UAW Fails to Organize Tenn. VW Plant; AP Report Calls Loss 'Devastating,' Highlights Excuses

Late news out of Chattanooga, Tennessee Friday night was that workers at that area's Volkswagen plant rejected representation by the United Auto Workers union.

The opening paragraph at the 11:17 p.m. story filed by Tom Krisher and Erik Schelzig at the Associated Press, both of whom are more than likely members of the News Media Guild, calls the result "devastating." Later paragraphs imply political tampering, and indicate that the union is considering doing what leftist losers routinely do — try to get the result overturned with government help. Excerpts follow the jump (bolds are mine throughout this post):


VW WORKERS AT TENNESSEE PLANT REJECT UNION

VWchattanooga

Workers at a Volkswagen factory in Tennessee have voted against union representation, a devastating loss that derails the United Auto Workers union's effort to organize Southern factories.

The 712-626 vote released late Friday stunned many labor experts who expected a UAW win because Volkswagen tacitly endorsed the union and even allowed organizers into the Chattanooga factory to make sales pitches.

But the union faced stern opposition from Republican politicians who warned that a union win would chase away other automakers who might come to the region. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee was the most vocal opponent, saying that he was told that VW would not build a new SUV in Chattanooga if workers approved the union. That was later denied by a VW executive in Tennessee.

The UAW for decades has tried without success to organize a foreign-owned plant in a region that's wary of organized labor. The loss now makes it even harder for the union to recruit members at another Southern factory, a key priority of outgoing UAW President Bob King. He has said in the past that the union has no long-term future if it can't organize the Southern plants.

... Gary Casteel, a UAW regional director who headed organizing efforts at the plant, hinted that the union may challenge the election results with the National Labor Relations Board.

"We think that it's unfortunate that there was some outside influence exerted into this process," Casteel said Friday night. "There are still some issues that have to be sorted out about this election, and we'll let the people that do that evaluate the impact of others and whatnot further down the road."

... Many viewed VW as the union's only chance to gain a crucial foothold in the South because other automakers have not been as welcoming as Volkswagen. The vote means the union may be quarantined to its base with the Detroit Three automakers in the Industrial Midwest and Northeast.

King, however, stuck to statements he made earlier that the union would seek a vote and respect any decision made by workers.

A Reuters report by Bernie Woodall two days ago seemed designed to lay the groundwork for an attempted appeal of the election result:

UPDATE 1-U.S. senator drops bombshell during VW plant union vote

U.S. Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said on Wednesday he has been "assured" that if workers at the Volkswagen AG plant in his hometown of Chattanooga reject United Auto Worker representation, the company will reward the plant with a new product to build.

... National Labor Relations Board expert Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt, who is professor of labor at the University of Indiana-Bloomington, said Corker was trying to intimidate workers into voting against the union.

"I'm really kind of shocked at Corker's statement," said Dau-Schmidt. "It's so inconsistent with what VW has been saying and VW's labor relations policy in general."

The Indiana professor also said Corker's comments "would be grounds to set the election aside and have to run it all over again at a later date" because it could be ruled to be interfering to the point that it is against federal labor law.

... Another labor expert, Harley Shaiken of the University of California-Berkeley, said, "The senator's comments amount to economic intimidation that undermines the whole nature of union representation elections."

Shaiken often advises UAW officials.

"If the senator's statement doesn't violate the letter of the law, it certainly violates the spirit of the law," Shaiken said.

That last sentence looks like the whine of someone who knows his cause has been defeated. But we'll see.

Left unaddressed, if Corker's statement is true, is why he shouldn't be allowed to say it.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.