The United Auto Workers union is trying to organize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The workers at the plant will decide for themselves whether they want to be represented by the UAW, and certainly WorkplaceChoice supports freedom of association.
The citizens of Chattanooga should know that if the plant workers decide to unionize, the consequences could be devastating — for the plant, the town, and indeed all of Tennessee. The United Auto Workers union has a history of saddling companies — and entire industries — with job-killing costs and red tape.
WorkplaceChoice will have a presence in Chattanooga all summer long in an effort to educate business leaders, politicians, and concerned citizens about the history, tactics, and legacy of this powerful union.
What is the UAW?
The UAW is a labor union headed by Bob King. According to its own website, ”the UAW has more than 390,000 active members and more than 600,000 retired members…” Though famous for representing workers in America’s auto industry, especially in Detroit, the UAW also represents workers in a variety of other fields, including agriculture and aerospace.
The UAW has been losing members consistently since the apex of its power in 1979. It is now looking to organize foreign-owned plants in an attempt to reverse its decline. So far it has been unsuccessful, such as in Canton, Mississippi where it has repeatedly failed to organize a Nissan plant since 2005.
There is a reason that workers in southern, foreign-owned plants have thus far rebuked the overbearing overtures of the UAW: The union has a history of bankrupting the plants, companies and industries that it embraces. The Big Three automakers in Detroit are shadows of their former glory, thanks in large part to the crippling effects of UAW-domination of their businesses. The UAW also had a hand in the demise of Packard (abandoned Packard plant pictured right), which once dominated the luxury car industry in the U.S.
In fact, foreign-owned companies like Volkswagen and Toyota have set up shop in southern right-to-work states precisely because unions in general — and the UAW in particular — have less power and influence in the region.
In short, no one in the South looks to Detroit’s decimated industry and thinks, “yeah, I gotta get me some of that!”
Chattanooga’s Volkswagen plant represents the latest — and perhaps best — opportunity for the UAW to get a foothold in the South. Its very survival is at stake.
Truth and Consequences
But so is the survival of Chattanooga.
The Volkswagen plant, which has employed thousands since it opened in 2011 and pumped millions of dollars into the local economy, has served as a shield for Chattanooga, protecting it from the worst ravages of the Great Recession. The long and sordid history of the UAW suggests that unionization of the VW plant would drive up costs and regulations, making the plant less productive and less profitable.
A plant that is less productive or profitable, needless to say, will offer fewer jobs, if it remains in operation at all.
But don’t take our word for it. The UAW has organized a VW plant once before, the Westmoreland Assembly Plant near New Stanton, PA. The UAW led strike after strike at the Westmoreland facility — within its first 20 months of operation, unionized workers walked off the job on 6 separate occasions, agitating for higher wages. Thanks in part to the continued and costly impositions of the UAW, the plant shut down in 1988, leaving the town economically and psychologically devastated.
Read the full, sad story of the VW Westmoreland experience here.
What You Can Do
Get educated. Get the facts about the UAW and the economic impact of unionization. On this page interested readers will find a variety of materials to help Chattanoogans understand this crucial and complicated issue.
First, as a handy introductory resource for journalists and researchers, here is the first in a series of one-sheets dispelling some myths about UAW representation.
Here is the slideshow Matt Patterson used for his presentation at the public event hosted by Citizens for Free Markets in Chattanooga on July 18, 2013.
And here’s a handy pamphlet WorkplaceChoice will be handing out at public events in Chattanooga all summer. Here’s a PDF version you can print out for yourself.
If you are in Chattanooga, be sure and check out our ginormous billboard at 4120 Jersey Pike, Chattanooga, TN 37421 on highway 153 (at Brach Candy). Here is a photo:
Articles authored by the WPC crew:
Matt Patterson and Julia Tavlas for National Review Online, July 25, 2013: “Empire of Rust: How the UAW Killed Detroit.”
For the Chattanooga Times-Free Press, By WPC’s Matt Patterson and Julia Tavlas on June 28, 2013: UAW ate Detroit: Chattanooga Could Be Its Next Meal
Here’s a column by WPC’s Matt Patterson and Julia Tavlas that appeared in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press on April 20, 2013: VW on radar: UAW chief sets sights on Southern automakers
And here’s another offering from the same Matt Patterson and Julia Tavlas in Forbes from April 16, 2013: The UAW, Having Stripped Detroit Bare, Looks To The South
Videos featuring the WPC crew:
Public forum featuring WPC’s Matt Patterson covered in Chattanooga Times-Free Press video on July 19, 2013: “Chattanooga Update: What You Need to Know Today”
Video and story featuring WPC’s Matt Patterson on the ABC affiliate WTVC News Channel 9 on July 18, 2013: “Meeting to Consider Unionizing Volkswagen Plant”
Video featuring WPC’s Matt Patterson on CBS affiliate WDEF-12 news channel on July 18, 2013
Watch WPC’s Matt Patterson interview for the ABC affiliate WTVC News Channel 9 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, July 9, 2013. “Should Volkswagen Unionize In Chattanooga?”
Articles quoting/citing the WPC crew:
WPC’s Matt Patterson quoted in Times-Free Press‘ coverage of the Citizens for Free Markets public event, July 19, 2013: “UAW Slammed At Forum on Labor Organization Efforts at Chattanooga’s Volkswagen Factory,” also appeared on NBCnews.com
WPC’s Matt Patterson cited in Nooga.com on July 19, 2013: “Forum About VW Unionization Goes Off Peacefully, Debate Continues”
WPC’s Matt Patterson cited in Nooga.com on July 18, 2013: “Union Debate is a Community Issue, Some Say”
Public forum “Chattanooga, UAW & Free Markets” advertised on Chattanoogan.com on July 18, 2013
WPC’s Matt Patterson quoted in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press on July 17, 2013: “VW Official Proposes Talks About Possible Works Council at Chattanooga Plant”
WPC’s Matt Patterson quoted in Nooga.com on July 15, 2013: “Anti-pro-unionization efforts ramp up at Volkswagen.”
WPC’s Matt Patterson quoted in Chattanooga Times-Free Press on June 29, 2013: U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, UAW Spar Over Volkswagen In Chattanooga
Here’s a report on WPC’s “Stop the UAW” campaign in the Chattanooga Times-Free Press from June 25, 2013: Anti-, pro-union voices fight over VW plant
Radio interviews featuring the WPC crew:
WPC’s Matt Patterson was interviewed by Rachel and Andrew on America’s Radio News Network’s KXL FM 101.1 on July 23, 2013
WPC’s Matt Patterson was interviewed on “The Lars Larson Show”, Oregon on July 21, 22, 2013
WPC’s Matt Patterson was interviewed on “The Phil Valentine Show”, 99.7 WTN Nashville, July 21, 2013
WPC’s Matt Patterson was interviewed by Jeff Styles on “FRED The Show” for Chattanooga’s 102.3 WGOW-FM on July 19, 2013
WPC’s Matt Patterson was interviewed by Jim Reynolds on “The Village Idiots” for Chattanooga’s 102.3 WGOW-FM on July 19, 2013
WPC’s Matt Patterson was interviewed by Tim Constantine on “The Capitol Hill Show” for Washington D.C.’s WTNT 730 AM and 102.9 FM on July 18, 2013
Other pieces about the “Save Chattanooga” campaign:
Chattanooga Tea Party President Mark West for the Chattanooga Times-Free Press on July 16, 2013: “Public Event Chattanooga, UAW & Free Markets.”
Students for Liberty at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga for the Times-Free Press, July 14, 2013. “UAW: Bad for Liberty – Bad for Tennessee.”
Event: “Chattanooga, UAW & Free Markets” on July 18th at 6:30 pm. Click here to learn more.
And here are some choice selections from WorkplaceChoice:
And more on UAW chief Bob King from CEI’s OpenMarket.org:
Remember, the UAW kills jobs, companies and towns. Check back here for updates, news and analysis on this issue of vital importance to all Chattanoogans. Unionization is a choice…
…but so is prosperity.