACP officials said that the union failure at Volkswagen in Chattanooga has a national effect because other companies were watching the attempt to organize and planning to model organized labor movements with the same pattern.

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and state GOP leaders urged workers to reject the UAW. The politicians said the union would hurt business recruitment in Tennessee and that jobs that could have been in the Chattanooga area would go elsewhere.

VW workers voted 712 to 626 in February against aligning with the UAW.

Kevin C. Myles, NAACP's Southeast Regional Director, said unions help to reduce the income gap.

"We believe unions are the great equalizer in the fight against economic inequality and we refuse to stand by idly while Chattanooga workers are denied the ability to decide for themselves whether or not to organize without coercion or undue pressure from national or state political figures," Myles said Kevin C. Myles.

Contact Yolanda Putman at or 423-757-6431.