Feb 20, 2014 10:04 PM GMT
As many of you already know, this was a very interesting organizing drive, because the company was for it. Volkswagen AG wanted to set up a German-style works council, which apparently can’t be done under U.S. labor law unless there’s a union, lest it be deemed an illegal “company union.” So the UAW came in and Volkswagen politely declined to contest.
The union lost anyway. There have been some fitful attempts to blame this on Republican legislators who launched a public-relations war against the union drive (a big union in the state would presumably divert some of those union dues to campaigning for Democrats). This is weak tea -- weaker even than complaints that companies “sabotage” union drives because they are allowed to argue to employees, within tight legal constraints, that the union might not be so great.
If the UAW can’t win in the South when the company basically invites them in, then it can’t win in the South, where all the new auto plants are. Is the problem native anti-union sentiment among Southerners? Did the events of 2008 convince workers that a union would be nothing but trouble? This is a fascinating, and unresolvable, academic debate. It doesn’t change the outcome, which is that the UAW lost when it had things stacked in its favor.