The long awaited and well publicized vote to accept or reject unionization at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant took place Friday. The workers rejected representation from the United Auto Workers (UAW) by a 712-626 vote. The results of the vote were made public today and now the legal wranglings begin.
Gary Casteel of the UAW urged employees to, "Go back to building cars." He stated, "There are some issues still to be sorted out about this election."
The issues Casteel is referring to was the overreach of politicians in the state that were either outright lies or an attempt to bully the employees of Volkswagen into rejecting the overtures of the UAW. Volkswagen executives went on record stating that they have no problem with a unionized workforce because the other 61 facilities they operate are unionized.
The most vocal and outspoken opponent of the Chattanooga plant becoming unionized was U.S. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN). According to Casteel, Corker and other Tennessee Republicans abused their powers by stating that they had inside information that if the employees rejected the union, the Chattanooga plant would get a second assembly line to produce the companies new crossover SUV at their facility. Volkswagen stated in USA Today in November 2013 that the vote either for or against the union would not affect their plans in the U.S.
Union officials are asserting that the actions of the Tennessee politicians in essence bullied the employees into rejecting union representation. Tennessee not only is a "Red" state, it is also a "Right to Work" state. With all the efforts that have been put into demonizing unions in this country, Tennessee Republicans were not about to allow the results of the vote on Friday to be left solely to the employees.
President Obama took notice of the importance of the vote during a stop in Cambridge, MD on yesterday. According to a report in Reuters the president said:
A Democratic aide said that Obama, speaking during a closed meeting with U.S. House of Representatives Democrats, said everyone is in favor of the United Auto Workers representing Volkswagen workers except for local politicians who "are more concerned about German shareholders than American workers."
It's no secret that Barack ran against John McCain advocating the "Employee Free Choice Act." That bill was introduced in 2009 and died in Congress. Not only did the bill die but Republican governors and lawmaker have worked diligently to make every state in the union a "Right to Work" state.
One good example of this type of union busting is the recent move by Boeing to Charleston, SC. Boeing has been producing airplanes in the state of Washington for over 90 years with union workers. In an effort to boost their profits and not be subject to union demands they started producing planes in South Carolina. According to Boeing employees in Washington, the components produced in South Carolina are arriving in Washington below standards and have to be reworked before they can be installed in the final assembly. The workers in South Carolina are paid much less than the workers in Washington and have minimal experience in performing the work that is required of them. Boeing is therefore losing money because of the sub-par components received from the South Carolina facility.
While in Chattanooga on yesterday I had an opportunity to interview a former employee of the Chattanooga VW plant.
James E. Jones stated:
"I only worked there for one day. After that first day I was so tired I wasn't able to go back. They worked me so hard I wasn't able to get out of bed the next day. The supervisors wouldn't let you sit down to take a break. You had to be on you feet the entire time you were at work."
His Wife Vickie Jones added:
"I made him quit because I want my husband alive and not worked to death."
Whether you are for or against unions is a matter of choice. But the employees should be allowed to have some input into improving their working environment. This negotiations of working conditions should be a matter between the employees and management. But the vote in Chattanooga has bought this type of negotiation into the political arena. And now the question must be answered, "Who's lying, Volkswagen or Tennessee politicians."
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