An update on the battle for an American labor movement in the 21st Century, being fought valiantly by UAW Local 42.
Growing up in a union family in Pittsburgh, I assumed that all Americans loved the unions for bringing good jobs to good folk. Just like, being raised in a liberal family I assumed all Americans wanted each day to see more civil rights extended to more good folk. Same as, being raised in a family that walked upright, I assumed all Americans just took it as a given that walking upright was beneficial for good folk. They are all equally obvious assumptions, right?
Clearly, since Reagan, we have learned that not all Americans think we should walk upright. Case in point: the Right's never-ending fight against having a union set foot in Tennessee:
DETROIT (Reuters) - Employees at the Volkswagen AG auto plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, are attempting to form a union that will include hourly and salaried workers as a counter to the United Auto Workers Local 42 established last month, a leading anti-UAW worker said on Tuesday.Actually this lede is a bold-faced lie. Employees at the VW plant are not "attempting to form a union ... as a counter to the United Auto Workers...". You might want to comment on Bernie Woodalls story here just to set the record straight. In fact Woodall spends the next four paragraphs detailing how this "union" is merely a sock puppet being designed from whole cloth by the same man who sabotaged the initial failed unionization vote early this year through fear and lies.
Mike Burton, who helped anti-UAW workers defeat the UAW's effort to represent VW Chattanooga hourly workers six months ago, told Reuters he hopes the new union will force VW to hold another vote to determine which one is favored by hourly employees.I bolded that line from the article because it should have been the lede of the article. This is hucksterism at the highest order by the highest of hucksters. Burton is a shark and clearly he collaborates intimately with GOP politicians as far up the food chain as TN-Sen Bob Corker who threatened that VW would pull factory jobs if a union were installed mere days before the aforementioned union vote. Within days after the vote VW intimated that Corker was completely out of bounds and that, in fact, they would be hard pressed to bring it's new van production to Tennessee in absence of labor representation. Thus UAW Local 42.
Burton said the proposed union local at Chattanooga will be the first chapter of what will be called the American Council of Employees. The new union will operate differently than the UAW, which he says hurts the competitiveness of unionized U.S. automakers.
Burton claims that since the February vote when the UAW lost by a 712-626 count, Volkswagen has drawn closer to that union, which is one of the main reasons he wants to create an alternative.
Burton said attorneys who helped him with an anti-UAW worker group called Southern Momentum during the February election at Chattanooga might help him with the ACE, but he did not elaborate.
Let's be totally clear: Local 42 was set up as a voluntary union within the VW plant to assuage VW that workers rights to organize would not be ignored. Tennessee Governor Haslam had clearly stated that state tax incentives that had been used to lure VW to TN in 2011 would be at jeopardy if the plant unionized. The UAW created Local 42 as much to bring good jobs and new product lines to Tennessee as to advance the labor cause.
(UAW Press Release) officials renewed requests for the State of Tennessee to extend the economic incentives necessary for Volkswagen to add a new product line at the Chattanooga plant, and said the union will continue advocating for increased investment. “State officials have assured the public and the Volkswagen workforce that the decision on incentives for Chattanooga is not related to whether workers exercise their right to join a union,” said Ray Curry, the newly elected director of UAW Region 8. “We are gratified by those assurances, and the state was right to give them.”And Local 42 has been a big success already after only 6 weeks in business.
UAW officials reiterated the reasoning for recently withdrawing objections to the February election at the plant, which was tainted by outside interference. “As Volkswagen’s works council partner, the UAW’s role is to encourage job creation and promote job security so that Volkswagen employees can achieve the American dream and Chattanooga’s economy can prosper,” Casteel said. “We withdrew objections to end the controversy and put the focus where it belongs: obtaining the economic incentives necessary to ensure the growth of Volkswagen in Chattanooga and the addition of a new product line.”
(Gary Casteel, secretary-treasurer of the UAW) said Local 42 continues to gain support and now has "substantially more than 700 members, so there are not many workers left for the anti-union union to pick up."At some point in the not-so-distant-future Tennesseans, and good folk throughout the South are going to realize that labor having a voice and some muscle is the key to good jobs that can support a family, expand rights to more people each day and yes, walking upright. Soon. Someday real soon.
He would not say whether Local 42 has more than 750 members, which would be a majority of hourly workers.