Last Friday, the United Auto Workers’ push to finally gain a foothold with a foreign-owned assembly plant in the South went devastatingly awry when the Volkswagon workers at the intended Chattanooga plant voted against joining the ranks of Big Labor. I’ll refer you to Jazz’s thorough rundown for more on that dramatic turn of events, but you know the UAW was never going to graciously bow out of this one. The union has been steadily declining in membership and influence — UAW workers assembled 5.91 million of the 10.9 million cars and trucks made in the U.S. in 2013, down from 10.8 million of the 12.6 million in 1999, according to Bloomberg — and they saw this as their big chance to start reinvigorating their dominion in the changing auto market.
Ergo, via Reuters:
The United Auto Workers filed an appeal with the U.S. government on Friday, asking it to set aside the results of an election last week where workers at a Tennessee Volkswagen plant voted not to join the union.
Citing what it called “interference by politicians and outside special interest groups,” the union said the U.S. National Labor Relations Board would investigate the election and decide if there are grounds to scrap it and hold a new one.
Labor lawyers and academics said last week it would be difficult for the union to make a case for setting aside the election. They said labor law does not limit what can be said in a union election campaign by politicians, as long as they are stating their own views and not doing the bidding of management.
They do say denial is the first stage of grieving. Over to George Will:
Sixty years ago, some 35 percent of the U.S. workforce was unionized, almost entirely in the private sector. Today, 11.3 percent is unionized . About half (49.6 percent) of this minority are government workers whose union dues do much to elect their employers. UAW membership has plummeted as far and fast as Detroit has — from 1.5 million in 1979 to about 380,000 in 2012. In 2011, UAW President Bob King said, “If we don’t organize these transnationals, I don’t think there’s a long-term future for the UAW.” …
It is commonly, and carelessly, said that Washington bailed out “the” automobile industry. Actually, government bailed out two of the three companies in one of the two U.S. auto industries — the UAW-organized one. The other industry, located in the South and elsewhere — Americans making 30 percent of the vehicles Americans purchase — did not need rescuing because it does not have a UAW presence, which helped ruin General Motors, Chrysler and their headquarters city, Detroit.