Union Busters Swarming in Tennessee

Unlike most companies that confront unionization efforts, Volkswagen [in Chattanooga, Tennessee]  — facing a drive by the United Automobile Workers — has not mounted a vigorous campaign to beat back the union; instead VW officials have hinted they might even prefer having a union.

But then there are the outside anti union forces

A business-backed group put up a billboard declaring, “Auto Unions Ate Detroit. Next Meal: Chattanooga,” while a prominent anti-union group, the National Right to Work Committee, has brought legal challenges against the U.A.W.’s effort, asserting that VW officials improperly pressured workers to back a union.

In addition, Grover Norquist, the anti-tax crusader, has set up a group, the Center for Worker Freedom, that has fought the U.A.W. on several fronts, partly to prevent the election of labor’s Democratic allies who might increase government spending.

… Chattanooga’s business community grew alarmed last September when the U.A.W. asked VW for union recognition, saying a majority of the plant’s 1,600 assembly workers had signed cards seeking union representation.

The business community reacted with further dismay when several Volkswagen officials from Germany visited the plant and hinted that it would be good to have a labor union because that would help establish a German-style works council. Such councils, comprising managers and representatives of white-collar and blue-collar workers, seek to foster collaboration within a factory as they forge policies on plant rules, work hours, vacations and other matters.

Michael Cantrell, 56, an assembly line worker, said it would be great to have a works council because it would give the workers more of a voice and help VW by fostering a smoother-running plant.

“It gives them a great competitive advantage if they do this,” said Mr. Cantrell, who has an M.B.A. and ran a tax preparation company before joining Volkswagen. “They have this standardized across the world. We feel we’re not as competitive if we don’t have this collaboration. This would be a paradigm shift.”

NY Times: Greenhouse

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