Labor Pains: Because Being in a Union can be Painful

‘Sour Grapes’ As VW Workers Again Reject UAW

It’s the union that won’t take “NO” for an answer.

Five years after workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga said “no thanks” to representation by the UAW, the beleaguered union was once again rejected this week.

Shed a tear for the editors who had to scrap or rewrite pre-drafted editorials about labor’s new momentum in the south.

Regardless of whether you were pro- or anti-UAW, local news reports made clear it was impossible to miss the union’s message in Chattanooga. The union’s lavish spending on television, radio, digital and even gas station advertisements ensured that workers were well-educated on what they were voting for (or against) this week. A pro-union reporter even suggested that the city was “mobilized” in favor of the UAW.

With all of these advantages, the union still couldn’t gain majority support. If you thought the union might spend the morning in quiet reflection, you’d be wrong:

This is a classic case of sour grapes. The union’s real gripe here isn’t with US labor law; it’s that no one could help the UAW tilt the playing field to overcome its terrible reputation. The union has spent the last several years coping with a Justice Department investigation into corruption in its top ranks. (This investigation is apparently ongoing.) Add to that the guilty pleas from its top leaders, and multiple scandals over excess spending, and it’s no surprise that workers are skeptical of the union’s value proposition.

Even in Chattanooga, the UAW was its own worst enemy: An apparently UAW-approved “Center for VW Facts” smear campaign, run by UAW member Joe DiSano, was so distasteful that pro- and anti-UAW workers were united in opposition. Nice job, guys!

If the union’s leadership wants to know why autoworkers are rejecting UAW representation, they should start by looking in the mirror.


Categories: UAW