Why Labor Lost Its Crucial VW Vote
Pundits weigh in on what the UAW needs to do now
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Feb 18, 2014 1:35 PM CST
Retired circuit judge Sam Payne announces that Volkswagen employees voted against United Auto Workers representation, Feb. 14, 2014, in Chattanooga, Tenn.   (AP Photo/Chattanooga Times Free Press, Dan Henry)

(Newser) – On Friday, the United Auto Workers union lost what had been hyped as a make-or-break vote for the future of the labor movement, as Volkswagen workers in Chattanooga, Tenn., rejected a company-backed plan to unionize. Why did that happen, and what does it mean for unions? Here's what people are saying:

  • It is first and foremost the story of how "outside influence" affected the election, argues Richard Wolff in a post on Bill Moyers' site. "Organizations of business, the wealthy, and the conservatives … work constantly to shape workers' life experiences and thus how they see the world." That made public opinion a fertile ground when outside groups started buying anti-union billboards. It's always been this way though: in the 1930s, communist groups did the same on the pro-union side.

  • That played a factor, agrees Jon Healey at the LA Times, but "the fundamental problem is that the pitch itself wasn't compelling." VW already paid its workers well, so what did they have to gain? UAW pitched it as a way to give workers a voice in company policy and make the entire company run more smoothly. "Right. And workers are supposed to pay for that privilege?"
  • "Many folks in Chattanooga see the UAW as modern-day carpet baggers," observes Peter Morici at the Detroit Free Press. The union strongly supports the Democratic party, and with it liberal causes like abortion rights and gun control that "are an anathema to many Southern blue-collar workers." Many also blame the union for bringing down Detroit. The UAW needs to "give up on most social causes that have nothing to do with their members' wages and work environment."
  • VW supported the effort because it likes the "workers' council" model Germany's IG Metall union fosters. "But the UAW is a very different sort of beast," and workers knew it, the National Review argues. It hobbled Detroit's automakers with "with ridiculous and cumbersome work rules," and it's so corrupt that workers can't actually trust it to look out for them. "The ladies and gentlemen in Tennessee are backing the right horse here."

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Feb 21, 2014 2:20 AM CST
The data show that despite improvements in education and health nationally, Republicans have accomplished their goal of seriously setting back progress when it comes to the economic well-being of children in Republican-controlled Southern states. It is bad enough that the richest nation on Earth comes in at number 2 in the world with over 23% of its children living in extreme poverty, but the numbers are worse in the bottom five states that, not coincidently, are controlled by Republicans on a path to increase poverty and keep their poorest and youngest residents hungry, homeless, and in ill-health. http://www.politicususa.com/2013/07/02/southern-states-pushing-deeper-poverty-voting-republican.html
Feb 20, 2014 12:18 PM CST
(R) 2016 Gov. RICK PERRY Report: Sure, those UAW hotshots have been hiding from the Detroit bankruptcy for a while, now they try to come back again. Just in case the Democrats controlled UAW block the Chattanooga, Tennessee plant, in order to perform Texas led by Conservative Republican Governor RICK PERRY governorship on his Number One #1 Global Economy state in the United States, the 2016 Presidential Hopeful Gov. RICK PERRY and Texan welcome Germany's Volkswagen will consider VW's NEW product(s) project and plant of assembly-lines to build in East Texas to choose the location SULPHUR SPRINGS, or TEXARKANA nearby border of Arkansas state. The East Texan residents and Texas Republican Party say Thank You to Germany's Volkswagen.
Feb 19, 2014 4:14 PM CST
VW is very angry with Corker and Republicans. Now Corker says that he's "pro union" not just pro UAW. The workers at VW might be voting a 2nd time because Corker tainted the process. People in Tenn. are furious with Corker's interference too. They know that VW helps stimulate the State's economy. If VW can't have unions then they should move to a State that wants them. There are plenty of States with unemployed former auto workers. Are Republicans going to make up laws to prevent VW from ever opening a plant on US soil?