In a vote of 626 for and 712 against, the workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tenn. rejected the United Auto Workers union, or UAW, despite the fact that Volkswagen did not actively try to prevent workers from joining the union. Most of the arguments against unionization came from the state government, where Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam warned workers that accepting the union would hinder the state’s efforts to bring in more automakers. The workers apparently decided that unionization is to blame for many of the problems faced by Detroit autoworkers, most of whom eventually lost their high paying jobs entirely. Despite not having a worker’s union, workers in factories across the south and in other right-to-work states enjoy competitive wages.
In addition, there is rumor that Volkswagen is going to expand the current Chattanooga plant and begin manufacturing other vehicles there if workers rejected the union.
The next front for the UAW is the nearby Nissan plant in Clanton, Miss. The union has already used some unusual tactics for bringing a union into that plant, including hiring actor Danny Glover as a spokesperson, as well as putting pressure on the automaker during heavily publicized soccer games. The management of the Clanton plant maintain that not a single worker was laid off in their 30 years in business.
The last time Nissan workers in Clanton were given the opportunity to vote on a worker’s union, they voted it down by a margin of 70 percent. Nissan officials also say that other attempts to unionize their American operating facilities has ended in an overwhelming rejection of the UAW. Similar battles have occurred at the other Nissan plant, located in Smyrna, Tenn.
It is unclear what the UAW’s tactics will involve if the Clanton, Tenn. workers turn down their push to unionize again.