I have read with interest the reporting and editorials in regarding the labor organizing efforts of the UAW and the response by the employees and management of Volkswagen. As a former City Councilman I remember well the efforts of the State of Tennessee, Hamilton County and the city of Chattanooga made in bringing VW of America to our great community. Our entire community has made great strides in overcoming the reputation Chattanooga had in the past as a unionized area that companies avoided as they look toward the south for good labor markets.
I understand why employees may desire to be represented by a union if there is an abusive management environment. However, I would encourage the employees of VW to ask “do they really want to give up their freedom to represent themselves” and let a third party, such as the UAW, assume this responsibility.
Another reason unionization is not necessary at VW is because of the many positive labor laws that Congress has enacted over the past several years designed to protect employee’s rights. These laws include the American Disability Act, the Family Medical Leave Act, and various anti-discrimination laws that protect employee’s rights. There are many labor attorneys who would be pleased to help employees protect their jobs in a difficult situation.
I am convinced it is difficult for employees to refuse to sign a union card when asked by a friend or group of fellow employees. The only fair way to correct the present situation at VW is for a “private” vote to be held where voters who understand their freedom of choice are not pressured into a bad decision.
An economic incentive package with included our taxes dollars helped bring VW to Tennessee. VW’s presence in the Chattanooga area is bringing new businesses opportunities, employment, and a chance for a better life for the families of East Tennessee. I remember well a quote by our great Senator from Chattanooga and former mayor of Chattanooga Bob Corker “let’s make Chattanooga the best city in the South”. There could be a serious negative effect on employment opportunities in this region if VW is organized by the UAW.