Labor Watch

Democracy in peril in Chattanooga

Former Capital Research Center senior editor Matt Patterson has a powerful op-ed about Volkswagen’s ongoing betrayal of its own workers in Chattanooga.

Chattanooga’s Volkswagen workers were given the opportunity to vote on United Auto Workers (UAW) representation.

They declined representation, 712-626, in an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

One would think this would have settled the matter. But not quite. Even as you read these words, the union is petitioning the government to overturn the election, while Volkswagen management is looking at every avenue that would allow them to accept the union in spite of the express wishes of their employees.

Let’s be clear about what this means: An election is in danger of being overturned through bureaucratic fiat in the United States of America.

And on what grounds is the union petitioning Obama’s labor authorities to trample democracy? Because, union reps claim, “outsiders” influenced the election. Outsiders like Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Gov. Bill Haslam who dared weigh in on a subject of great import to their constituents.

This “outsider” charge is a laughable pretext through which the union is venting its true totalitarian colors. And it is not even true.

Sen. Corker was recently mayor of Chattanooga and is still a resident. Gov. Haslam and members of the legislature are charged with representing all the people of Tennessee, including Chattanoogans.

Meanwhile the UAW hails from Detroit, the town it bought, owned, bankrupted and still controls. The union infiltrated Chattanooga with the help of Obama’s NLRB and the IG Metall, the German union that pulls VW’s corporate strings back in Germany.

Outsiders? The UAW is the first and biggest outsider in this fight.

How dare this destructive union come from Detroit and demand that Tennessee politicians shut their mouths? How dare they claim to speak for workers while actively seeking to shut down the loud and clear message of Volkswagen employees?

They couldn’t care less about what workers want. Unions in general, and the UAW in particular, actively oppose any measure that gives workers more freedom in the labor market. They fight right-to-work laws, which give employees the option to opt out of union dues. Why would unions oppose this? Because unions care more about dues than the freedom and rights of workers.

Choice, freedom of speech, freedom of association — the UAW’s actions both before and after February’s election show them to be actively hostile to these precious principles.

And what of Volkswagen? This week the Center for Worker Freedom Reported that Volkswagen management is considering handing over its Chattanooga assembly plant to the UAW in spite of the February election results. Sources tell CWF that the company is considering accepting the authorization cards the union claims to have collected last year, even though the alleged cards have never been examined by a third party, and a number of VW workers have complained to labor authorities that they had been tricked or coerced into signing such cards.

But in spite of the company, the union and the government all conspiring to thwart their desire to remain UAW-free, the workers are not without recourse. Tennessee is a right-to-work state. If the union gets in, every worker who wants to opt out of paying dues can and should do so. And just because a union gets in doesn’t mean it must remain in forever; workers can decertify a union in an election process not dissimilar to a secret ballot election.

And the community is not without power either. Everyone in Chattanooga — everyone in Tennessee — should call the UAW region 8 office in Lebanon, Tenn. Ask for Gary Casteel and ask him why his organization doesn’t respect the democratic process.

Matt Patterson is executive director, Center for Worker Freedom, at Americans for Tax Reform. [email protected].

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