Death of a Union: The End of the United Auto Workers.

The United Auto Worker’s (UAW) Union, one of the largest and most historically significant unions in America, lost a critical unionization vote at a Tennessee Volkswagen plant. The vote, which took place last Friday, saw an imposing 712 employees vote “No” to joining the UAW as opposed to 626 who voted “Yes”.

As Fox News reports:

Workers at a Volkswagen factory in Tennessee have voted against union representation in a devastating defeat for the United Auto Workers union’s effort to make inroads in the South.

The 712-626 vote released late Friday was surprising for many labor experts and union supporters who expected a UAW win because Volkswagen tacitly endorsed the union and even allowed organizers into the Chattanooga factory to make sales pitches. “This is like an alternate universe where everything is turned upside down,” Cliff Hammond, a labor lawyer at in Detroit, noting that companies usually fight union drives.  “This vote was essentially gift-wrapped for the union by Volkswagen,” said Hammond, who previously worked at the Service Employees International Union.

The setback is a major defeat for the UAW’s effort to expand in the growing South, where foreign automakers have 14 assembly plants, eight built in the past decade… Organizing a Southern plant is so crucial to the union that UAW President Bob King told workers in a speech that the union has no long-term future without it.

“If the union can’t win [in Chattanooga], it can’t win anywhere,” Steve Silvia, a economics and trade professor at American University who has studied labor unions, told the Journal.

This is beyond a resounding defeat for the UAW. It is a death knell. Like the article mentions, all the components were in place. There were no shady back-room scandals or anti-union intimidation from the bosses. Heck, the VW executives were even mildly supportive of the initiative. Theoretically speaking, unionizing the plant should have been a gimme.

UAW leadership is clearly stunned. They thought it was a gimme. In an official post-vote statement, UAW Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Williams said this:

“While we’re outraged by politicians and outside special interest groups interfering with the basic legal right of workers to form a union, we’re proud that these workers were brave and stood up to the tremendous pressure from outside. We hope this will start a larger discussion about workers’ right to organize.”

UAW President Bob King blamed the Koch Brothers for ruining the union’s campaign. It is humorous. Whenever a left-wing activist heads up a failed campaign, it’s always somehow the Koch Brothers’ fault.

VW is a good company to work for. They pay well, and the benefits are generous. The workers know they have a good deal already. They likely viewed the entrance of the UAW as a potential boat-rocking risk against their jobs. Why take the risk, especially in this economy?

There was more to the issue than just boat-rocking, however. The spectre of Detroit has permanently marred the face of unionization in America. Anti-UAW campaigners in Chattanooga ran billboard ads like these:

I think that was a good decision for the anti-UAW campaign. Everybody knows that Detroit was union central for over 50 years. Nobody with credibility denies that the city of Detroit was in the pocket of the big unions for over 50 years. From the 1940s onward, Detroit was the crown jewel of left-wing politics in America. High taxes and oppressive regulations, all agitated for by the big unions, eventually killed the city. It has been a slow and agonizing death. The liberal media has tried to ignore Detroit’s decline, as it sends a clear historical message to everyone: “Progressive” politics kill. The UAW, which was practically a paramilitary of it’s own in the mid-century, had an enormous hand in Detroit’s miserable descent into Third-world status.

I am hereby declaring the United Auto Workers clinically dead. The UAW lives on only as a ghost of it’s former self, haunting the ruins of Detroit forevermore.









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