There was a time in this world when unions (then known as guilds) were a necessity in order to protect women and children from workplace abuse. Guilds really got their start during the Industrial Revolution both here and in Britain when millinery bosses would coerce workers (actually entire families) to work almost around-the-clock, sleeping on earthen factory floors after 18 hour days...and for pennies.
By contrast, modern unions, AFL-CIO, UAW, et al, have suffered massive migration away from union representation whether by choice or due to company migration to another state or country where unions have no choke hold on industry; where even government intervention prevents the intrusion of the slippery-slope of unionism.
I remember back in the early 70's riding Amtrak from Washington, D.C. to Atlanta sitting next to a rather affable individual returning from a four-week vacation from a "Big 3" auto plant in Georgia. He was riding high on something or one would never have expected him to reveal that he made over $60,000 a year (1970's money, mind you). When I asked him how he did it he said that the factory had been running night-and-day mandating at least four hours of overtime per day. It came as quite a surprise for me to learn that for such a skilled labor pay scale, he simply swept floors (and not even that much because the union mandated that he have a trainee with him most of the time). An apprentice with two-years of mandatory servitude to gain tenure. Please stop laughing...this is true and not a "dig" at the janitorial profession.
I doubt that plant is open anymore, probably moved to Mexico. This janitorial technician laughed his way right out of job supporting his union's forced arbitration. Sounds a lot like what happened to Hostess.
I worked for the AFL-CIO for a few years in St. Louis (47 years ago). I couldn't get a job otherwise in union-locked St. Louis. In hindsight, I should have starved rather than offering any support to such an evil empire. It's funny how current union laborers criticize me, calling me a turncoat, a traitor, a scab. But it's water rolling off a duck's back because those who accuse me of such heinous crimes are currently unemployed because of misplaced trust in representation promising to get their jobs back.
Now the unions, having made wastelands of the steel belt up north are hoping to find fertile (read: ignorant) soil down south. They don't have any choice. With union membership (and dues) withering at an exponential pace, the UAW, for example, having a third of their rolls from 20 years ago, must still pay massive pensions to retired workers...more money dolled out than comes in. The UAW is in panic mode and will promise (VW) workers the world but will never be able to keep their word. They hope to get a small number of unknowing workers to shill for them, getting a foothold in our VW plant for at least a dozen years before VW finally gets tired of the UAW and (again) moves everything down to Mexico. The UAW, if allowed, will put Chattanooga back into a 70's-like depression when our foundries were bled dry.
If you work for VW and you encounter one of the planted UAW shills, I urge you to ostracize these individuals. Even they are ignorant of the fact that they are pawns for a desperate and declining union who, in the end, will alienate Chattanooga's nurtured re-entry into industrial America and force VW to seek a less hostile environment elsewhere. This is not VW's first rodeo with the UAW. In the late 70's, VW balked and walked...all the way down to Puebla, Mexico. Folks, the UAW won't pay gas money for that kind of commute.
Yes, there was a time when labor unions were the salvation of many abused industries. But that time has long since come-and-gone. Empty promises and eventual lost employment is traditionally and historically the only representation the UAW offers you at VW.
They need you to survive. You don't need them.
David D. Fihn
* * *
If there was a way possible for the public to work at VW, David just might think differently. I agree that the unions of the past are about money and not much more. I have been a teamster for two decades and believe there has been a lot of hostility between the employees and management. This was almost a necessity at the time.
Now, here in Chattanooga, VW has offered their employees the representation and relationship with management that all other VW employees around the world receive. Due to U.S. labor laws, there needs to be a recognised union to represent the employee. The Works Council is made of of employees to create this relationship. If any person decides not to join, they simply do not join. No pressure.
Folks who do not understand the plant or how VW operates need to educate themselves on both sides before reaching an educated decision. Outsiders who do not work there need to stay out of VW's business and simply mind their own.
Volkswagen Team Member