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Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

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  • Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

    Volkswagen employees give the UAW Das Boot in Tennessee

    (CNN) -- Union organizers in the South suffered a setback Friday when workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, voted against being represented by the United Auto Workers.
    The vote was 712 against the union and 626 in favor. There are about 1,550 hourly workers at the plant who were eligible to vote.
    The vote was seen as the UAW's best chance to organize a nonunion auto plant, because Volkswagen management did not oppose the effort.
    "We commend Volkswagen for...trying to provide an atmosphere of freedom to make a decision," said UAW Region 8 Director Gary Casteel, who directs the union's Southern organizing. "Unfortunately, politically motivated third parties threatened the economic future of this facility."
    Good for the VW workers for putting their pride in their work instead of themselves. In so doing they acknowledge that no matter how good their product is, it won't do them a damn bit of good if the general public can't afford to buy it, and go a long way in making sure they have stable employment for decades to come.
    Last edited by Commodore; 02-14-2014, 10:43 PM.

  • #2
    Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

    I work UPS during holidays in Nashville, TN. They're union but Tennessee is right-to-work. As it's explained to me every year, I'm subject union rules in all things (pay, hours, eligibility for benefits), promotions are all based on seniority, and while I am always protected my the union, I don't actually have to join, I just can't vote for representatives if I don't pay dues.

    i never join, but I suppose I ultimately respect the right of the long term employees to decide union representation is best. Good on VW for not opposing it, and I hope the plant employees have ultimately chosen a path that's in their best interest.

    ?


    • #3
      Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

      Well, to tell the whole story : Volkswagen, like other german companies, uses a german style "workers council/workers co-determination" system also in its plants worldwide, and would have SUPPORTED the creation of one at Chattanooga.


      Works councils are standard in German workplaces—almost all other Volkswagen facilities around the world have one. In the U.S., however, it appears to many labor-law experts that they can only be implemented legally if workers are represented by an outside union.

      Since both Volkswagen and IG Metall have expressed a strong desire to have a works council in Chattanooga, the auto maker chose to work with the UAW. In addition to letting union representatives into the plant, Volkswagen kept members of management from expressing any views on the vote, and agreed to coordinate its public statements with the union during the election campaign.

      "This vote was essentially gift-wrapped for the union by Volkswagen," Mr. Hammond, the labor lawyer, said.

      The chief executive of the plant, Frank Fischer, said in a statement that Volkswagen will continue to search for a method of establishing a works council.


      http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/...226307368.html


      German management isnt opposed to unions, they are used to work with unions ( and hardly need lessons in productivity). German workers representatives sit on the board of directors of companies, co-determine the course of the company by hammering out cooperative labour models that both sides can live with, and collaborative labour-management relations are across the board credited as a main reason why Germany has been able to keep productivity up, unemployment down and to sail through the 2008 meltdown smoothly (while expanding, not loosing manufacturing). In spite of plenty of doom claims from the US ( f.e. from the Krugman corner, for lack of stimulus spending). The idea that labour and management necessarily had adversarial interests has Germans scratiching their heads. Seriously :

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matt-b...b_1184104.html


      For one, the interest of labor and business are not always irreconcilable. When it comes to labor relations, German law obliges the creation of works councils. These are fora that bring labor and management together, facilitating information sharing within a firm, providing an opportunity to resolve differences collaboratively. They also help generate a shared sense of purpose within the firm. Union representatives also sit on the supervisory boards of major German companies. As part of a culture of co-determination, both labor and management steer the future of the company, and are commonly prepared to make shared sacrifices.

      Second, strategic government intervention works. In Germany, collaborative policy-making extends beyond this institutionalized social partnership within firms to generic relations between government, private sector and labor -- as Andy Stern has noted. The recent German experiment with "worksharing" - credited by some with saving almost two million jobs during the current global recession - speaks well to his experience. When the recession hit, government not only worked in partnership with the private sector to subsidize vulnerable employment, it also undertook a massive information campaign to ensure labor and management were informed of the policy. Once implemented, Olaf Scholz, then Minister of Labor, held regular meetings with Dax 30 companies and major unions, to both evaluate the current policy and improve its future usability and effectiveness. The results speak for themselves.



      http://www.americanprogress.org/issu...trong-economy/

      German unions are partners for businesses and through effective co-management in the form of legally secured co-determination, they have a say in developing long-term strategies for economic success for both businesses and workers. That leads to a sense of shared responsibility.
      That does not mean that German unions do not represent the interests of their workers. They do, but they do more than that: Unions also look at the economic needs of the company understanding that a healthy private sector is also good for workers, and when workers and businesses work together, it fuels a healthy economy and society.
      This cooperative approach paid off in the recent economic and financial crises, too. Thanks to close consultation between employers, employees, and political actors, German companies were able to keep their workforce. Workers accepted pay cuts and shortened working-time arrangements, but due to flexible work accounts and government co-funding, the negative effects were absorbed to a large degree. Safeguarding jobs also helped businesses save costs on rehiring and retraining. When the economy picked up again, German companies had a skilled and motivated workforce in place to take advantage of rising demand.

      ?


      • #4
        Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

        Originally posted by Voland View Post
        Well, to tell the whole story : Volkswagen, like other german companies, uses a german style "workers council/workers co-determination" system also in its plants worldwide, and would have SUPPORTED the creation of one at Chattanooga.


        Works councils are standard in German workplaces—almost all other Volkswagen facilities around the world have one. In the U.S., however, it appears to many labor-law experts that they can only be implemented legally if workers are represented by an outside union.

        Since both Volkswagen and IG Metall have expressed a strong desire to have a works council in Chattanooga, the auto maker chose to work with the UAW. In addition to letting union representatives into the plant, Volkswagen kept members of management from expressing any views on the vote, and agreed to coordinate its public statements with the union during the election campaign.

        "This vote was essentially gift-wrapped for the union by Volkswagen," Mr. Hammond, the labor lawyer, said.

        The chief executive of the plant, Frank Fischer, said in a statement that Volkswagen will continue to search for a method of establishing a works council.


        VW Workers in Chattanooga Reject Auto Workers Union - WSJ.com


        German management isnt opposed to unions, they are used to work with unions ( and hardly need lessons in productivity). German workers representatives sit on the board of directors of companies, co-determine the course of the company by hammering out cooperative labour models that both sides can live with, and collaborative labour-management relations are across the board credited as a main reason why Germany has been able to keep productivity up, unemployment down and to sail through the 2008 meltdown smoothly (while expanding, not loosing manufacturing). In spite of plenty of doom claims from the US ( f.e. from the Krugman corner, for lack of stimulus spending). The idea that labour and management necessarily had adversarial interests has Germans scratiching their heads. Seriously :

        Matt Browne: Can America Emulate Germany's Economic Success?


        For one, the interest of labor and business are not always irreconcilable. When it comes to labor relations, German law obliges the creation of works councils. These are fora that bring labor and management together, facilitating information sharing within a firm, providing an opportunity to resolve differences collaboratively. They also help generate a shared sense of purpose within the firm. Union representatives also sit on the supervisory boards of major German companies. As part of a culture of co-determination, both labor and management steer the future of the company, and are commonly prepared to make shared sacrifices.

        Second, strategic government intervention works. In Germany, collaborative policy-making extends beyond this institutionalized social partnership within firms to generic relations between government, private sector and labor -- as Andy Stern has noted. The recent German experiment with "worksharing" - credited by some with saving almost two million jobs during the current global recession - speaks well to his experience. When the recession hit, government not only worked in partnership with the private sector to subsidize vulnerable employment, it also undertook a massive information campaign to ensure labor and management were informed of the policy. Once implemented, Olaf Scholz, then Minister of Labor, held regular meetings with Dax 30 companies and major unions, to both evaluate the current policy and improve its future usability and effectiveness. The results speak for themselves.



        Germany’s Lessons for a Strong Economy | Center for American Progress

        German unions are partners for businesses and through effective co-management in the form of legally secured co-determination, they have a say in developing long-term strategies for economic success for both businesses and workers. That leads to a sense of shared responsibility.
        That does not mean that German unions do not represent the interests of their workers. They do, but they do more than that: Unions also look at the economic needs of the company understanding that a healthy private sector is also good for workers, and when workers and businesses work together, it fuels a healthy economy and society.
        This cooperative approach paid off in the recent economic and financial crises, too. Thanks to close consultation between employers, employees, and political actors, German companies were able to keep their workforce. Workers accepted pay cuts and shortened working-time arrangements, but due to flexible work accounts and government co-funding, the negative effects were absorbed to a large degree. Safeguarding jobs also helped businesses save costs on rehiring and retraining. When the economy picked up again, German companies had a skilled and motivated workforce in place to take advantage of rising demand.
        But they don't need the UAW to do that. Unions coming to these companies in the South would result in another rust belt and cities like Detroit.

        ?


        • #5
          Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

          Originally posted by Voland View Post
          Well, to tell the whole story : Volkswagen, like other german companies, uses a german style "workers council/workers co-determination" system also in its plants worldwide, and would have SUPPORTED the creation of one at Chattanooga.
          I think it's insightful that Mr. Ghasemi understands collective bargaining & the role of unions are different in the 2 Countries & identifies the underlying reasons why this is so:

          Ghasemi knows that collective bargaining and the role of unions are different in Germany. And the company’s relationship with unions in the United States is less cooperative. In his view this has to do with differences in the U.S. labor law and different experiences. The extreme elements become strong in disputes and he identifies “war” between management and unions as the fundamental problem.
          He also notes the relationship between the trend towards the weakening role of unions in the US & the eroding middle class in the US:

          In Ghasemi’s view the weak role of trade unions in the United States also has to do with the eroding middle class. The basis for the “old,” strong middle class were manufacturing jobs that allowed workers to build a career over several decades. What was important was not only the income and the sharing of productivity gains but also job security and economic mobility—the notion that if you work hard, you will be able to create a better life for yourself and your family.

          People built their lives on secure income and jobs, something that has been lost in the past two decades. The composition of the U.S. economy and the large size of the service sector that accounts for many insecure and lower-wage jobs is part of the problem. To rebuild a strong middle class, the United States needs an advanced manufacturing sector and that sector requires strong unions. It is not employers or companies that create jobs, Ghasemi emphasized, but the consumers that ultimately drive economies. If workers don’t have jobs, they won’t consume, and if they don’t consume, this will hurt the private sector and the economy.
          There are some here in US who don't see a decline in the middle class, despite the stagnant wages for the past 30 - 40 years. There are some who see employers or corporations as the only 'job creators.'

          In the long run, in a healthy economy, it's the consumers who create jobs.

          ?


          • #6
            Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

            Originally posted by Quinn View Post
            I think it's insightful that Mr. Ghasemi understands collective bargaining & the role of unions are different in the 2 Countries & identifies the underlying reasons why this is so:



            He also notes the relationship between the trend towards the weakening role of unions in the US & the eroding middle class in the US:



            There are some here in US who don't see a decline in the middle class, despite the stagnant wages for the past 30 - 40 years. There are some who see employers or corporations as the only 'job creators.'

            In the long run, in a healthy economy, it's the consumers who create jobs.
            The problem with unions is that they create a false economy for a small group of people. Elevate the wages of these auto workers and it just makes them richer than their neighbors. It raises the price of cars for their neighbors and actually hurts more people than it helps.

            ?


            • #7
              Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

              It's worse than you know...

              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.

              “If they can’t win this one, what can they win?” asked Art Schwartz, a former General Motors labor negotiator who now is a consultant in Ann Arbor, Mich.

              UAW President Bob King, in a 2011 speech to workers, said the union has no long-term future if it can’t organize the Southern plants.
              As far as a German styled Workers Council... I think everyone at that plant knew that the UAW would not be that kind of union, and would be a overall determent to both the workers and the company.

              Way to go VW workers!

              United Auto Workers Union Stunned by Devastating Defeat in Tennessee | TheBlaze.com

              ?


              • #8
                Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

                Originally posted by OldmanDan View Post
                The problem with unions is that they create a false economy for a small group of people. Elevate the wages of these auto workers and it just makes them richer than their neighbors. It raises the price of cars for their neighbors and actually hurts more people than it helps.
                Not in Germany though.

                ?


                • #9
                  Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

                  Originally posted by Quinn View Post
                  Not in Germany though.
                  What makes you think that?

                  ?


                  • #10
                    Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

                    Originally posted by OldmanDan View Post
                    The problem with unions is that they create a false economy for a small group of people. Elevate the wages of these auto workers and it just makes them richer than their neighbors. It raises the price of cars for their neighbors and actually hurts more people than it helps.
                    Unions can play very different roles in different societies and under various brands of capitalism (examples : Post Nr.3)
                    The management of Volkswagen doesnt consist of imbecile crypto-communists. They are using this system in their plants around the world and more extensively in their plants in Germany ( like other german companies as well, f.e. BMW or Daimler), they have been using it for generations and they are highly profitable ( you can easily check how Volkswagen compares to its american competitors). The reason for that is a philosophical and cultural difference. Germans are actually convinced that an INCLUSIVE, partner-like system of labour relations is a valuable asset that in the long run always helps the company and the overall economy (if properly implemented, reasons again in post 3).
                    Wether the political and cultural foundations are actually there in the US to establish a german style collaborative business model may be a separate debate. That doesnt change the fact that VW wasnt opposed to unionization. And that the Chattonooga plant is the only one run by VW without a workers council on the globe. Wether that actually helps the workers remains to be seen.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

                      Originally posted by Voland View Post
                      Unions can play very different roles in different societies and under various brands of capitalism (examples : Post Nr.3)
                      The management of Volkswagen doesnt consist of imbecile crypto-communists. They are using this system in their plants around the world and more extensively in their plants in Germany ( like other german companies as well, f.e. BMW or Daimler), they have been using it for generations and they are highly profitable ( you can easily check how Volkswagen compares to its american competitors). The reason for that is a philosophical and cultural difference. Germans are actually convinced that an INCLUSIVE, partner-like system of labour relations is a valuable asset that in the long run always helps the company and the overall economy (if properly implemented, reasons again in post 3).
                      Wether the political and cultural foundations are actually there in the US to establish a german style collaborative business model may be a separate debate. That doesnt change the fact that VW wasnt opposed to unionization. And that the Chattonooga plant is the only one run by VW without a workers council on the globe. Wether that actually helps the workers remains to be seen.
                      And nothing stops VW from establishing a worker's council if they so wish. Do these worker's councils in Germany take the workers out on strike until their demands are met?

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                      • #12
                        Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

                        Originally posted by Voland View Post
                        Unions can play very different roles in different societies and under various brands of capitalism (examples : Post Nr.3)
                        The management of Volkswagen doesnt consist of imbecile crypto-communists. They are using this system in their plants around the world and more extensively in their plants in Germany ( like other german companies as well, f.e. BMW or Daimler), they have been using it for generations and they are highly profitable ( you can easily check how Volkswagen compares to its american competitors). The reason for that is a philosophical and cultural difference. Germans are actually convinced that an INCLUSIVE, partner-like system of labour relations is a valuable asset that in the long run always helps the company and the overall economy (if properly implemented, reasons again in post 3).
                        Wether the political and cultural foundations are actually there in the US to establish a german style collaborative business model may be a separate debate. That doesnt change the fact that VW wasnt opposed to unionization. And that the Chattonooga plant is the only one run by VW without a workers council on the globe. Wether that actually helps the workers remains to be seen.
                        You do understand that this productive relationship does not now (nor ever has) exist in this nation, right?

                        That works well in Germany... that might work well here were it tried... but that is not what the UAW is, nor what they would be.

                        GM tried something like that in their Saturn Division. Made great cars... made in well run fixable factories, filled with happy workers that were paid bonuses for meeting goals...

                        The UAW hated it and killed it off as soon as they could.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

                          Originally posted by OldmanDan View Post
                          And nothing stops VW from establishing a worker's council if they so wish. Do these worker's councils in Germany take the workers out on strike until their demands are met?
                          Nope, under american law they apparently first need to hold a union vote. The result now means that they wont be able to :

                          All eyes on Chattanooga: VW’s workers are deciding the future of unions in the South

                          For their part, Volkswagen executives are lying low and claiming neutrality. They acknowledge their desire for a works council, arguing that their model of labor-management relations serves them well in every other country in the world, except China. Under U.S. law, the company cannot set up a works council without first having its employees vote for a union.

                          Strikes are actually a rare phenomenon in Germany. The reason for that is co-determination that creates a shared sense of purpose (ensuring company success). In case you didnt bother to read the links under post 3, you could also check here :

                          German lessons: Co-determination and employees on boards - IPA


                          Unsurprisingly, the employee directors were enthusiastic about their input at the highest level of German companies. Worker and Trade Union representatives at Volkswagen felt that during the financial crisis, they had encouraged a long-term perspective, because their interests were most closely aligned with the company’s long-term success – they want to see good quality jobs maintained into the future. The supervisory board ensured that Volkswagen focused on protecting jobs, reaching an agreement with the workforce to reduce working hours, but avoiding layoffs. As the economy recovered, existing workers were able to increase their hours, saving the company money on training and recruitment costs......It was interesting to note that interviewees from a management background were equally supportive of worker representation on boards. Christoph Danzer-Vanotti, non-executive director at Deutsche Bahn and former senior manager at E.On, claimed the system works as a communication channel both from workers to management and vice versa. Unions and workers’ representatives reach a consensus with management. They must then share responsibility for the decision and sell it to the workforce. This leads to a much less adversarial model of industrial relations than he had experienced while working in the UK for E.ON.

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                          • #14
                            Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

                            Originally posted by tsquare View Post
                            You do understand that this productive relationship does not now (nor ever has) exist in this nation, right?
                            I think I expressed understanding for that point in my post. But that is an entirely different debate than wether non-unionization is necessarily a competitive advantage.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Tennessee Autoworkers organize, defeat UAW

                              All you have to do is google "UAW pension underfunded" and you will find all you need to on why the UAW is after as many foreign car companies manufacturing cars here in the US as possible. The articles might be a bit old but it is not likely that conditions have improved all that much in that the UAW needs to find roughly $20 billion. It makes sense to go after new members to increase the ratio of those paying in to those paid out. It makes the UAW no different than any other large politically tied union in that there is a constant drive for new members else the pension plans all become insolvent.

                              Congrats to the "Tennessee Autoworkers" for balking at the UAW at VW.

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