A Union Suitor Spurned–VW to UAW: So Long Partner?

Talking Union

by Steve Early

Steve Early Steve Early

Most progressive media commentary on the United Auto Workers’ defeat last week in a key Volkswagen (VW) plant election has focused, understandably, on the role of outside union-bashers, the anti-union culture of the south, or the unfavorable racial composition of the company’s Chattanooga, TN. workforce. (See, for example, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-cohen/senator-corker-must-be-he_b_4800269.html or http://prospect.org/article/when-culture-eclipses-class)

Pursuant to negotiations with the UAW and its German union ally, IG Metall, Volkswagen agreed not to campaign against unionization in a blue-collar unit of 1,500. UAW organizers got highly unusual access to the plant to make their case at several hour-long shift meetings and in any one-on-one conversations that VW employees wanted to initiate in a specially designated room or other non-work areas just prior to the vote. The only limit on UAW communication was a legal pledge not to visit employees, uninvited, at home, and to keep any written comments about…

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