After workers at a Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga voted to reject a United Auto Workers contract, most friends of free labor breathed a sigh of relief, but a deal that gives German workers a seat on the VW board may threaten the Tennessee workers’ jobs:
A Volkswagen board member is threatening to withhold future investments in its Tennessee facility if the workers do not unionize, according to Reuters.
“I can imagine fairly well that another VW factory in theUnited States, provided that one more should still be set up there, does not necessarily have to be assigned to the south again,” said Bernd Osterloh, head of VW’s works council.
“If co-determination isn’t guaranteed in the first place, we as workers will hardly be able to vote in favor” of potentially building another plant in the U.S. south, Osterloh, who is also on VW’s supervisory board, said.
A bit more at the link.
This news falls with the predictable weight of another shoe dropping, but it’s interesting that it’s happening so fast, even as conservatives everywhere are still celebrating the successful intimidation of VW workers in Tennessee by local Republican politicians.
There is plenty of speculation as to why the workers rejected union representation, which could be anything from they saw just how wonderful things are in that union town of Detroit to the possibility that the UAW organizers were just not very good and urinated off a bunch of workers. But the left seem incapable of considering the possibility that a majority of the workers simply did not see United Auto Workers representation as being beneficial to them.
Or maybe it was something like this story from yesterday’s Philadelphia Inquirer:
10 leaders of Ironworkers Local 401 charged in racketeering indictment
By Jeremy Roebuck, Philadelphia Inquirer Staff Writer | Last updated: Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 1:08 AM | Posted: Tuesday, February 18, 2014, 11:48 AM
They called themselves “the Helpful Union Guys” – “THUGS” for short – and woe awaited any contractor who dared cross them by hiring non-organized workers.
For, federal authorities alleged Tuesday, this “goon squad” of members of Ironworkers Local 401 set fires, started riots, and took crowbars to the competition in an effort to protect union jobs.
FBI agents arrested 10 of the union’s leaders Tuesday morning, including longtime head Joseph Dougherty, in a racketeering conspiracy case that appeared to affirm long-standing business complaints over the tactics employed by Philadelphia unions.
Prosecutors alleged that Dougherty and others have cost contractors hundreds of thousands of dollars over at least three years, and were indiscriminate in choosing their targets – equally willing to break skulls with baseball bats at a Toys R Us work site in King of Prussia or torch a Quaker meetinghouse under construction in Chestnut Hill.
More at the link.
Now, it’s not exactly news that there has been union violence to try to protect jobs for union members only; it’s only news that someone might actually go to jail for it. But maybe, just maybe, the civilized workers in Tennessee — Tennessee is reliably Republican, which makes them, by definition, civilized — don’t want to be associated with that kind of stuff.
Or, perhaps, just perhaps, the workers realize what The First Street Journal has been saying all along, that unions in private sector companies have to be partners with their employers, trying to get what they can for their workers while still keeping the company profitable, and were just not confident that the United Auto Workers have had such a good record of doing that, considering the bailouts that General Motors and Chrysler required, and which Ford just barely avoided.
The First Street Journal absolutely supports the right of workers to form unions, but also believes that workers have an absolute right to decline to form a union, and that no worker should be compelled to join a union just to keep his job. The First Street Journal also believes that everyone bears the responsibility for his decisions, and workers who choose to unionize bear the responsibility for the actions of their union, even if that union winds up driving the company out of business. Given the record of private-sector unions in general recently, it’s not too difficult to see why the Volkswagen workers might not see union representation as a wise idea.