More than 1,550 workers at a Volkswagen manufacturing plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee will begin voting today to decide whether they will join the United Auto Workers union for representation through a works council.
Meanwhile, the National Labor Relations Board three-day election at VW’s only non-unionized plant has sparked opposition in Tennessee, a right to work state – particularly among the plant’s workers. The UAW’s current efforts are said to be an attempt to reverse ongoing membership losses, and a collection of VW workers’ testimonials captured on video advise against the move.
“If the UAW comes in . . . there’s a potential for losing jobs,” one employee noted. Another worker highlighted the potential negative impact on job opportunities in Tennessee, citing competition as “the only true equalizer” for fair wages.
“We’ve made an award-winning car on our own, with the current leadership that Volkswagen has provided,” a worker said. “We did not need the UAW.”
Tennessee State Senator Bo Watson said during a news conference that if the plant votes to unionize, “any additional incentives from the citizens of the state of Tennessee for expansion or otherwise will have a very tough time passing the Tennessee Senate.”
Rep. Sherry Jones (D-Nashville) responded: “We should all reject the type of scare tactics and misinformation coming from special interest groups and Republican elected officials.”
The Heritage Foundation’s Senior Policy Analyst James Sherk explained that “German law requires ‘works councils’ in which management and labor groups meet to collaboratively sort out workplace issues.” He warned, “If the union used its power as a cartel to raise wages too much, it would make Volkswagen’s cars less competitive and put their jobs at risk.”
Sherk referenced an anecdote in which a VW plant in Pennsylvania shut down ten years after the UAW organized the plant. “Almost immediately, the workers went on strike,” Sherk said, and eventually “[a]ll the union members lost their jobs.”
This story was produced by The Foundry’s news team. Nothing here should be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of The Heritage Foundation.