UAW: 'No' doesn't mean 'no'

UAW: 'No' doesn't mean 'no'

August 30th, 2014 in Opinion Free Press

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.