Friday, February 14, 2014
The votes are in, and VW-Chattanooga employees have voted 712-626 against representation by the UAW (participation was 89%). As has been frequently noted in the news, this could have been a ground-breaking vote in many ways. One of the most obvious is that it would have represented a breakthrough as the UAW finally gains a foothold in the foreign-owned Southern automaking industry. Moreover, the labor-management relationship was to model itself on a German-style works council.
Although important, I found the "foothold" point to be the less important one. In many ways, this situation is unique to a German company with long ties to one of the more powerful unions in the world (IG Metal). Even if the vote had gone the other way, there was no reason to assume that unionization would've spread to other plants in the South.
More interesting was that the proposed relationship between VW and the UAW looked extremely promising. Many commentators (including yours truly) have argued in favor of more cooperative labor-management relationships and it would've been really interesting to see how it developed. But it was not to be.