Saturday, February 15, 2014

My comments on the union vote at the Volkswagen Plant in Tennessee:

The workers in the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee voted on whether to establish a UAW-affiliated work council. The vote came in at 626 for and 712 against the union. This was an important vote for the UAW, because the majority of vehicles assembled in North America now come from "transplant" (non-union) factories. This was a rare occasion for the UAW to have a union vote at a plant where they were not fighting the manufacturer. In losing the vote, the UAW has to seriously re-evaluate its product.

Obviously, I'm pro-union, but looking at this as objectively as possible, the UAW really screwed up here. One of the key points that they tell you when you are learning to sell is that you have to "meet the customers' objections." In this case, the UAW didn't do that. The workers in Chattanooga told the UAW that they didn't like what had happened to the auto industry in Detroit. They thought it related to work rules put into place by the UAW. The UAW could have easily met that objective by putting work rules squarely in the hands of the local work council. The workers told the UAW that they didn't like dues going to liberal politicians. The Union could have left political donations to the discretion of the local work council. By botching its single best chance at organizing a southern auto plant, the UAW, not only demonstrated a tin ear to the workers' objections, it forfeited its single best chance to prove the naysayers wrong. I don't know what the UAW is going to do from here, but I think maybe they need to lower their dues and reorganize internally. It probably means there will be a headcount reduction within the UAW. What do you think?

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